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October 21, 2010 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday at around 3PM PST, John McAllister began his quest to beat a 25 year-old "Joust" record of 107 million points. His game is being broadcast live. It is oddly compelling to watch a skilled player in action - at 22 hours of play he has 47 million points.
posted by pashdown (173 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, the audio on that game is some of the most memorable of all time for some reason.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:59 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Heh. All I could think as he was hovering over the respawn pads was "damn campers".
And who else is super-annoyed by the popup ads on the video?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 1:00 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


He certainly is good at Joust.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:03 PM on October 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


So you're saying he has to play for 50 straight hours?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:03 PM on October 21, 2010


Who want's to bet that when he's done he attributes the high score to ASS?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:04 PM on October 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


I was kinda surprised. I saw him die several times in a few minutes of watching. Has he collected like a jillion extra lives or something? How quickly do you get those?
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 1:07 PM on October 21, 2010


So you're saying he has to play for 50 straight hours?

Recently one of his helpers said he has 165 men "stacked-up". I'd imagine they come in handy for bathroom breaks, but yes, there is no pause button on arcade machines.
posted by pashdown at 1:08 PM on October 21, 2010


That guy right there is maybe not so bad at playing that game right there.
posted by dersins at 1:08 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is one of four routes to getting a record on Joust, the other being Points [Marathon/Doubles], Points [Tournament Settings/Doubles], and Points [Tournament Settings/Single Player]. McAllister and Perry Rogers hold third place in Joust: Points [Tournament Settings/Doubles].
posted by filthy light thief at 1:10 PM on October 21, 2010


That's a hell of a lot of flapping. The console version was much easier (too easy) to keep your bird in the air.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:11 PM on October 21, 2010


click..clickclickclick...thump...thumpthumpthump...THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP.....click..clickclick..THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP...dammit!!

ah, the memories.
posted by prinado at 1:12 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Goddamnit I never knew you could defeat the Pterodactyl by just standing there.
posted by PsychoTherapist at 1:13 PM on October 21, 2010 [14 favorites]


If I'm reading some of the articles correctly, James Vollandt, the previous winner also held a long running record of longest video game session on 1 quarter (67.5 hours). If this is his high score marathon run, then it may take a bit longer than 50 hours for John McAllister.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:14 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Goddamnit I never knew you could defeat the Pterodactyl by just standing there.

YEah it took me many quarters to figure that one out.
posted by Mister_A at 1:14 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also where does one find a working Joust cabinet?
posted by Mister_A at 1:15 PM on October 21, 2010


*le sigh* And here I used to think that I was the shit when I'd play Gauntlet for a few hours at a stretch. Well, at least he's not Billy Mitchell.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:16 PM on October 21, 2010


Also, you know how sometimes you read or watch something and it makes you feel like you've squandered your precious time on trifles? This does the opposite. So thank you, Joust dude!
posted by Mister_A at 1:18 PM on October 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


And somewhere in the shadows, a mysterious salsa magnate watches ...and plots his next move.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:20 PM on October 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


> Man, the audio on that game is some of the most memorable of all time for some reason.

There's a pretty nifty iOS app that has every sound effect as a playable little pad instrument. You can really crank out some great techno with it.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:21 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, at least he's not Billy Mitchell.

My wife just watched King of Kong last night for the first time while I was out at a meetup. I haven't seen it since it first came out on DVD, and it was amazing how quickly all of the anger at Billy Mitchell came flooding back.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:25 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The most amazing thing to me is that I watched/listened for 5 minutes or so, an didn't hear him curse once.
posted by inigo2 at 1:29 PM on October 21, 2010


Is this the episode where he's really videotaping some autistic kid beating the record, then he claims the video is of him beating the record, and the autistic kid's Dad gets really pissed at him for stealing his kid's big accomplishment and kills the guy with his 3-iron?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:31 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I hope he doesn't have it set to free play. That would sort of be cheating. If you're going to play for 60 hours at least pay a quarter (to yourself) to do it!
posted by aubilenon at 1:33 PM on October 21, 2010


NEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRDSSSSS.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:33 PM on October 21, 2010


Watching him, I feel like a 13 year old kid rooting my friend on while he's playing; secretly wishing he'd hurry up and die so I can get my turn. And, yeah, there would be a lot more cursing and offending of the customers in the convenience store where we were playing.
posted by Increase at 1:33 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Halloween Jack: " And here I used to think that I was the shit when I'd play Gauntlet for a few hours at a stretch"

One of the biggest disappointments in my formative nerd years was finding out that Gauntlet Does Not End.
posted by boo_radley at 1:34 PM on October 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


Vivid, Extreme, thanks for the excellent Post and where else can one watch for hours a game being played that brought back BAD memories as i did not last for 1 minute. but my youngest son, was and is really skilled at that game.
posted by tustinrick at 1:35 PM on October 21, 2010


i just saw him die many times in a row, and I heard some cursing.....that does not look like fun.
posted by Hoosier Prospector at 1:36 PM on October 21, 2010


He does not fight them, he just wait for them!!!
posted by dov3 at 1:40 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Loved that game. Was never much good at it, though. Galaga was more my speed -- it turned out that Galaga had a pretty inflexible pattern, and once you memorized the pattern of each level, it was just a matter of not making a physical mistake. Also, it had what I called "beer drinking stages," where, if you had two ships, you could keep your ship dead-center and blast away with one hand, while hoisting a cold one with the other for about 2 minutes. It was pretty much infinite -- after level 32 (or something) it started all over at the beginning. The only limiting factor was how long I was willing to occupy a console. The bladder was most often the determining factor.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:43 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


The problem with Galaga is when you figure out the glitch to make the enemy ships not fire it gets pretty boring. Galaga and Ikari Warriors are the only arcade games I got halfway decent at.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:45 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding Billy Mitchell and King of Kong, our own jscott has an opinion.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:50 PM on October 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


I had the home version of this for one of the early Atari "computer" systems (XL? Something with an X that had hardwired BASIC), and I found out that past level 99, it just registered as level 00 and didn't get any harder. I had my brother keep track until I got to level 118, at which point I just didn't care anymore.

I do regret that somewhere along the line, we lost the list of all of our personal high scores from that Atari. Knowing our friends, it's likely Ryan burned it while we were off playing games.
posted by klangklangston at 1:54 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding Billy Mitchell and King of Kong, our own jscott has an opinion.

Hilarious-only-to-me coincidence time: I have JUST THIS SECOND received an email from a person from William Mitchell School of Law, which I had never heard of before.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:54 PM on October 21, 2010


Regarding Billy Mitchell and King of Kong, our own jscott has an opinion.

Oh, I know about that, but I think jscott misunderstands the purpose of documentary filmmaking (or, rather, that there can be more than one purpose). King of Kong tells a fascinating story and makes you care a lot about something that, objectively, you would normally think was something pretty stupid to care a lot about, and in doing so it pulls competitive game players and other uber-geeks out of the cultural ghetto and makes them relatable. I think it's a great film.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:58 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


And I think we can all agree that Billy Mitchell is just an unpleasant sort of person. There's no context you could add to the interview segments in the first part of the movie that would change things.
posted by kafziel at 2:01 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


If only I would have invested the quarters I spent on video games into something worthwhile.

On a complete side note, I initially thought the title said "fap, fap, fap, fap, fap." I love Joust but not that much. Only after I reread the title did it all make sense. I guess I need sleep.
posted by Silvertree at 2:01 PM on October 21, 2010


And makes a lot of people who aren't Steve Wiebe look like total assholes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:01 PM on October 21, 2010


This dude is even better than me when I was 8.
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:01 PM on October 21, 2010


How does he use the bathroom?
posted by outsider at 2:04 PM on October 21, 2010


Level 97 is a survival wave! Man, I rarely ever got beyond level 2!
posted by not_on_display at 2:05 PM on October 21, 2010


One of the biggest disappointments in my formative nerd years was finding out that Gauntlet Does Not End.

That was one of the reasons that I played it; I went through a period of my life shortly after college when scraping together a single quarter often involved walking around for a while, looking for pennies on the sidewalks, and the longer I could make that quarter last, the better.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:05 PM on October 21, 2010


How does he use the bathroom?

A system of buckets and long-suffering friends.
posted by kafziel at 2:08 PM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's a hell of a lot of flapping. The console version was much easier (too easy) to keep your bird in the air.

As you get older, it requires more of that to keep your bird in the air. What? Oh, FLAPPING? Never mind.
posted by The Bellman at 2:12 PM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


One of the biggest disappointments in my formative nerd years was finding out that Gauntlet Does Not End.

I don't really believe this. There must be some kind of buffer overflow eventually.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:17 PM on October 21, 2010


We had our Atari 128 computer with the cartridges set up in a corner of our basement--Joust, DigDug, and Zaxxon were the only games that this Pinball Generation relic ever got tolerably good at--not in the league of this guy, but oh, man the memories flooded back.

Worst Atari game we had--other than a speak & spell like Grover spelling game--The Death Star game. Never seemed to be any damn point to that one and the graphics were abysmal.

Joust? fapfapfapfapfapfapfap.
posted by beelzbubba at 2:24 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I loved Joust. This is oddly fun to watch.
posted by donovan at 2:26 PM on October 21, 2010


Regarding Billy Mitchell and King of Kong, our own jscott has an opinion.


Im sure it's a lovely opinion, but sadly I am now blind from clicking on that link.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:27 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


My 14-yo stepson is all like, "What does the right trigger do?"

And I'm like, "Flap."

And then, "What does the left trigger do?"

"Also flap."

"What about the 'B' button?"

"Oh, you use that one to, er, flap."

And so on.
posted by Mister_A at 2:30 PM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


To play it yourself
posted by Blasdelb at 2:32 PM on October 21, 2010


There's a Joust in my local ice cream shop / old-school arcade (http://fulltilticecream.com). My 10-yo daughter saw me play it and almost fell over laughing. Then she beat my high score on Pole Position for like the 100th time.
posted by bizwank at 2:34 PM on October 21, 2010


I cannot imagine the stamina involved. One of my few claims to fame is that I pretty much figured out Q*Bert. It tops off rapidly in difficulty at level nine, and then repeats forever. However, my attention lasted only for about an hour or so, then I needed to get back to drinking. Two days plus in front of that screen -- I couldn't do that staring at a screensaver.
posted by rtimmel at 2:41 PM on October 21, 2010


Oh man. I tried to do this when I was a kid. And by tried, I mean kept it up for a few hours straight and ultimately gave up because my wrist hurt. It's harder on an Atari 2600 with a stiff rubber joystick, hooked to a tiny TV screen...
posted by limeonaire at 2:52 PM on October 21, 2010


Hey, there's about to be a Donkey Kong Kill Screen coming up in a minute.

If you're interested.

I concur that this fellow is very good at Joust. .. but he just died!

Regarding Billy Mitchell and King of Kong, our own jscott has an opinion

I think we all figured as much. But c'mon.

"it's sorta like being in a maze, but everything you see is actually sauce"
posted by mrgrimm at 2:58 PM on October 21, 2010


The sound of him smacking that fly button is getting damn annoying.
posted by zzazazz at 3:02 PM on October 21, 2010


About 10 years ago, I won my company's Joust Deathmatch tournament. This guy makes me look like a punk.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:15 PM on October 21, 2010


This was my best friend's favorite game when I was a kid. I was never any good at it.

To be fair, I wasn't ever much good at video games in general until I was an adult, and now my "kick everyone else's ass at it" game is Mega Man 2. Strangely, when I was a kid I was much better at card games, but that's a family thing.

And I haven't seen King of Kong, but Billy Mitchell looks so much like Peter Dinklage that I can't help but like him.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:33 PM on October 21, 2010


It's odd hearing him still complain about silly, twitchy deaths at hour 25 or whatever. In a kind of counter-intuitive way, it seems like just sheer fatigue would have beaten the ability to be frustrated by little game mistakes out of him by now.

Maybe the capacity to still get pissed that you missed the war-ostrich by a pixel well into your second consecutive ENTIRE DAY playing Joust is the thing that makes it possible for you to set a record at playing Joust.
posted by penduluum at 3:35 PM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


My 14-yo stepson is all like, "What does the right trigger do?"

And I'm like, "Flap."

And then, "What does the left trigger do?"

"Also flap."

"What about the 'B' button?"

"Oh, you use that one to, er, flap."

And so on.
posted by Mister_A at 5:30 PM on October 21 [2 favorites +] [!]


You know, now that I think about it, Joust is a pretty brilliant and unique invention.

It was one of the better Atari 2600 carts, too.
posted by flotson at 3:36 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


the feed is currently a static Asteroids screen that isn't even animating. did he give up?
posted by radiosilents at 3:36 PM on October 21, 2010


Galaga was more my speed

I loved Galaga because the score counter only went up to a million, and I could flip it. I felt like hot shit, until I ran into a guy who had discovered that Player 2's counter had an extra digit -- so you could feed the machine two quarters, play Player 2, and get up to ten million. Which I couldn't do. Stupid Galaga.
posted by steambadger at 3:40 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's gonna really suck if he game overs at say, 106,594,380 points.
posted by kmz at 3:42 PM on October 21, 2010


Video not working for me :(((((((
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:46 PM on October 21, 2010


And I haven't seen King of Kong, but Billy Mitchell looks so much like Peter Dinklage that I can't help but like him.

If you watch the movie, your opinion of him will most likely change.
posted by phatkitten at 3:46 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


the feed is currently a static Asteroids screen that isn't even animating. did he give up?

Musta been a feed glitch or something, it's working now when i check.
posted by kafziel at 3:47 PM on October 21, 2010


Yeah, there was some cursing there, and I, too, am surprised he still has the energy to get agitated about it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:58 PM on October 21, 2010


If you watch the movie, your opinion of him will most likely change.

Possibly, but I've got a defense-attorney mindset and I know that the movie largely lies about him, so maybe not.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:05 PM on October 21, 2010


Possibly, but I've got a defense-attorney mindset and I know that the movie largely lies about him, so maybe not.

They may have edited the footage but they certainly couldn't have edited what he said. He doesn't paint a flattering picture of himself, that's all.

All that aside, it's a great documentary!
posted by phatkitten at 4:20 PM on October 21, 2010


been watching for a couple of hours and have seen up to 100 viewers. wonder how many are from these parts?
posted by HyperBlue at 4:21 PM on October 21, 2010


wonder how many are from these parts?

i've been "watching" for 3 hours. 190 men and counting. i too am surprised at how many men he loses, but i guess it doesn't matter.

EGG WAVE!
posted by mrgrimm at 4:26 PM on October 21, 2010


I forgot about those. Love the egg waves.

Got to be better spectator games, though, than Joust. Gauntlet would be pretty cool, actually.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:29 PM on October 21, 2010


Bank Panic was my OCD game of choice. Left, Right and 3 fire buttons.
posted by benzenedream at 4:49 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think jscott misunderstands the purpose of documentary filmmaking (or, rather, that there can be more than one purpose)

Most folks get that there can be multiple purposes in documentary filmmaking, but surely *making shit up* isn't one of them. A film that's so crassly manipulative and full of what can only be called surprisingly blatant lies isn't what I'd consider a candidate for "great"-ness.

Joust is hilarious but it's no Tempest.
posted by mediareport at 4:51 PM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


What the hell is going on right now? He's just sitting at the bottom dying.
posted by dersins at 4:56 PM on October 21, 2010


Yeah, I tuned in and he's just dying, dying, dying. Boring.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:00 PM on October 21, 2010


He just took a dinner break, and apparently blew off eighty lives. Life is cheap in West Seattle.

Do I lose all my geek cred if I admit to having spent a small fortune on Dragon's Lair?
posted by steambadger at 5:04 PM on October 21, 2010


On the sound effects: That's Williams for you. Most of their early 80s framebuffer games sound that great.

Joust is a great spectator game, I think, because it's so dynamic and difficult. It's not about memorizing a pattern, there are situations that come up you have to be alert for.

I wonder how he sleeps? Or if he just loads up on coffee?

Someone above talked about marathonin Gauntlet. To my understanding, the game gets harder depending on score, removing food depending on how many points have been earned. It's internal scorekeeping rolls over at some ungodly score. Since you can mint points by just finding a corner and holding down the shoot button to kill ghosts, if you have enough health stockpiled you can do that and, eventually, roll over the internal counter, getting back to the realm where health is common again.

It is interesting that, in a way, 80s arcade games are the most interesting for these kinds of records since they are basically fair even at high level play, that was a priority for the designer above raw moneymaking potential. I read somewhere that Gauntlet Legends had a setup where you could play through the early zones repeatedly and build up health, so in a software revision Atari implemented a timer. After five minutes without putting in a coin, the gradual health loss increased to 3 health every 2 seconds, and after nine minutes it went up to 2 every second plus enemies did extra damage. It made the game more lucrative in the short term but less so in the long term, since advanced players will notice this and lose interest faster.

A relevant example of this, I think, is the little-known Joust II, which is a great deal less fair than Joust is.
posted by JHarris at 5:04 PM on October 21, 2010


I have a ton of friends in Seattle. Does anyone know what arcade he's playing at?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:15 PM on October 21, 2010


It's a home arcade called Sante's something-or-other.
posted by steambadger at 5:19 PM on October 21, 2010


Wait, he's in Seattle? Fuck, I'm in Seattle. I kinda want to go spectate.

…for about ten minutes.
posted by egypturnash at 5:20 PM on October 21, 2010


RE: sounds, Zomby does some pretty alright dubsteppy things with Joust sound effects.
posted by fleetmouse at 5:24 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


aw, man. One of the buttons is sticking. they're trying to repair it on the fly.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:27 PM on October 21, 2010


Oh man, a button was sticking so they're repairing the control panel during the game!
posted by JHarris at 5:28 PM on October 21, 2010


Looks like 71.4 million or so now.

A while ago I downloaded Joust and started trying to play, but the reasonably modern computer I was on made it so that I could not possibly flap fast enough to get off the ground. I was surprisingly disappointed.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 5:33 PM on October 21, 2010


So, there seems to be about ten Shadow Lords on most waves. Killing a Shadow Lord is worth 1,500 points, so that's a minimum of 15,000 points. Eggs are worth up to 250+500+750+1,000x7, or 8,500 points. Air catches for eggs are up to another 5,000 points. All together, that's 28,500 points. Pterodactyls are 1,000 apiece.

Extra lives come at every 20,000 points. Those times where he hovers over an egg and waits for the buzzard to come in and pick up the hatching enemy, simultaneously air-catching the egg? Those moments are worth at least 2,250 points each, over one-tenth of an extra life, and up to 3,000, which is 3/20ths of a life. Those moments add up.

Joust, as we can readily see and as was common for Williams at the time, is a game of attrition. You're always losing lives, but you gain them back with some frequency. The idea is to be good enough to gain them faster than you lose them. If you get tired and aren't playing optimally, your skill will start to dip below the break-even point, and you start running a deficit.
posted by JHarris at 5:39 PM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Re: stuck button - I wonder if they use the same Sanwa parts competitive Streetfighter players swear by. Concave v. convex buttons? Square v octagonal joystick base, etc.
Anyway, it's neat how they were prepared for that contingency. On the Intl Arcade Museum thread, the arcade owner SanTe also reveals that the machine has a backup generator.
posted by marco_nj at 5:44 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


They Shoot Ostriches, Don't They?
posted by Flashman at 5:44 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


slightly OT: back in the late 80's, through a friend of a friend, i had thanksgiving dinner at the house of a guy named john newcomer. he was the principal designer of joust, and a super nice guy.

it was my first encounter with someone in the games industry, and it was fascinating. he had piles of video cassettes with complete sets of star trek and other sci-fi shows. he had a basement crammed full of board games, and he had played them all. i had encountered geeks before, but his collections were at a level i had never imagined. i commented about how amazed it all was, and his response was something along the lines of "hey, it's my job to know this stuff". it was the first time i realized that some people really did turn their passions into their profession.

years later, i now work as a games programmer, in small part because of john newcomer's inspiration.
posted by bruceo at 6:12 PM on October 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


Any of you Seattle folks that feel like playing some Joust ought to come down to Shorty's tonight, we've got a machine right by the door. I'll be bartending in the back bar, mention you're a mefite and I'll take a buck off the price of any cocktail I make you.
posted by Jawn at 6:15 PM on October 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


28 hours, just under 60 million points. And still surprisingly chipper.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:35 PM on October 21, 2010


One of the biggest disappointments in my formative nerd years was finding out that Gauntlet Does Not End.

Gyruss is the same way. Once you get to Earth it loops around again. I've gone around twice IIRC.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:37 PM on October 21, 2010


Someone mentioned on the broadcast that John played Asteroids for 57 hours. Yikes!
posted by sexymofo at 7:40 PM on October 21, 2010


Actually, while arcade Gauntlet doesn't end, NES Gauntlet does. It makes you jump through a lot of hoops to do it, too.
posted by JHarris at 7:49 PM on October 21, 2010


Rtimmel, I feel ya. I played q*bert for most of a day at blimpie's in raleigh, nc and quit with about 50 lives left. I feel like I should have taken a picture or something. I was over 1 billion and had to quit. Also I am so old that when the first 50 cent game (mortal kombat?) Came out I called bullshit and retired.because I was collecting 10 cent bottle turn-ins to get my game money.b
posted by freecellwizard at 8:01 PM on October 21, 2010


I've kept him on in the background while studying for the last n hours, and right now (30 hours in) it sounds like he's losing his mind realtime. His voice is getting whinier and shakier, and every time he dies he comes closer and closer to pulling out big swear words, which he's apparently trying not to do. The last death as of the time of this writing provoked a "gosh dammit MOTHERF... dang".
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:37 PM on October 21, 2010


I hear ya freecellwizard. When games became more than a quarter, I shook my head and rarely played. When they (in Canada) became a dollar per play, I resolved never to play again.

I do miss the smoky arcades of my misspent youth.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 8:43 PM on October 21, 2010


His associate just gave him the update, at the current scoring rate, about 20 hours. But, as his rate will likely drop off, probably 23 hours.
posted by meinvt at 8:59 PM on October 21, 2010


I have trouble reading it...what's the current score?
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 9:07 PM on October 21, 2010


Looks like 4948150 and counting...
posted by Burhanistan at 9:10 PM on October 21, 2010


(add some zeros)
posted by Burhanistan at 9:12 PM on October 21, 2010


Apparently 65M and over 30 hrs in (I'm guessing the score only displays values less than 10 million)
posted by mazola at 9:13 PM on October 21, 2010


The discussion in the chat panel is getting deep:

In Joust, are you the human or the ostrich?

Man argument: the game shows how many men you have left
Ostrich argument: men don't 'flap'

I might not sleep tonight.
posted by mazola at 9:24 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


You're the man, and you're steering the ostrich. Duh.
posted by kafziel at 9:25 PM on October 21, 2010


This is great. The energy is intense and the discussion is great. I'm going to have to force myself to shut this off at some point and pick it up tomorrow. Otherwise I too will be up all night.
posted by chemoboy at 9:49 PM on October 21, 2010


I'm an ostrich dreaming I'm a butterfly. Or was it the other way around?
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:01 PM on October 21, 2010


wow, I need to sleep and he's still going.
posted by yeolcoatl at 10:06 PM on October 21, 2010


With apologies to this little skit, this is how it feels for me these days.

user: hahahaha the king of kong is the funs. how cheater terrible is the billy mitchell. it is the greatest documentary.

jscott: it is a documentary with several flaws and misrepresentations.

user: but it is the funs. and it is a documentary and it is true and billy mitchell is the cheater terrible.

jscott: but it leaves important things out to make billy mitchell look like a cheating manchild.

user: i don't care.

jscott: they show billy mitchell refusing to come into a restaurant with steve wiebe, but in fact billy came in - and paid for lunch for the table.

user: i don't care.

jscott: they imply billy mitchell won't play a head to head game with wiebe but in fact they had done that very thing before filming started.

user: i don't care.

jscott: many of the people in the film have taken time to explain the issues, albeit verbosely.

user: i don't care.

jscott: but it's a documentary! they shouldn't be making up things?

user: it does not matter. it is the funs.

jscott: seriously! documentary! not reality show, documentary!

user: the reality shows are the funs and documentaries are reality shows.

jscott: but it's not true!

user: true does not matter. the funs is the matter. billy mitchell is cheater terrible. all arcade mens are the fat and the funny and it is the funs.

jscott: aiiiiiiiiigh (goes back to working on documentaries)
posted by jscott at 10:13 PM on October 21, 2010 [20 favorites]


King of Kong... wasn't that the delightful romp that smeared Billy Mitchell and depicted Steve Wiebe neglecting his kid to play an arcade game?
posted by deusx at 10:31 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, feed went down.

Also, this post was just mentioned in the chat. We've been spotted, run!
posted by JHarris at 11:58 PM on October 21, 2010


Feed is back.
posted by JHarris at 12:21 AM on October 22, 2010


I just installed MAME on my Ubuntu system and download a Joust ROM. And it doesn't work. Bah.
posted by salmacis at 1:21 AM on October 22, 2010


user: but it is the funs. and it is a documentary and it is true and billy mitchell is the cheater terrible.

I guess in my mind a documentary doesn't have to be true. I'm not saying you need to like it or that you should stop trying to tell people the truth about the events related in the film, but don't expect me to change my opinion of it since my opinion of the film is not based in its truth-telling.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:56 AM on October 22, 2010


I guess in my mind a documentary doesn't have to be true.

Your position is a bit stronger than that: you're saying a documentary can outright lie about its subject and still be called a great documentary.
posted by mediareport at 5:23 AM on October 22, 2010


Whoah whoah whoah! Mitchell paid for dinner? And they had played a game previously? And there was another guy who was champion and they left him out?

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:33 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Documantary - adjective - presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter, as in a book or film.

Documentary - noun - a work, such as a film or television program, presenting political, social, or historical subject matter in a factual and informative manner and often consisting of actual news films or interviews accompanied by narration.

I guess in my mind a documentary doesn't have to be true

If it doesn't present facts, then it is just a movie, not a documentary film.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:34 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm saying that, in my working definition, a documentary is a result of editing together documents in order to relate a narrative. I'm much less happy about applying the label 'documentary' to Nanook of the North than I am King of Kong. I think I might be more inclined to agree with the criticisms of Kong if the film's purpose seemed to be to get you to have an opinion of Billy Mitchell-- if it was a hit piece, in other words. It's possible some people see it that way. The film seems, to me, to be much more about revealing the existence of passions and emotions and politics in even the most esoteric of niche subcultures, and thus allowing the audience to extend empathy to members of groups that they would likely have previously dismissed: That, in my mind, makes it a great documentary. It isn't a film about Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, it's a film that uses Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell to be about competitive arcade game playing and record keeping and geeks.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:35 AM on October 22, 2010


presenting facts objectively without editorializing

Herzog's out, then.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:36 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess in my mind a documentary doesn't have to be true. I'm not saying you need to like it or that you should stop trying to tell people the truth about the events related in the film, but don't expect me to change my opinion of it since my opinion of the film is not based in its truth-telling.

Yes, I believe I covered your type in the previous message. Enjoy your funs about the cheater terrible.
posted by jscott at 5:49 AM on October 22, 2010


Thanks!
posted by shakespeherian at 6:15 AM on October 22, 2010


The record scores are pretty unimpressive. I expected a bunch of scores clustered just below the record, but they drop off pretty dramatically, from 107 million at #1, to 35 million at #6, to just 7 million at #10. This may be an opportunity for some upthread to get a ranking.
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:37 AM on October 22, 2010


I want to see him do this with the Atari ET game.
posted by antifuse at 7:50 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have to admit, my opinion of King of Kong has gone down of late from news of how it messes with facts in the name of telling a good story. A documentary does have, as its foremost goal, the telling of the truth.

One of the many subtle sicknesses that infests modern life, along with the infernal influence of branding, is the emphasis that news and documentary makers places on narrative. Narrative, it seems, is all-important. It's become less of a tool with which to make sense of facts and more of an end to itself. Instead of seeking a best fit, which is difficult and not even possible all the time since sometimes there is no easy thread of causation, it's looking like more and more they're just looking for the most entertaining story that can be projected from the facts.

If you have control of the editing, you can manipulate the footage to almost tell whatever story you like. It might be a good story, but if it's a false story then it's a bad movie, even if it's entertaining. Yes, this is an extra requirement of documentary movies above other movies. By claiming to represent reality, they take on the responsibility not to lie about it.

This doesn't mean that Billy Mitchel isn't a little skeevy, by the way, although the fact that most of us even know about him is either from King of Kong or that perfect Pac-Man game is a bit worrisome, isn't it?
posted by JHarris at 8:30 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


IMO, King of Kong is well out of documentary and into "based on a true story" territory.

Approaching fiction: "I hope it's a story well told"
Approaching documenatary material: "Fuck, this actually happened"

It's another in a long line of productions hoping to trick you into foregoing the first mindset for the second.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:43 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The first 106 million points are always the hardest.
posted by mazola at 8:46 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you have control of the editing, you can manipulate the footage to almost tell whatever story you like. It might be a good story, but if it's a false story then it's a bad movie, even if it's entertaining. Yes, this is an extra requirement of documentary movies above other movies. By claiming to represent reality, they take on the responsibility not to lie about it.

Documentary filmmaking has always been rife with falsehoods, whether it's Flaherty staging scenarios and cobbling together Nanook's family or battles restaged for newsreel footage. The term 'documentary' was coined by John Grierson, who defined the form as 'creative treatment of actuality.' Nonfiction is a form much more broadly defined than fiction (link to an excellent book, in which editor David Lazar writes that 'Nonfiction blends fact and artifice in an attempt to arrive at truth, or truths'), and you can find this in nonfiction works from Mark Twain to Elie Wiesel.

In any case, as I said earlier, I'm not trying to get anyone to like King of Kong who already doesn't like it, but I'm not going to stop liking it simply because it contains falsehoods.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:53 AM on October 22, 2010


I enjoyed King of Kong. I didn't feel it looked down on people who play arcade games, though it made some people look bad. But I also -- like many people, I suspect -- went and researched the story after, because I was interested, because I was curious, and I never would have cared (or read this FPP) had I not seen the movie. The things which struck me were not the things which were fictionalised -- in particular, I remember that they accepted (then significantly later rejected) a video from Mitchell.

I know that "based on a true story" is about as true as Law & Order's ripped from the headlines are, and it seems like documentaries are heading towards being based on reality (like reality tv, where it's real only in the sense that it's not quite scripted all the time). I am not sure what will take over as truth-telling, once documentaries have moved entirely to semi-fiction.
posted by jeather at 9:07 AM on October 22, 2010


Submitted without comment: Matt Zoller Seitz on Salon, today:

http://www.salon.com/entertainment/tv/jersey_shore/index.html?story=/ent/tv/2010/10/22/jersey_shore_catfish_im_still_here_authenticity
posted by steambadger at 9:11 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to stop liking it simply because it contains falsehoods.

What were the falsehoods/lies again? I realize stuff was omitted, but what were the outright lies? The examination/seizure of the console board was presented as ambiguous in the doc, I thought. I also thought the doc mentioned that Billy and Steve had played one-on-one once before. Maybe I was wrong.

A couple of questions, since you seem to have inside info ...

one who doesn’t even deign to spend time in the same location as Steve Wiebe and won’t even come in to eat lunch at the same table as him. In fact, Billy came in and paid for lunch.

but he didn't come in and eat with him, right? not mentioning that Billy paid for lunch is certainly misleading but I don't think it's a falsehood. But you're right, it should have been mentioned.

The videotape that Billy sends in has a suspicious glitch. The videotape was a copy and the original was sent in with no glitch.

This must be the most critical error of the film, no? I mean, that sequence with the videotape submission is the most damning for both Billy Mitchell and Walter Day. Why did Walter call Billy and ask him about the glitch if the problem was with a copy? It seems that something is missing here, especially as the movie inferred that Walter Day's decision to quit had to do with the whole unsavory incident.

What I’m saying here is that a good percentage of what makes the documentary “good” are made up conflicts, inaccurate reporting, smoothed-over narratives that are meant to make you root for one side or hate the other, when in fact reality doesn’t hold up to these allegations.

I would disagree here. Irregardless of the movie's biased presentation of Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe, the best part of the documentary is the early stuff on videogame fandom and record setting. I honestly liked that part a lot and wanted more of it, particularly from Mappy champ Greg Bond. He was my favorite. (I'd hoist a brew and chat about traffic with Mark Robichek too.)

The next best part of the movie is Billy Mitchell, to be honest. "Not even Helen of Troy" seems to have his ego. He is an incredibly funny parody of himself.

I do think there is a very fine line between appreciating the humor and bizarreness of a subculture and laughing at that subculture, but I wouldn't charge King of Kong with the latter. It certainly laughs at Billy Mitchell, but again, c'mon. They gave him the rope and he took it from there.

It is a fine line, though...

You have to play Burgertime so strategically it's not even funny.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:17 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, re: McAllister, it doesn't look like a live feed anymore ... is he still going?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:23 AM on October 22, 2010


presenting facts objectively without editorializing

While I do not think documentaries should contain falsehoods, or misrepresent facts, they tend to editorialize, and that's fine. Your making a demand for objectivity that would render 90 percent of the documentaries made into something else.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:27 AM on October 22, 2010


> While I do not think documentaries should contain falsehoods, or misrepresent facts, they tend to editorialize, and that's fine.

Yes, there's nothing wrong with documentaries having a slant as long as they're not obfuscating the slant (either with creative editing or with behind the scenes moves like not disclosing funding sources and the like).
posted by Burhanistan at 10:38 AM on October 22, 2010


He's still going. I think the feed cuts out after two hours so you need to refresh the page to get the new feed.
posted by chemoboy at 10:57 AM on October 22, 2010


Yeah, he's still going. He's been playing for, I think, forty-five hours, and has 91 million points. Last I heard, they were estimating that he'd break the record around 8 pacific time.
posted by steambadger at 11:00 AM on October 22, 2010


"Also, re: McAllister, it doesn't look like a live feed anymore ... is he still going"
 --mrgrimm

Live video can be accessed via this link.
posted by not_on_display at 11:02 AM on October 22, 2010


He seems to be playing even better than he was yesterday.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:02 AM on October 22, 2010


I admire this guy's stamina, but just a teensy bit of me wants David Blaine to be doing this instead, so it would be appropriate and right to hurl obscenities at him in an effort to throw him off his game.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:03 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the heck, go ahead and hurl obscenities at David Blaine anyway.
posted by mazola at 11:13 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm going to be a little bit sad when it finishes. it's sort of pleasantly reassuring, in a surreal way, to be able to check in on him every so often. Well, or to check in on his suffering, because that's what he's been up to. As I've been going about my normal day and night, working, reading, sleeping, he's been... playing Joust.

Each time he clears a level he sighs heavily now. He still gets mad when he dies, though it comes out in the form of him whining "it's not fair..."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:24 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, David Blaine, no!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:26 AM on October 22, 2010


I wonder what he does for fun? I'm guessing not play video games.

For some reason I always enjoyed watching other people play video games. It probably says something about me that I enjoy wasting time by proxy, but I've always found it relaxing.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:30 PM on October 22, 2010


96 million and still going!
posted by JHarris at 1:47 PM on October 22, 2010


99.2 million. Forty-nine hours.
posted by steambadger at 3:29 PM on October 22, 2010


100 million. I've had this thing open in a tab for two days now. I can't stop checking on it.
posted by steambadger at 3:52 PM on October 22, 2010


Yup, keeping this in an open tab too. This is a lot less omgwtf than the oil spill threads.

Two interesting things I've gleaned from watching. When he takes breaks he just leaves the machine and dies over and over again until he comes back. Also, the machine has already broken (at least) once. A button failed and they fixed it. He had to start over again, losing all of his saved lives. This is allowed in the rules.
posted by chemoboy at 4:34 PM on October 22, 2010


Four million from the record, and the button broke again. This time, he seems to have coaxed it back to life without the need for outside intervention.
posted by steambadger at 5:50 PM on October 22, 2010


I'm glad he's still going. Wonder if he will be when I get back from the evening out!
posted by limeonaire at 6:22 PM on October 22, 2010


Just to correct my previous statement: After discussion with the owner of the machine, the button broke but was fixed without shutting down the machine.

He is complaining that his "hands hurt." I'm not surprised. At his current rate (which is declining) it will probably be between 8 and 8:30pm PST. My bet is closer to 8:30, if not later.

Be there.
posted by chemoboy at 6:59 PM on October 22, 2010


They're estimating eight o'clock pacific. Interestingly, nobody has any idea at this point how many extra lives he has. The machine only shows the first five. His peeps were keeping track for a long time, but lost count a long time ago. So, he has somewhere between five and two hundred lives left. There will be a ceremonial count once he breaks the record and lapses into unconsciousness.
posted by steambadger at 7:09 PM on October 22, 2010


Apart from a recent lapse, he's hit his second (or 10th, probably) wind. It looks like 8pm will be closer, he's on a roll now. Pretty exciting to watch, actually. His gameplay is the best I've seen it since this post pointed me this way.

Unfortunately they don't know how many lives he has. If they had just counted the deaths, which is much easier to count, they could easily know.

I've declined to go out tonight. I'm going to nurture my inner geek.
posted by chemoboy at 7:33 PM on October 22, 2010


He's fewer than 200,000 points away! This is exciting!
posted by not_on_display at 7:56 PM on October 22, 2010


If you are going to watch, now is the time.
posted by chemoboy at 7:58 PM on October 22, 2010


Whee!
posted by jessamyn at 7:59 PM on October 22, 2010


Yay!
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 8:01 PM on October 22, 2010


Alright!
posted by robstercraw at 8:01 PM on October 22, 2010


Aaaaand, he did it.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 8:02 PM on October 22, 2010


He made it at 11:01 Eastern!

FLAP FLAP
posted by not_on_display at 8:02 PM on October 22, 2010


John McAllister --

I want you to know that I think I am the luckiest man in the world, and I say this not only because I have the honor to be a random guy on the internet, but particularly because I have the privilege of speaking for so many in welcoming you back to earth.

I was thinking, as the number came around, and we knew it was a success, and it had only been a couple-few days -- 52 hours -- that this is the greatest 52 hours in the history of the world since the Creation, because as a result of what happened in these days, the world is bigger, infinitely, and also, as a result of what you have done, the world has never been closer together before.

We just thank you for that. I only hope that all of us on the internet, all of us in America, that as a result of what you have done, can do our job a little better.

We can reach for the stars just as you have reached so far for the stars.

-- Sammy Mazola Jr

posted by mazola at 8:06 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


He was actively hallucinating at the end, I think...
posted by steambadger at 8:17 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure he was hours ago. Nice to watch this. Thanks, pashdown.

It's now in the hands of Twin Galaxies. The afterwards interview is nice.
posted by chemoboy at 8:26 PM on October 22, 2010


Victory!
posted by JHarris at 8:26 PM on October 22, 2010


w00t!
posted by geekyguy at 8:28 PM on October 22, 2010


Pretty fun to watch the record being beat. Thanks to the mefites who came.
posted by pashdown at 8:32 PM on October 22, 2010


Final score: 107,301,150
Finished with 103 or 104 lives (he killed them all off at the end since the game has to officially end).
posted by JHarris at 8:35 PM on October 22, 2010


Is he still going of is this a replay?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:38 PM on October 22, 2010


They're just playing miscellaneous games and talking now, the game is over. If you're still watching it something is amiss.
posted by JHarris at 8:41 PM on October 22, 2010


Did they just have to unplug and then plug in a new switch when it failed or was it more extensive than that?
posted by Mitheral at 8:52 PM on October 22, 2010


The control problem was with dirty contacts, they just sanded them during play while he lost lives on screen.
posted by JHarris at 9:27 PM on October 22, 2010


No wonder the switch(es) broke. He was smacking the hell out of that flap button!
posted by zsazsa at 9:28 PM on October 22, 2010


No wonder the switch(es) broke. He was smacking the hell out of that flap button!

I was thinking the same thing. Jesus dude, lay off the flapping!
posted by jscott at 8:32 AM on October 23, 2010


Wait, I just realized that ostriches can't fly.
posted by not_on_display at 8:48 AM on October 23, 2010


Wait, I just realized that pterodactyls are beatable.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:06 AM on October 23, 2010


Wait, I just realized that ostriches can't fly.

Well they just haven't been flapping their wings hard enough.


(Apologies to my very favourite New Yorker cartoon)
posted by Flashman at 12:02 PM on October 23, 2010


Here is an amazingly well-played 45 seconds of the record game.
posted by exogenous at 5:46 PM on November 8, 2010


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