You can only imagine my excitement when I opened up this Sunday’s Washington Post and saw a big article about Mario staring up at me from page, er, N12. OK, I’ll admit, I didn’t even hear about this article until I saw a link to it on Joystiq. I’m lucky if I get past the comics in the Sunday Post’s huge dead-tree edition.
But sure enough, the back page of the Arts section is devoted to Nintendo’s plumber mascot. Why? Well… um… let’s see. It’s been 21 years since Super Mario Bros… 24 years since his premiere in Donkey Kong. New Super Mario Bros. is already old news. Super Mario Galaxy is still shrouded in mystery… hmmmm.
OK, so there’s no news peg. The angle is simply that the Mario series is still remarkably popular — in the US in general and the DC area in specific — despite the higher media profile of more violent games. Which is an OK point to make, I suppose, but not really one I’d expect the Post to spend so much space on, even during the slow summer months.
Maybe I’m just bitter because they managed to track down Michael Koyfman, who “five years ago, at age 12… started his own Web site, the Super Mario Fan Club,” but didn’t bother to contact the person who founded Super Mario Bros. HQ eight years ago at age 14 (read: Me). That’s probably it.
In other mainstream-game-news-that-I-first-found-through-a-blog-despite-subscribing-to-the-dead-tree-version, Newsweek has an interesting piece describing the Japanese arcade scene from an outsider’s perspective. Unfortunately, the author apparently didn’t feel this cultural portrait was enough to carry the story — the last few paragraphs ham-handedly try to add a message about demographic shifts and Japanese youth joblessness to the otherwise fine article. The “youth employment problem” even makes its way into the subhead, despite being a very small part of the actual article. I’m sure youth joblessness in Japan is a very interesting issue, worthy of its own article, perhaps, but throwing it on to the end of a piece that focuses on the culture of Japanese arcades seems like a poor choice to me.