The Philosophy of Donkey Kong

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Character Breakdown: Donkey Kong
The Donkey Kong Workout
The Skills of Donkey Kong
The Philosophy of Donkey Kong

Let’s be honest here.  Donkey Kong is, on the whole, a pretty chill dude.  We’re going just off the game canon here(not the CGI TV show they did for a little while), and in the start of every game, it seems like Donkey Kong’s just living the good life, chilling out on his island with his family and friends, and eating some bananas.  Now, DK may at least give the perception of being somewhat dimwitted and mentally lethargic, running more off his brawn than his brain, but I think this gives the big guy an unfair shake.  Let’s take a bit of a deeper look, and delve into the idea of a simple means lifestyle.

First off, what do we see of Donkey’s home life?  He lives in a somewhat ramshackle tree house.  Mose of his furniture is constructed from tires, coconuts, or driftwood.  His main source of sustenance is the bananas which grow all over his island, as well as other occasional fruits(watermelon, pineapple, coconut, etc.).  His clothing is minimal – all he wears is a freaking tie.  And yet, with these few possessions, DK seems to live a pretty easy life.  Heck, Donkey’s biggest problems are his family asking favors of him, with the exception of when K.Rool decides to be a K.Asshole and make off with his family/friends/belongings.

So what can we take from all this?  Well for starters, take a minute and ask yourself, what do you really need in life?  I mean, really?  Food.  Shelter from the elements.  Clothing(in most societies).  Social interaction.  Mental stimulation.  These are the base necessities of the human life.  In fact, those first three necessities?  The only reason there’s any variation at all is because of the last two.  Why do you need a big, fancy house, with expensive, nice clothes, delicious food, expensive electronics, and all the things that go hand-in-hand with a modern first-world-country life?  Either entertainment, or social standing.  That’s it.  All those “things” you own beyond the basic, basic necessities are there to either a) Keep you from being bored.  b) Keep you from falling down the social ladder.  Or c) provide you with a reason to buy more things.

Let’s face it.  We enjoy our things, but those things are not the things we need.  When do you have a more fun time, sitting in your room at 3AM playing some single player game by yourself, or hanging out with friends/family and playing a big multiplayer game, or a board game, or just hanging out and goofing off?  Which is more memorable, those two hours of street fighter arcade mode you played when you were little, or the neighborhood-wide snowball fight that lasted three hours and ended with everyone soaking wet and laughing your asses off?

A little under two years ago I hit a crossroads in my life.  I was extricating myself from an extremely negative situation where I not only was in a bad place personally, but I was associating with the wrong people, and valuing the wrong things in life.  I got out, took my first breath of fresh air in a long time, and made a simple motto for living:  Experiences, not things.  I was going to start putting the majority of my time and energy into experiencing everything life had to offer, instead of buying everything the store had to offer.

Now, does this mean I gave up all my belongings and started living a spartan lifestyle of essential-only living?  Of course not.  And I don’t advocate this for you, necessarily(unless it sounds good to you, in which case, go for it!).  I still buy video games, electronics, occasionally get extravagant food(lobster and sushi are my weak points), and partake in private time with my favorite single-player games.  But I do it in much more moderation, and whenever I drop money on a big ticket item, I ask myself beforehand if I’d rather put it towards hang-gliding, traveling to another country, or learning a new martial art.  These are all current goals of mine.

Eventually, with this mindset, you may find the commodity you find yourself wishing most for is not money, but time.  I always want more time to do more awesome stuff, spend time with my family, or just walk in the woods and enjoy the world around me.  Realize that the DK lifestyle is not inaction, but appreciating that the best things in life are there for us to experience, not to buy.  We don’t need much to live, but there’s so much offered to us in this world if we want to take advantage of it and really LIVE.

That’s probably bringing us to the end of the DK segment.  Not sure what we’re gonna do for tomorrow and friday, but we’ll find out!  It’s an adventure!  And next week, starting monday, we’re taking a look at the First Lady of Fighting herself, Chun Li!  As always  remember to like the blog, follow me, and live an awesome life.

Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace

Donkey Kong and all  property therein are © Copyright Nintendo Entertainment.

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7 thoughts on “The Philosophy of Donkey Kong

  1. Pingback: Experiences Over Things » Be a Game Character

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  3. M.E. Wasserman says:

    Thanks for this article. I really found a lot of your commentary on Donkey Kong to resonate with how I felt about his character. I feel like the music of the DKC games also informs Donkey Kong’s character traits. I always felt they showed a strong sense of courage, determination, and a fun-loving attitude.

    Kudos.

    • DaRatmastah says:

      Thanks! This is actually one of the oldest posts on the blog, so I’m glad it stood the test of time =D

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  5. Pingback: The Skills of Donkey Kong | Be a Game Character

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