I think that will vary from individual to individual and that is something they will need to assess themselves. Steve Sanders talks about his epiphany and how he believed he was wasting his life.
The time period that Chasing Ghosts homes in on is a period where the whole business of video gaming was new, it was hot and the future was bright but unknown. Kids (not only the ones featured in the movie) were led to believe that if they were good at video games that they would be rock stars. And we know how the rest of the story goes.
Playing at the arcade was a social event much like anything else I did when I was a kid. Some of these guys in Chasing Ghosts got to travel, were in Life magazine, on TV and now on film and in that respect I don't see that as a waste.
Some may have the opinion that I am wasting my adulthood playing classic games, playing in tournaments, restoring arcade cabinets and writing magazine articles etc. But, it is something I enjoy and I do my best to balance that with family time and other interests in my life so that it does not become the only thing in my life.
That may have been Walter's weak attempt at trying to create awareness that there needs to be a museum for classic games and it will become a reality for him in a few months.
Basically, a video game high score is regarded by those outside of the gaming community as an insignificant achievement. Nevertheless, the tournaments and high score attempts still attract media coverage. See Doris Self on CBS News as an example.
What exactly is the price that these folks have paid?
Very good points made, for sure. I guess the way I look at it is this; the overall feeling I got from the movie Chasing Ghosts was one of sadness. I felt sorry for the majority of these people. I understand that editing can make mountains out of molehills, though, but I'm just going by my gut feeling. I am certainly no one to say what's a worthy way to spend a life, lol! And I suppose if one of these 'stars' like Billy Mitchell had other things going on in his life besides wearing tacky ties, acting aloof and selling hot sauce, then I suppose these were pinnacle years for them. The one fellow who lied about his scores and became a lawyer (now, if that isn't hilarious, I dunno what is!) saw things for what they were, but again...I feel sorry for these folks.
The main reason is that these guys, unlike the majority of sports stars, actors, other types of meaningless celebrity, seem to be completely full of themselves. Other than the sympathetic character of Steve Weibe (who also is drawn out as a 'loser'), not one of these guys comes across as a genuine fellow. At worst, they come off as lackeys...no, wait, at worse they come off as freaks, like the guy who sleeps on his floor with Christmas decorations up all year round along with his collection of venomous spiders and other insects. Or the eternal virgin scorekeeper who collects pornographic superhero art. Or old man Walter Day "singing" his songs which he believes coulda been chart-toppers.
If anything, Chasing Ghosts is a collection of what 'normal' really is, which is acheiving mediocrity. I'm not saying that playing video games, new or old, is a waste...not at all. But when you have these clownish characters in these movies going on and on about how great they are, were, or are going to be...it's sad. You'd think they'd at least be humble about their 'achievements'...I mean, look at Billy Mitchell. Not only him, but his PARENTS...I mean, these people are just hilarious, and the filmmakers knew this. Average people watching these movies are going to laugh at these 'gamer gods' of the past. I suppose that's a personal thought of mine, and to each his own, but that's how I see it.
See here is the problem. Being the king in a video game is the ultimate paradox on this planet. I mean that. Just think about it for a second. Name another thing that you can be the best at, and get absolutely no money for it, and be laughed at when you bring it up in casual conversation. Just take a look around.
If you are the greatest basketball player,football player, soccer player, hockey player, baseball player, mma fighter, boxer, kick boxer, swimmer, weight lifter people will idolize you, and wear your jersey number. If you are the greatest artist people will pay millions for your work. If you are the greatest arguer you will be a millionaire lawyer. In music if you are the greatest disco, rock, grunge, heavy metal, grind core, soul, R & B singer, rap artist you will be rich have groupies, and have people playing your songs over, and over again.
Yet if you are the greatest at a certain video game you will be laughed at by the general population, and thought of as a freak. In the past year I have entered the video game realm, and been fortunate enough to break 3 different records. Space Jockey, and Galaxian for the Atari 2600, and the Donkey Kong 3 Arcade record. Yet not only does this not improve my station in life, but if I were to casually mention what I have done to a complete stranger they will have the same exact feelings that you do.
How freaking sad is that? I was even told by Crazyclimber to keep silent about my Galaxian record when trying to get a woman. And you know what? He is absolutely correct. I live in a society where if I speak of my accomplishments to strangers I am thought of in the same context as a cross dresser who claims to have been abducted, and anally probed by aliens. I live in a society where not only am I not supposed to be proud of what I have done, but I am supposed to be ashamed of what I have done, like I have committed some atrocity against man.
By the way about your full of themselves line. Are you serious? You really think that the big name Singers, Stars, and athletes are not full of themselves? Really? Have you seen Kobe Bryant, or Lebron James? Heck have you even had a conversation with a college athlete? Most are far, and beyond full of themselves. Every time you hear about some student doing something horrific to another student in front of other students it is always the high school jock that is doing it.
And one last thing. Here is why the video gamers in King of Kong, and Chasing Ghosts seem so cocky. Although they all have different personalities they all have one thing in common. The interest in making video game records more popular in general. So what you are seeing is not necessarily cockiness. I see it more as puffery, and hyperbole. All these people including even Mr. Awesome know full well what their accomplishments mean in society at large, but they are exaggerating to the fullest extent in order for others to also become interested in what they are doing. Just think of them more as salesmen for their craft when watching these documentaries. I guarentee you that if you do, you will have a new understanding about what is really going on.
You broke the Atari 2600 Galaxian record?