Apr 15, 2008

Super Mario Bros theme performed by an RC car on a row of liquid-filled bottles

http://view.break.com/487616 - Watch more free videos

Mario: A video game that inspires one to reach into his/her multiple intelligences and express oneself completey.

Apr 12, 2008

Apr 11, 2008

Brain Development and Effects of Video Games

This post is a continuation of my comments from a gamer interview with two eight-year old boys inspired by and related to the topics headlined above. (sans tedious citations)

Back in the (my) day (50's to 70's) young boys' (ages 5-12) leisure activities typically involved physical activities on the playing fields (stick ball, sandlot baseball, football on what ever ground was available, basketball on any sort of court), running around outdoors, collecting baseball cards, playing with slot car racing sets and playing with action figures (first military related ( i.e. “army guys”) then fantasy related (i.e., Ninja Turtles)).

Since the advent of video games, which coincided incidentally with the advent of the “working mom”, or the double income household, followed by the emphasis on organized community youth sports (a guilt induced solution for the absent caregiver syndrome brought on by the dual income family unit), the playing field has changed. Instead of playing outdoors, boys are playing indoors in their leisure time waiting for parents to return from work, waiting for parents to bring them to extra curricular activities or community sports practice, etc. Boys have adapted and the indoor playing field has proved to be as exciting as the outdoor playing field. The indoor playing field, of course, is the latest and greatest screen (CRT, HD TV, etc.,)

From the 50’s to the 21st century the games are the same. In their core they are the same. Rules, competition, bravado, and victory reign. Only the playing field has changed. From the realities of the muddy field to the mysteries of the virtual world, boys are exploring the many faces of the entertainment world. Boys are exploring the ultimate challenge of pinpointing the ultimate goal, the source of extreme fun.

Fun for boys is defined by that which naturally induces competition and opportunity for bravado. Mario Kart is the epitome of such fun.

Apr 7, 2008

Boys just want to have fun!

Boys just want to have fun!

I think I only see one girl's name in this long list of Mario Kart world record holders.

Go with the FLOW! After all, it's only a game!

After observing two eight year old boys play this game, I realized that I am missing out on a lot of fun! Investigating the learning in Mario Kart is not the point, so it seems. Knowing what you're learning is not the point. Investigating the fun is the point. Why is this game fun? You can play over and over and over again under a multitude of conditions. The potential for repetitive play is inherent in a game that is fun to play. Forming relationships with the characters, actually talking to them while playing, is another prerequisite for fun. Boasting about your accomplishments and moaning/defending/rationalizing your defeats to your friends is fun, too. Figuring out the best kart and character combination is fun. Expressing hatred for particular characters to your friends is fun. Getting to the next level is fun even if it takes you a very long time. Cheating with cheat codes you find on the internet is fun! Not reading the instructions booklet and figuring out the game by yourself is fun! Beating a girl at the game is fun! (Not beating a girl at the game is humiliating, though.) Being obsessed by and addicted to a game is fun. Losing track of time is fun, until someone yells at you to stop wasting your time (what little do they know). Most of all, loving the game is fun!

Mar 24, 2008

Virtual and Augmented Reality and Mario Kart

Have you checked out "Real Life Mario" in my links section. It really is a hoot! It's pretty close to a virtual reality Mario Kart experience with folks, like you and me, taking to the racing circuit in a full body (not just thumbs) kinesthetic way. Each player in this video chose which character he wanted to be, dressed appropriately, designed his own vehicle for speed, acceleration, drift, etc., and finally through a collaborative effort with other Mario Kart avatars designed and constructed their own race track. They video taped the experience and uploaded it to YouTube to share with all the other Mario avatar wanna be's.

During a recent family gathering , I engaged my 11 year old nephew in some Mario Kart DS play. He proceeded to trounce me in three consecutive WFC (Nintendo Wi-fi connection) match circuits. Of course, he was delighted and I was shocked that my defeat was so decisive, since I had been practicing diligently in anticipation of this occasion. Did I mention that the wine selection for the evening was particularly engaging?

Here's another interesting twist on Mario Kart play.
Mario Kart Drunken Dash - Editors of the Eastern Washington University newspaper (of Cheney and Spokane, Washington) recently conducted an experiment using the Mario Kart driving simulation game to illustrate how much alcohol affects the way people drive.


Of course, the results are in keeping with the saying, "Don't drink and drive."

So what logically follows here is the installation of the Mario Kart driving simulation kiosk in every drinking establishment. Before leaving a bar patrons would be required to use the Mario Kart driving simulation (preferably the new Wii version with the Wii wheel: see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA5IDMaKt1g ). Their performance in the game would determine whether they would be issued a "not licensed to drive" ticket signifying their failure to pass a Mario Kart Grand Prix test circuit or a "licensed to drive" certificate signifying their ability to perform accurately and safely behind the wheel of a real automobile. Granting this certificate would insure safer streets and protect bar owners from those who helplessly blame bar proprietors for their poor judgment at the wheel. With all the college students already engaged in Mario Kart game play (see links) this should be an easy requisite to enforce.

All of this leads me to a huge question: How could Mario Kart Wii lead to an augmented reality version of Mario Kart that would guide drunk drivers home, or prevent drunk drivers by automatically disabling their automobiles if their performance is subpar? I could make big bucks off this idea, don't you think? Is this just the Mario Tycoon effect? Or as is so often the case, did someone already think of this?

Most Frequently Mentioned Video Game

On Thursday 2/06/08 I conducted a survey asking 39 first and second grade boys and girls which video games they liked to play. Eighty-Five percent (85%) mentioned this game. Click on the PLAY link below to play a version of this very popular game.