There are two kinds of summers: summers where you work hard for “the man” only to come home and enjoy those three digit temperatures, and then there are the lazy summers filled with avoiding direct sunlight at all costs and lots of video games.
More summers than not, I have chosen the air-conditioned splendor of the latter. And to be honest, I think I’m smarter for it. Video games can teach a child more than any “job” could.
The high water mark of the video game industry is undoubtedly
“Super Mario Brothers,” and Mario is the best teacher a kid could ask for. For example, I’m sure most people have a father or an uncle who will occasionally gripe about the female population of planet Earth. You may overhear a “Women; can’t live with them, can’t kill them” or two. But, if you were a video game player, Mario should have already taught you this lesson. If one stops and ponders the game of “Super Mario”, it all becomes astonishingly clear.
Why must Mario leave his life of peace and plumbing to take on man-eating plants and angry turtles? It’s a woman’s fault, more specifically the Princess’. If the Princess didn’t get captured as often as she did, Mario might be able to take a break every now and then. After repeated adventures, the Princess still does not know to be on the look out for kidnapping giant green dinosaurs. Despite her terrible memory, Mario must come bail her out every time. In fact, feminists could argue that Mario is the most underhanded example of women-bashing on this side of a burning bra.
Getting a job also means leaving your normal environment for an all-new daily experience. This puts you into contact with individuals you would not normally come across, including those with that are different in gender, race, and religious belief. Meeting new kinds of people can help debunk different stereotypes and assumptions. But you don’t need a summer job to teach you how people may be deceiving. One glance at Mario and you can see some unconventional characteristics. Mario is an overweight plumber who probably hasn’t seen his feet in years. Yet, he can leap five times his height and throw a turtle shell over 100 yards. Mario also suffers from the cruelest
fate of all: running for hours on end and not being able to lose a pound. Before seeing Mario in action you may be apt to dismiss an overweight Italian plumber as a poor athlete; but now, you know better.
Another lesson a summer job will teach you is to always try your best, and that success is not without sacrifice and risk. Once again, Mario comes into play. In the game, Mario cannot
advance to the next stage without making it all the way to the end of the current level. To do this, he would have to conquer some pretty tough enemies and some seemingly impossible
jumps. This would be impossible if the player sat afraid of the possibility of plunging the plumber to his death. Mario taught us that risk is a natural part of life, and that we must at least try if we want any chance of succeeding.
Do you keep falling down a bottomless pit to the tune of 8-bit music? Mario does, and he gets back up immediately and tries again. And darn it, you should too. Sure, “Grand Theft Auto” can teach children the consequences of stealing a car and then setting it on fire. Or coin-op classic “Frogger” can show the merits of pedestrian safety. But without a doubt, Mario is the senior professor of Video Game University. Regardless, video games shouldn’t be brushed off as a lazy summertime-killer. Instead they should be recognized for the valuable lessons they can teach us.
Sean Blanda can be reached at