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The power of video games

Dustin Mennella | Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Remember what the word pong meant before college? I never actually played it on the Atari as a little kid, but it started a revolution.

My first video game was Super Mario Bros 3; my parents wouldn’t let us have a Nintendo at our house, but they bought one and kept it at my grandparents’ house. Whether it was to keep us from playing all the time or to get us excited about visiting our grandparents all the time, I don’t know but it resulted in both.

Since the glory days of Super Mario, when the cartridge only worked half the time and only two people could play at a time, video games have come a long way. Now I can play Call of Duty 4 with my cousins in Oregon and Washington, enjoying a fun game while keeping in contact with family members I typically wouldn’t hear from except at holidays.

Some people look down on video games and say that they destroy childhoods and eyesight, creating introverted personalities and frying minds, and I agree that there are some who become addicted to this virtual reality. For the most part, however, if you keep things in perspective and remember that a great world exists outside of the TV screen, then these games can be a great way to relax and connect with friends.

With increasingly advanced technology being applied to more fields and in new ways, sometimes keeping up to date can be difficult – having skills in video games can help with this transition.

For example, surgeons who grew up playing video games make 37 percent fewer mistakes according to Marc Prensky, a CEO of Games2train, a company which makes informational tutorials fun by encoding the information in the form of a video game. On their Web site are all types of games with topics ranging from windows NT to sexual harassment, and companies can even request a game to be made for their own training purposes.

Here are some other fun facts about Nintendo’s Mario, one of the most famous video game characters ever: he was originally called jumpman, appearing in Donkey Kong in 1981. Since then he has appeared in over 200 video games so far. In addition to games, Mario has starred in two TV series, at least one movie, and its theme song has been the source of a number of guitar and symphony renditions, and there has even been one rock opera composed about him!!

Check it out on youtube, by Jonathan Mann, I kid you not.

Anyway, regardless of games, shows or rock operas, Mario is certainly a hero of mine.