I loved King of Kong. But is it real? More specifically, what evidence proves the scoring battles of King of Kong really happened?
If you haven't seen it, the movie's main characters are the perfect David/Goliath contrast... one a super-nice teacher guy down on his luck, the other an arrogant, smug, successful-small-business jerkwad with a mullet. And the good guy wins in the end!
But looking back, the King of Kong story and especially those characters seemed a little too perfect. So I looked into things on the 'net.
A few minutes of Googling led to articles and even some photos (like the one below) appearing to confirm that the Billy Mitchell character is real and has been in gaming for awhile.
But photos are easy to fake. That one of Bily Mitchell could have been easily forged in Photoshop using an old photo of the actor who played Mitchell. And look closely at his sweatshirt... the C in Centipede seems oddly cut-off, no?
And when I dug further on the 'net, I noticed much of the material confirming the scoring battles appears to come from just a few sources, most notably TwinGalaxies.com, the website mentioned extensively in the movie. For instance, many of the gaming-history-related Wikipedia references for the movie come from "articles" on TwinGalaxies.com. This site and its contents easily could have been created by the movie's makers.
Then there's other evidence suggesting King of Kong is a mockumentary:
- The tagline for the movie -- "Don't get chumpatized" -- seems less appropo for the movie as a documentary but very appropo for the movie as a mockumentary
- The movie references a character called "Mister Awesome" who seems like he would have a significant Internet presence, but basically all that exists is a half-assed website and a Youtube video with footage from the movie repackaged as a fake news-show segment
- Director Seth Gordon is no stranger to comedy, having directed an episode each of Modern Family and Community, two episodes of The Office, and multiple episodes of Parks and Recreation.
- (update 1) YouTube has short clip of 1983 "That's Incredible" episode which purports to show Walter Day hosting video game tourney, but clip's edits seem strange, and more importantly: no Billy Mitchell
(update 2) Evidence suggesting King of Kong is real:
- according to this site that describes old Life magazines, the January 1983 issue did include story on video-game high-scorers, including Billy Mitchell.