Indifferent Games

As with anyone who watched King of Kong and is thus somehow invested in Donkey Kong world record playthroughs, I noticed that Wes Copeland had recently beaten the record in deeply impressive fashion (no lives lost!). I watched bits and pieces of the full (over three hours!) playthrough, but the thing that struck me the most was the end of it. Copeland reaches the final moment of the game where it glitches and Mario dies for no reason (the cabinet shakes, I like to think it’s with the excitement of some unseen crowd?), he enters his name (“WES”) into the high scores, and then…

… the game resets immediately and starts playing its attract mode. The game is all like, “Next.” Perhaps nobody will ever play a better run of Donkey Kong, but Donkey Kong cares about this almost exactly as much as if Copeland had been hit by the very first barrel. And for me, that all-too-quick transition from the victory of a high score to business as usual is such a lovely deflation of all the heroics and power-narratives videogames contain.

(To be honest I’d go further and draw the inevitable parallel with the indifferent universe itself, but maybe another time.)

Anyway, congratulations to Wes Copeland for doing an amazing thing. I care, even if Donkey Kong doesn’t.


20 May 2016
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