We got an Atari 2600 when was seven or eight years old. It was the golden age of the arcade game, and although I didn’t know it, there was a fat plumber out there making waves. His name was Mario. He had a brother named Luigi. Together, for some reason, they were called the Mario Bros. I’m not sure why Mario got to be the namesake, perhaps they just didn’t have a last name.
The first time I popped the Atari 2600 Mario game into the console, I was hooked, although I didn’t know just how much time I’d be spending with these guys.
From those humble beginnings, I followed them through a video game timeline including Super Mario Brothers one, two, and three. Super Mario World on the SNES. Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64, and now both of the Galaxy games on the Wii.
I still had no idea about the story behind it all. That’s where today’s post really comes in. I recently read a book called Game Over: Press Start To Continue, The Maturing of Mario. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the creation and rise of the popular characters, but also at Nintendo itself. I had no idea the history of the company was so tangled and fascinating. Why? Because those are not the kinds of things kids think about. They think about video games.
If your story is at all similar to mine and you’re a gamer who reads, I highly recommend checking this book out, along with Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell.