In Ottumwa, Iowa, Walter Day founded Twin Galaxies, an organization formed to keep track of high scores achieved on arcade games in the United States. Billy Mitchell, having achieved the highest ever recorded scores on Donkey Kong and Centipede in the 1980s, remains a video game legend in 2005. Twin Galaxies has now become a global organization. Mitchell is portrayed as unabashedly cocky and fond of self-promotion, proclaiming himself the "Sauce King" of Florida for his successful line of homemade hot sauces. Next to his family, Mitchell considers his arcade scores to be his greatest life achievements.

On the other side of the country, in Redmond, Washington, Boeing employee Steve Wiebe has been laid off as a Boeing engineer, and now spends his time as a science teacher. His friends and his wife, Nicole, describe him as an unfortunate figure who always comes up short, despite being proficient at music, sports, art, and mathematics. He was a star baseball pitcher but was injured and unable to pitch in the state championship. He is a gifted drummer yet does not care to perform. Preparing to get back into the workforce, Wiebe begins going to night school to get a masters degree and obtains a Donkey Kong machine to play in his garage as a pastime. After reading about Mitchell's world record of 874,300 on the internet, Wiebe focuses on mastering Donkey Kong and successfully achieves a score of 1,006,600 points.