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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.