Donkey Kong: A Metaphor for Life (DC-MD-VA Marketing Services)

I am a child of the 80’s.  My early years were spent in boardwalk arcades at the Jersey Shore, pouring quarters into the original Donkey Kong machine.  I got pretty good at it, and eventually, I could cruise past the jumping barrels stage, drop DK from the rivet structure, beat the elevators and even conquer the pie factory with ease.  But, while others basked in the sun and played in the sand, I tried again and again and could never get past the fourth level elevator screen.  Those fast bouncing springs would not allow it.  I would watch others do it, but was way too shy to ask them how it was done.   Eventually, I just gave up.  I knew I was a decent player and just getting to that point in the game was an achievement.   Most friends and family members were impressed, so it was good enough for me.

Life is like a game of Donkey Kong.  Getting through high school, college, and then the start of our careers  –  each step can be a bit more difficult than the last.  Most of us do quite well jumping a few barrels and avoiding the occasional fireball early in life.  With practice, we learn the patterns needed to navigate the challenges that our jobs and families throw our way.  Much like the construction site level of DK, we knock out our “rivets” (goals in life) one by one, and when we succeed, the “monkey on our back” gets knocked down, and a happy song plays.  We are excited by our victories, at least for a while.

But it is only temporary – because in life, like Donkey Kong, things are always changing and that big ape grabs the princess and takes her away again and again.  There is always another level to conquer, and the barrels come quicker, and the fireballs dart more erratically, and yes, the bouncing springs get faster!  Sometimes I feel like I am at the fourth level elevator screen of my life.  The business marketplace is changing rapidly, so learning new professional strategies will be required to move forward in my career.  My teenage daughters will soon be headed off to college, forcing my wife and I to adjust to a new stage of our family life.   You might be able to relate.  Many unexpected obstacles certainly lie ahead for all of us.  We’ve done fairly well to get to this level – so maybe this is good enough.  Should we just take our quarters and go home?

I don’t think so!  Don’t be shy.  It’s time to ask some “expert players” for advice, consult the “strategy guide” for our careers,  and learn how to break through to the next level of life.  Push to climb past the latest obstacles, whatever they may be in your job or family.  You’ll figure it out, drop that ape on his head and then you can celebrate again.  Sure, soon after the music stops, another new level will begin and Donkey Kong may grab the princess and take her away, but you’ll be chasing close behind!


Mike Petrusky is an Account Executive for Kayrell Solutions.  He has been offering marketing products, services and solutions to clients for over twenty years.  The business landscape is constantly evolving as new technologies and market strategies develop.  While he works hard each day to be a resource for organizations, helping meet these challenges, he has still not yet gotten past the fourth level elevators of Donkey Kong.