No Input Required: Chasing Ghost

Available on Netflix Instant, the 2007 documentary on the Twin Galaxies arcade and the people that did everything to achieve and keep their high scores in the international scoreboard is cringe worthy hard to watch. These people make it that way because at times I can relate to their over powering desire to be the best but the delusional world they inhabit scares the fuck out of me. It’s almost like it’s own version of Scared Straight, except it’s about moderation and video games.

Chasing Ghost: Beyond the Arcade

Directed by Lincoln Ruchti

For those of us that have seen the famous documentary King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters you’ll recognize most of the people involved. All the assholes from that movie are the stars of this one! Unsurprisingly since both movies were filmed at the same time Steve Wiebe is no where to be found in this glorious take on Twin Galaxies and the people that make it up. Billy Mitchell is just as much of a douchebag as he’s always been and while it’s obvious the director is trying to put them in as nice of a light as possible, it’s a struggle. The people involved have a wide range of impact based on the events from competitive gaming and thankfully it seems like a couple survived the ordeal to remain nice people with real lives.

Ben Gold for example won the very first Video Game World Championship on live television and went on to lead a successful life. He’s still a geek but he’s got things going for him and he’s aware that chasing high scores is in his past. Not to mention he didn’t look like a weirdo even when he was a kid. That’s nice. But he’s the rarity in this movie. No you’ll be seeing a lot of Billy Mitchell and Walter Day say some out of this world shit that baffles the mind that anyone actually believes it, including them. Trying to swing a positive light on them is even harder once the others start talking about Billy. It seems everyone, just about, hates him. Billy thinks it’s because of his “success” in competitive gaming. But I’m sure it’s because he’s a giant jack ass. Walter Day comes across ok, he’s just a bewildered old man singing folk songs about love and is getting tired of this score keeping job. Works for me but his undying love for Billy is the part that weirds me out. Right when you think it can’t get any worse, the dam breaks and Mr. Awesome (aka Roy Schildt)Leo Daniels and the guy with the spiders in his closet that sleeps on the floor because he doesn’t have a bed.

Besides the people, the documentary follows everyone getting together to be in Life Magazine. Probably the proudest moment of any of these guys and rightfully so! Especially the spider guy who’s name I can’t remember! Thankfully a few happy moments are in the film, the reunion of two old friends Joel West and Ron Bailey who loved a game and still feel adamant about being the true high score holders of the game Bezerk. After 30 years of not seeing each other and living relatively close they decide to get over their past and become friends once again. It’s one of the few heart warming moments of the documentary.

But to put things simply, I’m sorry I watched this movie. It is quite possibly the most depressing thing I have watched about human beings involved in video gaming. As someone who has competed in game competitions at a world level it scares the fuck out of me. I don’t want to turn out like these guys.

Bryan Belcher

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