Contextual Essay – Super Mario Bro’s


Analytic Framework

Autoethnographies as described by writer Joan Didion are stories of/about an individual’s experience told through the lens of culture. Autoethnographies are artistic and analytic demonstrations of how we learn and shape new understandings, interpreting personal and cultural experiences. With this style of research, we use personal experience to engage ourselves, others, culture(s), politics, and social research to confront “the tension between insider and outsider perspectives, between social practice and social constraint” (Adams, TE, Holman, JS, & Ellis, C 2014)


The Development remained stagnant for a while. With outside noise, the initial trajectory and excitement of this DA flopped big time! Once development began, the playing and the actual hands-on part were easy! I could play the DS for hours. When I then transitioned into the theory, that’s where I found the hard part of the DA. It’s easy to mindlessly play without thought but when I started considering the controller as an extension of my arms and the creativity that went into the building of the different worlds, that’s where I went from consumer to explorer. This was the first time I had really felt as though I was engaging within a digital world as a character and growing as a gamer, as I was unearthing an appreciation for the elements within the game.

The Challenge:

Engage in the critical analysis of a game media text or paratext using a triangulated analytical framework and use that research to contribute to your DA

The Plan:

The original plan was to release three video essays, one on each of the three concepts below:

Three Concepts:


The Nintendo Entertainment System’s (NES) simple controller makes learning how to move Mario using the D-pad along with running and jumping by pressing A and B easy for everyone (Tavish 2018).

My experience:

I grew up playing Super Mario Bro’s, so the controller wasn’t hard to remember. However, what I did struggle with which I never did as a younger player, was my reaction time! It took a lot longer to get through the harder rounds and avoid characters like Chain Chomp, Piranha Plant, Boo, and Podoboos. This made gameplay more challenging and almost felt like it was the first time playing again.

Single and multiplayer modes

Super Mario Bro’s DS version has the option to play multiplayer, but it is limited.

Nintendo customer support had this to say about multiplayer:

  • Certain Nintendo DS games require only one player have a copy of the game to play multiplayer. Those without a copy of the game will need to download the game information from the player that has the game in their system.

My experience:

While I searched locally for a friend that had the same version of the game as I did, with no luck I made the decision to focus on the single-player mode. When it comes to this particular game I found, single-player mode was fine, time passed quickly so I’m taking that as a good indicator that the game was providing stimulation and fulfilling its need for fun. I did feel the game could be more inclusive if the game was played in multiplayer with two game consoles, however swapping the one console between me and my partner as ‘Goes’ worked well. Nintendo created a fun game that helped pass time and keep me entertained. I believe this is a successful single-player game and would function as a multiplayer game just as well.


Super Mario Bro’s does a good job of creating a story and building a world that players can escape to and follow in order to complete the game. The difficulty in Super Mario Bros gets steeper and steeper with the completion of each world. Progressing through the different themed worlds means a player has a chance to learn new skills required while also providing an imaginary escape as they move through the storyline created by Nintendo. Autoethnography share similar aspects, with the ideology of the story and the worldbuilding when applied to popular culture.

The contrast of bright flashing colours against somewhat stock colours helps create these backgrounds that grab the player’s attention. While clouds and bushes are the same texture recolouring them changes the results but at the same time, it simplifies the environment to make it less distracting. The bricks also being the same pattern brings the focus away from insignificant environmental features and highlights the attractive question-mark blocks (Tavish 2018).

My experience

I’ve always been a believer that the world of ‘Mario Bro’s’ is a vast creative world ready for exploration. Even when I first played the game when I was a green player, I was amazed at the different worlds and how they managed to create a snow planet and a dessert planet, looking forward to seeing what would be the next environment unlocked. Nintendo does this is a smart way, as it encourages and excites the player in finishing levels so that they can see what the next worlds will be. From World 3 – The island/ocean world which included underwater levels to World 7 which is based on the clouds.

World 4 – The forest world, has always been my favourite as it’s composed of plants and poisonous purple swamps. The colours and creatures in this world piqued my interest, Dorrie was a level highlight.

The outcome

The outcome is a little different from the original video essays, rather I chose to bring back the amount of work as my lack of time demanded it. I release 3 short podcast audio recaps. I actually quite enjoyed the process of talking about my experience, choosing to focus on the audio element. Helped take the pressure of adding visuals off and allowed me to enjoy the process rather than produce a poorly edited video with minimal visuals if any.

Podcasts Below:


Hickups are inevitable in the ideation, creation, and outcome of a project/product. Like all, I experienced a couple that put a setback on the actual artifact, including missing the DS charger, time management, and locating the box the DS had been packed away in for all those years.

When I first pitched the idea, I knew the box it was packed away in… so I thought. Excitedly I opened the box and to my dismay, no DS. How! oh wait I used it recently, must be in my draw. Nope. Ok, so where is this silly thing! *Ringing Mum* “Do you know where my old DS is?” – It’s in the box. Surely not, so back to the first place we searched, maybe look under some things? Well, would you believe my darling Mother put it back in its case, which I never did so why would I check there! With the DS located my DA could finally start.

Haha, how I was wrong. While she had put the DS back in the box, the charger did not. So where could she have thought to put this? This was not as hard to find, a quick rummage around in a few draws and bing go. Yes! we can finally charge the DS and start!


Other than verbal feedback from friends and family, this is a section that lacks substance. In future DA’s I will work harder to manage my time better and promote my digital artifact via platforms such as Twitter.

Self Reflection

A digital artifact requires a little time, something I struggled with this semester. Just before this semester, I applied for a marketing job. To my surprise, I made it through the interviewing process and received the position. This meant a lot of travel as I signed a contract to work three days until uni finished and to save money, I continued to live at home and travel from the South Coast to Mascot at the start of the week. With the added pressures of looking for housing to move, starting a new job, and juggling a casual night job to cover living expenses. I, unfortunately, did not manage my time efficiently at the start and let my digital artifact suffer that this expense. In saying that, I still manage to get out of the subject what I feel is a necessary addition to my education regarding online forums, platforms, technologies, research, and analysis.


One thought on “Contextual Essay – Super Mario Bro’s

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s