I saw the movie today. SPOILERS I think I see why this game survived for all those years. Unlike most video game villains, Ralph is actually pretty sympathetic. He had his home (that tree stump) dug up and thrown into the garbage dump, just so they could build a luxury condo for a bunch of fuckin' 1%ers.
But really, I can't understand why Ralph can't be a good guy. I mean Donkey Kong made the leap sort of successfully. Why not Ralph?