PBS was pretty slow to embrace the Internet, but in the last few years they’ve really gone full out. They’ve remixed Mr. Rogers, they’ve been doing some pretty compelling short documentaries about all sorts of topics. And their first dedicated webseries about video games, Game/Show, is… really interesting, actually. First of all, it’s hosted by James Warren of Kill Screen, who’s probably one of the better games journalists out there at the moment. Secondly, it makes a pretty compelling case that long after everybody reading this is dust, we’ll still be playing Mario games:
I do have a few objections: Describing games entirely in terms of their story is a risky proposition, because video games are both stories and collections of rules. The more finely tuned and rewarding those rules are, the more compelling the game is. I do think that the Mario games are some of the most finely tuned and carefully designed games out there, but I wish this entry had dug a little deeper and discussed the appeal of platforming and karting games done right.
Will Mario, Link and Sonic Last Forever? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
Nonetheless, Warren makes a very interesting point. Mario really does fulfill the hero’s journey, and while we may not think about the story of Mario games very much, it is a pretty compelling and common theme throughout the main franchise. Of course, it doesn’t hold up when you look at other Mario games, but then again, they can’t all be harsh commentaries on the seeming brutal randomness of life like the Mario Party series.