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Why Kids Love Mario (and what we can learn from it)

Mario made his first public appearance on July 9, 1981. His first appearance was in the pioneering Nintendo arcade game Donkey Kong. He was first called "Jumpman" and he was a carpenter rather than a plumber.

"Jumpman" had to jump over barrels that were being thrown by Donkey Kong in order to save a damsel in distress (which would later be called Princess).

Since those humble beginnings, Mario has come a long way. Over the last 30 years, Mario has appeared in more than 200 video games and has been referenced in hundreds more Nintendo and non-Nintendo titles.

The game that defined Mario and turned him into a video game megastar which was Super Mario Bros. which was played on the NES game system.

Mario is the most successful character in video game history. The world knows about the little plumber that wears a red hat, jumpsuit and Italian mustache. The main Super Mario series alone has sold more than 410 million copies worldwide.

Another example of Mario dominating the video game world is the popularity of the new Mario movie. Combined with last weekend's massive $146 million U.S. haul, the animated movie has grossed $678 million worldwide since premiering on April 5. The Super Mario Bros. movie has quickly become the highest-grossing movie released in 2023, surpassing Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania ($474 million worldwide).

Super Nintendo World is a themed area at Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood. Further areas are under construction at Universal Studios Singapore and the upcoming Universal Epic Universe at Universal Orlando.

So why do kids (and big kids) love Mario games so much? Why do they spend hours on end with Mario's games? I can speak with authority in this matter. In my 20's and 30's, I would spend many hours late at night, just trying to "beat a level" so I could move forward in the game.

What can we learn from the success of Mario? Let's talk about this for a few minutes.

It is extremely easy to pick up and play. Make sure your games and activities are easy for kids to play. The games and activities that you use should be age-appropriate.

The games are simple, interesting and memorable. Not to mention a lot of fun. Use games as part of your lesson or class time. Make them simple, interesting and memorable. Make sure they are a lot of fun for kids to play.

They change the game up and keep it from getting stale. The latest graphics are a lot better than the 1981 version. Each new game or console is better than the previous ones. Why? Because the producers are always striving to improve the game and produce new games.

Stale is a great word to describe what is happening in a lot of churches. They aren't moving forward because they are obsessed with the past. They are trying to live in the glory of what happened 20-30 years ago.

A car has a small review mirror to see what's behind you and a huge windshield to look ahead at what is coming. Stop spending so much time looking through the review mirror that you can't see the fresh things God has ahead for you. Are you willing to change? Are you open to trying new things? Are you holding onto methods and programs from the 1980's? Don't get stuck. Always be looking at what's ahead for you.

Players feel like they are "exploring and conquering a strange world." Kids are taken on a journey that is filled with challenges and awards.

The Bible contains the greatest, most exciting stories ever. Take kids on a fun adventure as you help them learn the stories and lessons contained in God's Word. The greatest stories deserve the greatest presentation.

Teaches kids to be resilient. In the Mario game, kids face challenges, obstacles, failures, defeats, mistakes and disappointments. At times it can be very frustrating. You get all the way to the end of a level and you fail. I have seen kids get angry when they lose a hard-fought level and start throwing their remote, yelling, and threatening to destroy the game system (okay...I confess...that has been my reaction at times).

After the failure or loss, the game is still there...waiting to see if you will quit or come back to try it again. It teaches kids to continue on even when you face obstacles, challenges or defeat. This is an important life lesson we must teach children. We must help them to become brave and to keep on moving in-spite of setbacks.

Your turn. Do you play Mario games? What have you learned from the Mario games that apply to ministry? Share your thoughts and insights in the comment section below.


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