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Fierce play at Kong Off 3 fails to unseat Donkey Kong champ

December 12, 2013 | By Alex Wawro

"If anyone beats my world record, I'll leave it alone. But if Vincent beats it, I'm gonna be on the machine every day until I get it back!"
- Hank Chien, Donkey Kong world record holder

The Kong Off 3 competition took place last month at the 1UP barcade in Denver, Colorado, and today Vice's Motherboard blog published a brief video documenting the event and the story of two heated competitors: Hank Chien and Vincent Lemay.

Hank Chien is a 39-year-old plastic surgeon who also happens to hold the Donkey Kong high score: 1,138,600 at the time of this writing, though that number changes semi-frequently as Kong players are constantly competing to claim the top spot on the leaderboard.

Lemay, by contrast, is a 22-year-old self-described "meathead" from Quebec who currently holds the third-place spot on the global Donkey Kong leaderboard with a score of 1,135,900.

"I don't really care about winning," Lemay told Motherboard before the competition. "The only reason I'm here is to beat [Hank Chien]."

Motherboard's video is worth watching, though not for the competition itself: nobody managed to beat Chien's high score during Kong Off 3, and Chien himself took third place with a score of 1,056,900.

It's everything that happens around the competition that makes it worth caring about. The fact that such events still occur for a 30-year-old game is cause for celebration -- Chien states in the video that what excites him about Donkey Kong is less the game itself than the community that's grown up around it.

Lemay himself is actually quite a few years younger than Donkey Kong, which launched in 1981. The semi-secret history of its development coincides with the earliest days of gaming, but events like the Kong Off competition suggest that games are capable of fostering meaningful relationships long after their launch window has come and gone.

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