Dinner with Steve Wiebe (of The King of Kong fame)

Dinner with Steve Wiebe (of The King of Kong fame)

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This past Thursday evening, Ray Winninger, Jennifer Ritzinger, Arthur Yasinski, and I met Steve Wiebe for dinner at Pomegranate in Redmond, Washington. If you're not familiar with Steve, he's featured in the recent documentary, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. My wife and I saw the movie a few weeks back at Big Picture in Redmond and loved it. Even if you're not a fan of classic video games, this is a great movie (don't take my word for it).

Immediately after the movie, I told my wife that I'd love to find Steve and take him to dinner (he lives in the area). He seemed like a great guy in The King of Kong, and although I don't hold any current records, I have held a few in the distant past, and I figured he'd be fun to spend some time with.

I happened to mention the movie to Arthur at lunch one day, and it turns out that he lives just down the street from Steve...and has seen him playing Donkey Kong in his garage many times! :-) With Arthur's help, I was in touch with Steve's wife, Nicole, a few e-mails later, and it wasn't long after that that we had set a dinner date.

Fast forward to dinner. Let me start by saying that Steve Wiebe is exactly as he is portrayed in the movie. He's polite, considerate, very likable, smart, and respectful of everyone he talks about. Steve was a mechanical engineer at Boeing where he worked on landing gear, and he's currently teaching seventh grade math in the area. We spent almost three hours talking and enjoying a great dinner. Among many "behind the scenes" stories, here are a few other tidbits from the evening:

  • Steve has liked Donkey Kong since his younger years, and they had a machine at his fraternity in college. The first time he reached the kill screen, he thought the machine was defective. Only later did he learn that this is the last screen in the game.
  • Steve doesn't play Donkey Kong while school is in session. I'm very impressed at his self-control!
  • Steve was aware of the Galaga bug that causes the enemies to stop firing for the rest of the game, but he didn't know the details. As a huge Galaga fan myself (remember my post, Make Your Own Mini-Galaga?), I was thrilled to add a little video game knowledge to the conversation.

As a side note, before dinner, Ray, Jennifer, Arthur, and I decided to try our hands at Donkey Kong to see who could get the highest score (we have a machine in the office). If anything, it would give us an appreciation of Steve's amazing achievement of 1,049,100. After a couple of rounds, I happened to get the high score of 26,600...and that was on a machine that gives you six lives! Pretty sad.

Thank you to Steve for saying "yes" to dinner. It was a fun evening!

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  • King of Kong was very enjoyable.  I met Steve Wiebe at E for All last week.  He was playing Donkey Kong, trying to beat Billy's top score that he gained back for charity.  You can check out the video here

    http://www.nerdsociety.com/2008/10/10/nerdsocietys-video-e-for-all-2008-coverage/

    Anyway, when I first watched the film, I was on the same boat as you guys about Billy.  But after doing some research, I found out that Billy isn't as bad as the film made him out to be.  In reality, Billy wasn't hurt by the fact that Steve topped his score, because at the time of the film, Billy wasn't even the highest scorer for Donkey Kong.  The score that Steve Wiebe beat was by another player.  Also, Billy acknowledged Steve at the Classic Gaming Expo in 2004.

    Here you can hear Billy and Steve being interviewed together.

    http://www.twingalaxies.com/files/billyandsteveinterview.mp3

    I can go on, but my point is, the filmmakers, to make a more interesting film, made Billy the enemy.  If you still think otherwise, please discuss.

    source:

    http://www.avclub.com/content/feature/the_king_of_kong_continued

  • This seems to be the closest I'll get to sending Steve (and the doc-crew) an email (or at least a proper place to leave a note).

    Just zapped in the documentairy this evening and was catched by the integrety of Steve and the way he was portretted. Very catchy, liked every minute of the filmed story.

    Steve, hope you do well. Congrats on your successes (and even more on your determinate-ness or whatever you call it). DocMakers, hope you keep up the good work. Really good television.

    Best regards,

    Arthur.

  • Wow, congratulations Steve. Now there is a very admirable guy and a true stand up competitor. I am not surprised that Billy whatever his name is didn't have the courage to face Steve, because not only would he have embarrassed himself but would then have been exposed for the forgery he committed with the tape he sent in. The guy is so smug, talks the talk but doesn't have the spine to give Steve the respect he deserves. He really should watch Mr.Awesome's videos and stop embarrassing the United States by using the initials USA.

  • Man, I have watched KoK a dozen or so times now.  I am always impressed by the drive shown. I also can't help but wonder if the movie ment to smear Mr. M as it came across.

    To Steve,

    It also shocks me that you do not own or manage a business.  With drive like you have you would be the idea person and I would not think twice of offering you a business oportunity.(tom.mattinson@hotmail.com)

    Mike, Sounds like you had a great time and I am sure I don't need to tell you that there is a good list of people that would love to be in your shoes that night.

  • regardless of the outcome, it sounds like Wiebe won the crowd over and was the true "king of kong" in most everyone's opinion

  • Steve just reclaimed the high score: www.twingalaxies.com/index.aspx

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