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The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

Thinking too much about video games – Mario and Heroism

Thinking too much about video games - Mario and Heroism

While David Bowie sang “We can be heroes, just for one day” few heroes have sustained the same level of lifetime recognition as Mario. I don’t know that any other fictional character has accomplished quite so much, save for perhaps Mickey Mouse himself. He was a plumber in Brooklyn, he has been a doctor, and when he isn’t saving the day he competes in most sports at a professional level. Mario is a man who will not hesitate to drop his vacation plans if it serves the greater good. He is a hero of mythic proportions.

The biggest paradigm shift for Mario takes place during his roleplaying adventures. In Paper Mario (2000) it is no longer enough that Mario has a 6 foot vertical because he doesn’t have the same abilities as his friend Kooper the Koopa. And this is true of all of his partners! Goombario is a little Goomba named after his hero Mario, and he serves as a wealth of knowledge from which Mario better understands the strange worlds he finds himself in. Bombette is a Bomb, and she blows up holes in the wall to find secrets that Mario could never find by himself. In the Paper Mario games Mario needs his friends.

Heroism is a funny thing, and its conceptualization feeds into some of our society’s most vulnerable tendencies. To imagine a “strong man” who is capable of single handedly solving great and complex problems often serves to deny the contributions of the many people doing the hardest work on a daily basis. For every Martin Luther King Jr. involved in the Civil Rights Movement, there were thousands of organizers who were just regular people fighting for their equality whose names most of us will never know.

The enshrining of individuals in the role of a hero concentrates power on the individual, and it relieves the collective of their individual duty to the cause. What’s more, if a “heroic” individual is capable of having their legacy erased, what becomes of the movement? Mario is a fictional character, seemingly incapable of corruption, never once wavering in the face of his dangerous duties. But in the Paper Mario series, we get a better look at the man.

Mario is strong, he can jump really high, and we all know that at the end of the day he is going to defeat Bowser and save the day. However, in real life there are few “heroes” but there are a lot of individuals who come together and accomplish great things.

Academic success is a lot more like Paper Mario than one of the plumber’s other adventures. Most student’s need a strong base of support, study groups, financial aid support, child care, etc. in order to graduate. These are the realities of the college journey, and the strongest reason I encourage students to get involved with a club, organization, or some group on campus is to try and make friends on campus. Successful students look out for each other and rely on each other as well. We can accomplish great things when we work together.

 

 

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