Not many games have had documentaries made about them. Donkey Kong is different.
It’s part of the classic arcade breed that teased the first hardcore gamers with promises of infinite perfectibility. “Keep pumping quarters in and you’ll get better,” it whispered.
Donkey Kong‘s clever coding made it difficult to parse luck from skill, and the simple clarity of the game design made battling the giant ape even more maddening. All you needed to do was run, jump and pause at the right times, over and over again, and you’d eventually send Donkey Kong tumbling down the construction girders.
And the cycle starts again, with you thinking, “I just did this. I can do it again. No sweat.” But dodging, smashing and jumping the ever quickening springs, barrels and fireballs did make you sweat. You were sharpening your reflexes, sure, but to what end? To play more Donkey Kong, of course. What else was there?