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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Arcade Video Game Champion Movie – Chasing Ghosts Beyond The Arcade

I was a video arcade game fanatic when I was a little kid. Growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s I begged my parents for their spare change so that I could slug their hard earned quarters into games like Pac Man, Tempest, Defender, Dig Dug, Joust, Asteroids, etc

In the early 80’s a group of teenagers with the help of the earnest, somewhat aloof, charismatic video game referee, Walter Day, were declared video game champions of each of their respective games. For a brief period of time they gained a degree of fame which saw an appearance on the 80’s show “That’s Incredible” and led them to an ill-fated national video gaming tour. They were featured in a Life Magazine photo.

“Chasing Ghosts: Beyond The Arcade” is about their Life Magazine photo reunion in 2005. During the film they discuss their rise to success, what their current life is like and their still-simmering desire to be considered the best.

If you saw the film “King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters” you’ll find that these two films are essentially the same movie with many of the same people. There is a big exception though. King of Kong focused on an intense good-guy, bad-guy rivalry between two Donkey Kong competitors (Bill Mitchell and Steve Wiebe). Chasing Ghosts fills in the details that King of Kong did not have the time to do. Chasing Ghosts takes a long look at the culture of gaming and how it has affected the lives of those who once played on an elite level.

To some, Chasing Ghosts will be one of those films where audience members will pejoratively ask, “Why don’t these guys get a life?” I’m not thrilled with that question. These people have a life and have made a name for themselves, albeit an esoteric recognition, pursuing their passion. Everyone in life should be so lucky to be considered one of the best at something.

Choose any subject and there are masters. Chasing Ghosts could have been about any activity where people have pursued excellence. One point that this movie really punctuates is that to be the best you need to have passion go to extremes to do it. All the champions in this film either have or once exhibited a type- A personality that is obsessed with their craft. Players talk of physical exhaustion while playing 20, 30, 40 hours straight. One player talks of sketching 64,000 different video game screen possibilities. Countless hours are spent studying gaming strategy.

If you haven’t grown up around the 70’s and 80’s arcade scene you might find it difficult to relate to this film, it’s worth a try though. I enjoyed it.

More Reviews By TurtleDog

If you want to check out my review of the movie King of Kong, Click Here.  Find out the intensity and rivalry behind becoming Donkey Kong champion.

Cowboys and Aliens? No, This isn't a video game, this is a Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford Film. Click Here to See if You'd Like It.

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