How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World

Donkey Kong main image in the post How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World

An All-Time Classic

Donkey Kong, the pet gorilla of a now very famous plumber, is turning 30 next year. With this, it may be the best time to go on a nostalgia trip and take a look at all of the glory Donkey Kong has brought to the gaming scene. Donkey Kong is an all-time classic, but only a few know how much this game has actually influenced gaming as we know it today. Let’s dive in and see exactly how Donkey Kong changed the gaming world.

Image of retro Donkey Kong consoles in the post How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World
We had the orange Game and Watch console on the right
Donkey Game in the post How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World
Paving the way for the platformer game

The Gameplay

In the year 1981, Nintendo released one of the world’s earliest platform games. In Donkey Kong, you play as a character named Jumpman (now known as Mario), and maneuver yourself from platform to platform, in order to get to the top of a construction site and save Pauline, the damsel in distress.

The catch? At the very top, you have the star of the show – Donkey Kong, hurling whatever he can at you, to stop you from accomplishing your mission. Like with any game, every time you finish a level, the environment gets harder – you will eventually encounter things like moving platforms, more complicated obstacles, and more difficult to avoid items being thrown at you.

The game, not quite the first of its kind, definitely revolutionized platform gaming and left the world in a complete frenzy.

Image of Donkey Kong in the post How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World
Pioneering the damsel in distress gaming plot

A Clever Plot

Trust me, this was very clever at the time. Back in the 80s, very few games actually had story’s or plots. Donkey Kong, the antagonist, kidnaps Jumpman’s girlfriend, Pauline, and it’s your job to get her back to safety.

Alas, the concept of a damsel in distress was born. Yes, Donkey Kong was in fact the first video game to utilize this concept. After Donkey Kong was born, the world began seeing countless games that share the same idea of saving a damsel in distress, even up to this day.

The Donkey Kong Legacy

Donkey Kong started as an arcade game in 1981. However, with how popular it became, Nintendo saw no other choice but to milk it for all it’s worth. Rest assured, the fans were very pleased with that decision. 

Donkey Kong made big moves over the years and would be made available to play on several different consoles. Now, if you want to experience it for yourself, you can also play Donkey Kong on the NES, the Atari, the Wii, the Gamecube, the Nintendo e-Reader, the Switch, the 3DS, and the Gameboy to name a few. 

With over 50 versions of this game available to play across several of Nintendo’s platforms, Donkey Kong proves that it truly stands the test of time.

Donkey Kong postage stamp in the post How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World
Donkey Kong's presence felt on the French postal system
Donkey Kong branding in the post How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World
Soft drinks with arcade game branding

An Inspiration To Modern Gaming

So far, we have seen that Donkey Kong has certainly taken the gaming world by storm. This game alone has greatly popularized platform gaming and introduced the damsel in distress concept to the gaming world.

Even after almost 30 years later, we can still see games using these ideas, and there is no sign of them ever going away. Not that we want them to.

Think about it, how many games involve, or even have a short segment wherein your character needs to jump from platform to platform to get to a destination? How many games involve the main character doing everything in their power to save a damsel in distress? How many games involve a bad guy “throwing” obstacles to stop you in your tracks?

It may not be obvious at first, but if you take a closer look, you can certainly see the influence Donkey Kong has had on modern gaming, whether the game’s developers know it or not.

A True Celebrity

This game was in fact so popular, that Donkey Kong has become known to people even outside of the gaming world. Mainstream media saw this as an opportunity to market, and now we have all sorts of merchandise that promote Donkey Kong. The products range from mugs, pillows, action figures, cereal, clothing, all the way to life-sized replicas of Donkey Kong himself. To add to this, Donkey Kong has even had a movie, which definitely shows how much the media, and the people love this character.

Over the years, Donkey Kong has become way more than just an ordinary video game character. Donkey Kong has grown into a global celebrity, with a massive following of loyalists.

Looking Back And Forward

The day Donkey Kong was introduced to the market, can be marked as one of the most historical moments in the world of gaming. Since its inception, the gaming scene took leaps and bounds forward. Plots revolving around the damsel in distress concept have become exponentially more intriguing and several games have found even more clever ways to integrate platform gaming.

A brief look at the past of gaming will show that Donkey Kong has greatly influenced quite a number of other classic games, which we probably wouldn’t have if it weren’t for this classic.

The future looks very bright for gaming. With an immensely strong platform (no pun intended) set up by Donkey Kong, games have and will continue to have a very strong foundation to lean on. Although several game developers may not even know or think about it, Donkey Kong has laid down a very good template for a potentially successful game to follow.

30 years in the future and we can still feel the impact of Donkey Kong in the world of gaming. Likewise, it is very plausible that the impact of this all-time great will still be felt for years and years to come.

Image of Donkey Kong in 10 cool things about the 80's
Like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong is a global celebrity
Image of Donkey Kong 3
Donkey Kong 3, released in 1983

Final Thoughts

Donkey Kong has influenced the world in more ways than we can imagine and in more ways than we can ever comprehend. Who would have thought that such a simple game with such a simple plot could end up being a classic template for so many future games to follow? 

Without Donkey Kong, gaming would be very different from what it is today. Before we go wild from all the newest graphics and all the crazy intricate plots of modern games, let’s take a step back and appreciate how Donkey Kong changed the gaming world.

Donkey Kong Country Game in the post How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World
Nintendo unveiling the new Donkey Kong Country game for WiiU in LA in 2013

What are your thoughts on Donkey Kong? Let me know in the comments section below.

For more cool stuff about the 80’s, read 17 Cool Things From The 80’s.

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Donkey Kong Gift Ideas

There is a lot of memorabilia out there, especially on Amazon, Etsy and Ebay. Amazon is usually cheaper with more selection and so I’ve chosen them. And if you’re not super satisfied with what you’ve bought, their returns policy is really good.

With so much to choose from, where do you start? My focus has been on cool, fun and quirky items, all garnering decent ratings from well-priced sellers.

Please note that I am an Amazon Affiliate and receive a small compensation if you use my links, but it will not increase your purchase price. If you use my links, I truly appreciate it 😉

Monopoly Gamer

Mario Monopoly as nostalgic presents for men in the post How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World

The ultimate Mario board game. Play monopoly with all the Mario characters. 

Check it out on Amazon.

Donkey Kong T-Shirt

Donkey Kong shirt as nostalgic presents for men in the post How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World

The classic Donkey Kong arcade game on a shirt. A must for any real fan. 

Check it out on Amazon.

Mario Mug

Mario Mug as nostalgic presents for me in the post How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming Worldn

Watch the Mario world come to life as you sip on your favourite hot beverage. 

Check it out on Amazon.

Toad Mushroom Lamp

Mario lamp as nostalgic presents for men in the post How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World

The coolest and cutest night light on Amazon no doubt.   

Check it out on Amazon.

8 thoughts on “How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World”

  1. Great article, Murray, thanks for taking me down memory lane. With regards to Donkey Kong or Tetris, I was never one for things like The Rubix Cube, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, or any games really. These days I look after myself by doing exercise; As sitting around playing video games could make you fat!.

    I even shunned jigsaw puzzles!

    1. I played a lot of those games as a kid, Joe, but nowadays I just can’t justify the time. If I do see an arcade game, I will throw in a few coins, but I won’t play for too long. I’ll just satisfy that nostalgia craving and then leave. 

  2. I think Donkey Kong was a revolutionary game that really made a mark in the history of gaming. Especially, as you say in your article, in pioneering the platform game. I’m not much of a gamer myself but I remember back then how much of a frenzy it used to cause in arcades and its nice to see it still has relevance till this day. 

  3. This is such an interesting article. I didn’t know Donkey Kong was the first game to use a damsel in distress. I really enjoyed reading this. Now I understand the hype for this game, besides it being fun to play. No wonder there is so much merch related to it. I haven’t played this game in so long I honestly forgot it existed! Thanks for the nostalgia.

  4. Reading your article ‘How Donkey Kong Changed The Gaming World’ was such a nostalgic experience and I am sure that there are a log of people who will agree with me. Donkey Kong really was in all sense of the word, a game changer that rocked arcades for years. Even now, the influences of donkey Kong on pop culture prevails and can be seen in movies like ‘Pixels’. 

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