Dinner with Steve Wiebe (of The King of Kong fame)

This past Thursday evening, Ray Winninger, Jennifer Ritzinger, Arthur Yasinski, and I met Steve Wiebe for dinner at Pomegranate in Redmond, Washington. If you're not familiar with Steve, he's featured in the recent documentary, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. My wife and I saw the movie a few weeks back at Big Picture in Redmond and loved it. Even if you're not a fan of classic video games, this is a great movie (don't take my word for it).

Immediately after the movie, I told my wife that I'd love to find Steve and take him to dinner (he lives in the area). He seemed like a great guy in The King of Kong, and although I don't hold any current records, I have held a few in the distant past, and I figured he'd be fun to spend some time with.

I happened to mention the movie to Arthur at lunch one day, and it turns out that he lives just down the street from Steve...and has seen him playing Donkey Kong in his garage many times! 🙂 With Arthur's help, I was in touch with Steve's wife, Nicole, a few e-mails later, and it wasn't long after that that we had set a dinner date.

Fast forward to dinner. Let me start by saying that Steve Wiebe is exactly as he is portrayed in the movie. He's polite, considerate, very likable, smart, and respectful of everyone he talks about. Steve was a mechanical engineer at Boeing where he worked on landing gear, and he's currently teaching seventh grade math in the area. We spent almost three hours talking and enjoying a great dinner. Among many "behind the scenes" stories, here are a few other tidbits from the evening:

  • Steve has liked Donkey Kong since his younger years, and they had a machine at his fraternity in college. The first time he reached the kill screen, he thought the machine was defective. Only later did he learn that this is the last screen in the game.
  • Steve doesn't play Donkey Kong while school is in session. I'm very impressed at his self-control!
  • Steve was aware of the Galaga bug that causes the enemies to stop firing for the rest of the game, but he didn't know the details. As a huge Galaga fan myself (remember my post, Make Your Own Mini-Galaga?), I was thrilled to add a little video game knowledge to the conversation.

As a side note, before dinner, Ray, Jennifer, Arthur, and I decided to try our hands at Donkey Kong to see who could get the highest score (we have a machine in the office). If anything, it would give us an appreciation of Steve's amazing achievement of 1,049,100. After a couple of rounds, I happened to get the high score of 26,600...and that was on a machine that gives you six lives! Pretty sad.

Thank you to Steve for saying "yes" to dinner. It was a fun evening!

Comments (21)
  1. Arthur Yasinski says:

    As the only member of the dinner group that had not seen the movie, I have to say that I walked away with more of an appreciation for Steve the person than Steve the movie star.  Plus, it has me compelled to see (and likely own) the movie.

    Plus, it taught me that my colleagues have past lives that are very interesting.  🙂

    Outside of recommending the movie, I would recommend everyone to find a way to go out for dinner with your peers and not talk about work.  Learn about their past, their hobbies, and their lives.  It’ll make working with them that much more enjoyable.  Trust me.  

  2. Had a fun time visiting with Chad this weekend. We played Halo 3 co-op and beat it a little faster than

  3. Had a fun time visiting with Chad this weekend. We played Halo 3 co-op and beat it a little faster than

  4. Former Student of Mr. Wiebe says:


  5. Steve Newman says:


       Steve Weibe is the real deal.  I just watched The King of Kong and marveled at how Steve performed under pressure.  I was continuously amazed at his drive to not give up.

    It seems his wife truly loves him for his character.  Although from a few scenes I think his kids felt a little neglected :-), but they are extremely fortunate to have him as a Dad.

        I was searching online to try and find an email for Steve.  If you get a chance could you shoot him my comment.  I want him to know that The King of Kong was one of the most inspirational documentaries I have seen on the lesson of never giving up.  For me it wasn’t about getting the highest score on a meaningless game, it represented never giving up in life.  Eventually, we will be successful on that which we are seeking.  Thank you Steve Weibe for not giving up.

    ~Steve Newman

    Lansing, MI

  6. Big Fan says:

    Steve Wiebe is the MAN!!! Watched the movie and loved it! Can’t wait to see if he achieves his next goal.

  7. Brian G says:

    Saw the movie and it was very good!  Steve is a genuine good guy and I hope he gets the record again.

  8. Dave says:

    I watched the movie last night, and have to say that it was a very interesting story. In my eyes Steve is the true champion. As for Billy, he seems to have built his whole life around that high score.  Quite sad.  I hope Steve gets the high score back.

  9. Hi Steve,

    I just wanted to offer my support and to say I admire your integrity. I’m an Australian classic arcade game admirer/pinball collector and Senior Australian Air Force Officer who has done two tours of the war on terror in the middle east. Yes, arcade enthusiasts come in all shape and sizes!

    I just want to wish you the best and I hope you kick Billy’s but.

    Kindest regards,

    Julien Greening

  10. Fessic says:

    Just watched this last night on Netflix.  There’s something to be said for things like Character and Sportsmanship.  You know, those old fashioned concepts you just don’t see much anymore.  But Steve exhibited both of these in spades and is the better person for it.  How admirable and inspirational (as others here have pointed out).

    To Steve, I second Dave (above), you’re the real champion as far as I’m concerned.  Not because you got the high score, but because you did the right thing in the face of so much mean-ness.  I say let Billy have the "High Score."  Because you’ve already won a much greater (and more important) contest.

  11. Terri Dewey says:

    The movie just aired on G4TV- mind you I am not a gamer but my husband and oldest child are.  We live in the Redmond area and both my husband and child would probably love to meet Steve.  

    The fact that he had the patience and drive to continue to achieve his goal with all that was thrown in front of him is very admirable.  I’m beyond impressed!  

    I also admire his wife Nicole and their children for supporting Steve! I feel that Billy is a bit cowardly for not facing Steve head on publicly.  

    In our book Steve- you are the real high score holding champ!

  12. Rob Donner says:

    Steve Wiebe is a great guy.  That is the highest compliment given by someone else who is an arcade-game nut.  As far as I’m concerned, he is the champion, and I would love it if he made his email address available so we can tell him, because I really don’t think he understands that so many people recognize him as the champion.  In any case, my compliments.

  13. Cory Fortin says:

    I just literally just finished watching the moive “The King of Kong” (the credits just finished about 2 minutes ago!)  I have to say, that the this movie moved me so much.  I was rooting for Steve the whole time, and it makes me happy to hear that he is as nice as he seemed on the movie.  I live in the Seattle area, and I hope to run into Steve when I visit in Redmond, just to shake his hand!  I can’t believe that the other alleged previous record holder wouldn’t even acknowledge Steve’s scores, attempts at a friendly competition, or anything.  Also, I can’t tell you how frustrated I am for Steve knowing that a fuzzy tape of a score over a million was accepted for Billy, but not the other tape made by Steve previously.  I am so impressed with Steve’s detication, and as a teacher and as a mother, I have to say that seems that Steve has more than Billy will ever have- a wonderful wife, loving and fun children, and a very respectable career.  Good luck to you Steve!  

    If there is a way to forward this to Steve, please do, I am sure he would be so pleased to see all his fans are rooting for his still!

  14. Robert Bennett says:

    I usually never do this, but this movie was very inspiring. Whatever happened to nice guys finishing last? I think Steve just turned the world upside down. This was truly an amazing story, and I would like to congratulate Steve on all his hard work and determination.  In retrospect I’m not sure if Billy knows how truly superficial he is? Anyways in closing, I feel this story was alot deeper than just a documentary about a high score, and more about a persons determination to over come. Good luck to Steve and all his future endeavours.

  15. Dean C. says:

    Love Mr. Wiebe, amazing guy. Huge fan of the movie. I’ve actually made tee-shirts for him just as a fan and nothing more. If anyone is interested in one let me know. I’m selling them at cost which is $6.00. They’re great tee’s!


  16. John Spartan says:

    King of Kong was very enjoyable.  I met Steve Wiebe at E for All last week.  He was playing Donkey Kong, trying to beat Billy’s top score that he gained back for charity.  You can check out the video here


    Anyway, when I first watched the film, I was on the same boat as you guys about Billy.  But after doing some research, I found out that Billy isn’t as bad as the film made him out to be.  In reality, Billy wasn’t hurt by the fact that Steve topped his score, because at the time of the film, Billy wasn’t even the highest scorer for Donkey Kong.  The score that Steve Wiebe beat was by another player.  Also, Billy acknowledged Steve at the Classic Gaming Expo in 2004.

    Here you can hear Billy and Steve being interviewed together.


    I can go on, but my point is, the filmmakers, to make a more interesting film, made Billy the enemy.  If you still think otherwise, please discuss.



  17. arthur says:

    This seems to be the closest I’ll get to sending Steve (and the doc-crew) an email (or at least a proper place to leave a note).

    Just zapped in the documentairy this evening and was catched by the integrety of Steve and the way he was portretted. Very catchy, liked every minute of the filmed story.

    Steve, hope you do well. Congrats on your successes (and even more on your determinate-ness or whatever you call it). DocMakers, hope you keep up the good work. Really good television.

    Best regards,


  18. Max Jackson says:

    Wow, congratulations Steve. Now there is a very admirable guy and a true stand up competitor. I am not surprised that Billy whatever his name is didn’t have the courage to face Steve, because not only would he have embarrassed himself but would then have been exposed for the forgery he committed with the tape he sent in. The guy is so smug, talks the talk but doesn’t have the spine to give Steve the respect he deserves. He really should watch Mr.Awesome’s videos and stop embarrassing the United States by using the initials USA.

  19. True says:

    Man, I have watched KoK a dozen or so times now.  I am always impressed by the drive shown. I also can’t help but wonder if the movie ment to smear Mr. M as it came across.

    To Steve,

    It also shocks me that you do not own or manage a business.  With drive like you have you would be the idea person and I would not think twice of offering you a business oportunity.(tom.mattinson@hotmail.com)

    Mike, Sounds like you had a great time and I am sure I don’t need to tell you that there is a good list of people that would love to be in your shoes that night.

  20. grasshopper says:

    regardless of the outcome, it sounds like Wiebe won the crowd over and was the true "king of kong" in most everyone’s opinion

  21. jbtiv says:

    Steve just reclaimed the high score: http://www.twingalaxies.com/index.aspx

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