John McWhorter teaches linguistics. Long distance running is popular in Israel. San Pan Tong was renamed from Ban Mae in 1939. Pachycalamus brevis, is a species of reptile in the Trogonophidae family.
Q: What do these four facts have in common?
A: You probably don’t care about any of them.
Your hair is on fire. You were fired. There’s a bear under your desk. Your wallet got stolen.
Q: Do I even need to ask you the real question?
Those statements are so intrinsically important to you that you are concerned, invested and ready to take action.
In order for a player to take action, they have to care.
If you’ve been playing video games for a while, you probably recognize the three power-ups above this paragraph. In fact, you would probably go to extreme lengths to pick one of these up while playing a game – even if it was a new Super Mario game you’d never played before. Why?
Because years of experience taught you to care about them.
… but do you remember the first time you saw one?
I do. The first time I saw a mushroom, I confused it with the Goomba monsters and tried to jump on it. My dad laughed and told me it was OK to touch that one – but that moment of confusion stuck with me.
Super Mushrooms had a Clarity problem. They were easily confused with the most basic enemy. However, once I eventually did touch a Super Mushroom, I consistently began seeking out Super Mushrooms and using them. Why? Because they allowed me to make 1 mistake that would otherwise end the game.
Consequentially, I rapidly taught myself to overcome the clarity issue. Because I cared about what they could give me.
|The Product of Iteration|
Future Super Mario Bros. game went to great lengths to positively reinforce the beneficial effects of Super Mushrooms and reduce the clarity issues. After Mario 1, Super Mushrooms consistently had faces and were red and white – a different color scheme than Goombas who remained brown.
The mechanic of granting you additional hits went untouched until Mario 64. That was 11 years of importance that are now deeply ingrained in your psyche.
Changing gears a bit, let’s talk about the Invulnerability Star. The first time you saw one, what did you notice?
- It was bouncing
- It was flashing
- It was running away from you
Invulnerability lasts about 10 seconds… then slowly wears off.
Why? Let’s pretend that had been forever. How would the game change? How would the game change if it only lasted 1 second? Exploring this space will be the topic of my next post…
What does Super Mario do to reinforce and clarify how drastically the game experience has changed while you are invulnerable? A quick glance above should reveal at least 3 major things. A skilled eye will catch a few more. Post how many you caught in the comments below.