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Where Is The Cast Of King Of Kong Today?

The 2007 documentary King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters isn't just about the classic arcade game Donkey Kong. It's also about Steve Wiebe, a beleaguered schoolteacher with something to prove. It's about Billy Mitchell, the former Donkey Kong champ who'd allegedly do anything to stay on top. It's about scorekeeper Walter Day and the integrity of his life's work, the score-tracking organization Twin Galaxies. It's about the men and women who spend thousands and thousands of hours working to be the very best video game players on the planet.

King of Kong ends with Steve Wiebe finally winning Donkey Kong's top score, but if you think that the drama ended after King of Kong's credits rolled, think again. Supposed cheating scandals, personal grudges, and battles for video game supremacy continue to dominate the classic arcade game community, and all of the familiar faces from King of Kong are front and center.

The master scorekeeper

After devoting thirty years of his life to video games, Walter Day decided to move on. After all, the man who founded Twin Galaxies, the high score-keeping organization that supplies data to outlets like the Guinness Book of World Records, had been documenting and verifying video game performances since 1982. That's a long time, and we can't blame the guy for wanting to take a break.

Day stepped down from Twin Galaxies in 2010, claiming that he wanted to focus on his music career, although it's not clear if he's released any albums. He's also committed to producing sets of trading cards under The Walter Day Collection banner. Day's trading card company started as a Twin Galaxies offshoot that memorialized some of the best arcade game players in the world, but it's since expanded to include series based on eSports athletes, sci-fi and fantasy authors, and famous figures from throughout history.

Day hasn't left video games behind entirely, of course. He regularly drops in at gaming conventions, and helped the Smithsonian American Art Museum launch an exhibit called "The Art of Video Games." Day is the guiding force behind Ottumwa, Iowa's International Video Game Hall of Fame and its associated Walk of Fame, too. Naturally, both Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe were among the Hall of Fame's inaugural inductees.

The lackey

If you've seen King of Kong, you probably know Brian Kuh best as the man who described himself as Billy Mitchell's protege. You know, the guy who wandered around the Fun Spot arcade pestering everyone about Wiebe's Donkey Kong kill screen? Yeah, him.

In King of Kong, Kuh comes across as a fawning sycophant, but he's actually an accomplished arcade gamer in his own right. After all, you have to be dedicated if you're going to retire from the banking business at age 30 so that you can live closer to your favorite arcade. In 2006, Kuh made the record books by setting 16 records on coin-operated arcade games in one day, more than anyone in history. Kuh now spends his days working as an attendant at the Half Moon Amusement Arcades, which gives him numerous opportunities to practice when he's not helping other customers.

Kuh clearly loves his job. In fact, in 2016, he set a whole new record: after finishing a 112-hour work week at Half Moon, Walter Day confirmed that Kuh set the record for the most hours worked in a week by an arcade attendant. It's not clear who, if anyone, held the record before him. Instead of cashing his paycheck, Kuh decided to sell this dubious piece of video game history on eBay. The auction ended without receiving a single bid.

The disgraced champion

Todd Rogers doesn't play a huge role in King of Kong, but as one of the earliest members of the Twin Galaxy crew (not to mention the very first "professional gamer") Rogers is a key figure on the competitive retro game scene — or he was, anyway, before his legacy was rocked by scandal.

In 2017, a software engineer analyzed the code behind Dragster, an Atari 2600 game, and determined that the fastest possible run takes 5.57 seconds. Anything faster is technically impossible. Yet, Rogers claims to have done just that — in fact, his 5.51 second Dragster game held the world record for the longest-standing video game record in the world.

After months of investigating, Twin Galaxies decided that Rogers' score was probably fake and threw it out. It didn't stop there. During analysis, many of Rogers' other records emerged as equally dubious (especially since Rogers was a Twin Galaxies employee himself for a number of years), and ultimately Twin Galaxies stripped Rogers of his records and banned him from competition. A couple of days later, the Guinness Book of World Records did the same.

The "impartial" judge

Robert Mruczek, Twin Galaxies' chief referee, stepped down from his position at the end of 2005, and quit Twin Galaxies entirely in 2006. If you weren't part of the scene at the time, it's hard to tell why. A number of forum posts from the time have gone missing, making it difficult for internet archaeologists to reconstruct the story. For his part, Mruczek has recently given some interviews to tell his side of the story.

It clearly wasn't a clean split. By 2008, Mruczek took to internet message boards to complain about Twin Galaxies' handling of high score tapes. For a while, he was banned from the Twin Galaxies forums, allegedly for complaining about Walter Day's management style and failures by the Twin Galaxies organization. He's come out against Todd Rogers, who he calls "the brother that I never had," agreeing that Rogers might've faked his scores by entering them into Twin Galaxies' database himself.

Mruczek's post-Kong life hasn't been all bad, of course. During the late '00s, Mruczek started offering bounties for hard-to-achieve high scores, paying the prize money out of his own pocket. He still shows up at gaming conventions like the one at Funspot, which was featured in King of Kong, and continues to pursue his other interests, including collecting erotic artwork.

The would-be star

After making a minor appearance in King of Kong, the winner of Twin Galaxies' Classic Video Game World Championships Dwayne Richard became a film star on his own. In 2016, directors Andrew Seklir and Tim Kinzy released Man vs. Snake, a documentary that chronicles the eight year journey to achieve the high score on Nibbler, a game better know to most people as Snake.

In Man vs. Snake, Richard plays the antagonist to Tim McVey, a one-time Nibbler champion who's out to reclaim his title. During a show-off at Maryland's MAGFest convention, Richard's Nibbler machine malfunctions, disqualifying him from the competition. A couple of months later, Richard secures the high score. However, when Seklir and Kinzy analyze the footage from Richard's run, they discover a flaw in Richard's Nibbler board, making his record ineligible (as Richard points out, it wasn't cheating — it was just bad luck).

Richard is largely retired from competitive Nibbler (Man vs. Snake shows him going into charity), but he clearly enjoyed the filmmaking process, because he's also made two "documentaries" of his own. The King of Con alleges that The King of Kong is a fabricated hoax designed to raise Mitchell, Wiebe, and Day's celebrity, while The Perfect Fraudman is an anti-Mitchell hatchet job. Production-wise, both pieces are pretty rough, but if you want an alternate take on some of King of Kong's most interesting characters, the videos are just a few clicks away.

The court jester

Former bodybuilder Roy Shildt is one of King of Kong's weirdest side characters — and in a film like Kong, that's saying something. Years before he appeared in King of Kong, Shildt tried to use his Missile Command top score to make himself a minor celebrity. Under the name Mr. Awesome, Shildt published books and videos, dressed in a military-esque uniform in public, and appeared in Playgirl twice — once after he won a contest, and again after buying a full-page ad (he also sent copies of the magazine with his pictures to Madonna, who he claims called him and was "desperate for his sperm").

And after King of Kong? As far as anyone can tell, he's up to pretty much the same stuff. He maintains a bizarre website that accuses Twin Galaxies of fraud and which used to hawk copies of his book, Mr. Awesome: The Comic Book Life of Roy Shildt, a guide for picking up women that allegedly contains pornographic photos starring a variety of "rich and famous Hollywood types" (we couldn't find a copy for verification).

In 2010, Mr. Awesome was kicked out of a gaming convention for screaming at Billy Mitchell. He makes videos implicating Walter Day and Twin Galaxies in various conspiracies. Despite his age, he's still active on the bodybuilding circuit too, although be warned — this video of Schildt's 2015 tribute to Arnold Schwarzenegger is not for the faint of heart.

The deposed king

Not everyone who appears in King of Kong is embroiled in controversy — not anymore, anyway. In the early '80s, Steve Sanders submitted a Donkey Kong score to the Guinness Book of World Records. It was accepted without question. That ended up being a mistake: Sanders' score was a lie, and he was exposed as a fraud a few years later.

Sanders confessed his crimes, and his courage impressed many members of the Twin Galaxies crew. Billy Mitchell became one of Sanders' closest friends. Yet, Sanders gave up video games shortly thereafter, and didn't play seriously for the next twenty years. He became an attorney and opened his own law firm. He got married and had four kids. Life was good.

In 2006, while filming King of Kong, Mitchell convinced Sanders to give gaming another shot. Sanders fired up Joust, and set a world record for a doubles game. In 2009, Mitchell convinced Sanders to keep going, betting him either $1,000 or a pizza if he could take the top spot (Sanders opted for the pizza). Sanders' redemption didn't end there, however. In 2011, Sanders beat his own Joust doubles score alongside his 17-year-old son, Isaiah. In 2012, the father-son team beat the record again, and they've vowed to keep going until they crack one million points — something nobody's managed to do quite yet.

The plucky underdog

Steve Wiebe is no longer the king of Kong. In The King of Kong's epilogue (which was added after the movie was finished), Wiebe manages to secure the Donkey Kong world record with a 1,049,100 score. He lost his throne shortly afterwards. In 2007, just a month before The King of Kong's nationwide debut, Wiebe's on-screen rival Billy Mitchell set a new record with 1,050,200 points. Wiebe rose to the top again in 2010 but was quickly unseated by newcomer Hank Chien. He hasn't held a Donkey Kong record since.

Thankfully, Wiebe has plenty of other projects to keep him busy. Not only does Wiebe still teach math at Redmond High School in Washington state, but he's managed to leverage his King of Kong fame into a minor show business career, too. Wiebe cameoed in Four Christmases and the pilot episode of Breaking In, which were both helmed by Kong director Seth Gordon. He played the head of security in Horrible Bosses, popped up in Amazon's Sneaky Pete, and had a small role in Adam Sandler's retro game themed action-adventure flick Pixels.

That's not all. According to The King of Kong, Wiebe is a talented musician, but doesn't like performing in public. Apparently, his newfound fame soothed some of his anxiety. In 2009, Wiebe released a Christian album called The King of Song (get it?) and joined My Chemical Romance for an on-stage drum solo.

Villain or victim?

The King of Kong paints Billy Mitchell as a hot sauce-slinging villain. In contrast, Mitchell and his friends claim the documentary manipulated footage to make him appear worse than he really is. Rulings made by multiple organizations and websites initially made it seem like Mitchell is the antagonist The King of Kong wants him to be. However, new developments indicate there might be more to the story.

In February 2018, Donkey Kong Forum's Jeremy Young analyzed footage from many of Mitchell's record-setting Donkey Kong runs and concluded they were played on an emulator, not an arcade cabinet. In response, Donkey Kong Forum stripped Mitchell of his high scores. Twin Galaxies and the Guinness World Records soon followed suit. Mitchell continued to plead his innocence and even pursued legal action, yet much of the gaming world branded him as a liar and a cheat.

Mitchell struggled for years to clear his name, and on June 17, 2020, Guinness World Records announced the decision to reverse its 2018 ruling due to "compelling new evidence." Mitchell's high scores have been reinstated, and he is once again recognized as as the first gamer to reach the kill screen on Donkey Kong and first gamer to score 1 million points on Donkey Kong. This move places Guinness World Records in conflict with Twin Galaxies, which remains embroiled in a defamation suit with Mitchell.

The big ape

Robbie Lakeman. Wes Copeland. Hank Chien. If you only know Donkey Kong from King of Kong, then none of these names will mean anything to you. If you've been following the scene, then you know: those are just some of the competitors who unseated Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell to become the new kings of Kong.

Chien, a plastic surgeon from New York, started playing Donkey Kong after seeing King of Kong. He traded high scores with Wiebe and Mitchell for a few years before coming out on top. Copeland and Lakeman's prolonged back-and-forth over the past few years has been just as exciting as anything in the movie, and seemed to come to an end when Copeland finished a "perfect game" in 2016 and subsequently announced his retirement. Lakeman beat Copeland's score a year and a half later (and he beat that score the following month).

As for Donkey Kong himself, well, the big ape's doing just fine. DK remains one of Nintendo's core characters, appearing in company mashups like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. and headlining his own series of 2D platformers. Donkey Kong's original game still gets lots of love, too. In fact, in 2017, Donkey Kong's original cast — Mario, Pauline, and a retro-styled Donkey Kong — reunited in Super Mario Odyssey's New Donk City for a musical tribute to the arcade classic.