The Glowing Stars play tonight at California Extreme.
Just last week, I was at a bar ordering a drink, and when the bartender turned around to set it down on the counter, I saw that he had a tattoo covering his entire inside forearm recreating a screen from the old Donkey Kong arcade game. For some reason, the first thing out of my mouth was the dumbest question I could have asked: “Have you seen The King of Kong?
He looked at me like I was nuts, and said “Do you think I’d have this tattoo on my arm and not have seen The King of Kong?”
Luckily, this inauspicious opening did not keep us from an in-depth discussion of the finer points of the cult-favorite 2007 documentary, which has left many a viewer—even ones who never play video games—saying to themselves, “I can’t believe this movie is making me care about Donkey Kong.” You may be thinking right now, “Oh, that would never happen to me,” but once you start following the movie’s dramatic real-life fight over the world high score for Donkey Kong, you’ll be hooked.
The movie is also somewhat controversial, generating endless debate online about how it goes to great lengths to make its main subject Steve Wiebe seem like the earnest Everyman hero, and uses creative editing to make longtime arcade-culture celebrity Billy Mitchell look like a mustache-twirling villain.
One person who can definitively speak to some of the movie’s issues will be at the Calfornia Extreme Video Game Expo at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara tonight at 6pm, when Walter Day, seen in the film as the referee who tries to reign in all this high-score chaos, will be interviewed and take questions.
CAX, as it’s been known to South Bay fans for 16 years now, is a celebration of retro arcade-game and pinball culture, one of the most respected in the country. It runs Saturday and Sunday this weekend, beginning at 11am both days. The admission charge gets video-game lovers in to play dozens of arcade games and pinball games for free, as well as participate in tournaments and sit in on panel discussions. Attendees can play, for instance, not only the original Donkey Kong arcade game, but Donkey Kong II: Jumpman Returns, Donkey Kong Jr., and Donkey Kong 3. The long list of other games runs from Arkanoid to Zookeeper.
A more recent addition is live music on Saturday nights, which this year is presented by Rockage, the festival which had its debut this year as sort of the underground, more console-friendly version of CAX, and will return with Rockage 2.0 next February.
This year’s music is headlined by two top acts from the Bay Area’s video-game-inspired chiptune scene: Crashfaster and the Glowing Stars. Other performers run the gamut from chip to indescribable: Doctor Popular, Hello The Future, Cartoon Violence, Slime Girls, Gnarboots and DJ Coco.
Music starts at 7pm. For ticket info, go here.