Super Mario and Transmedia Storytelling

According to Janet Murray, “the pleasure for the audience is in savoring the variations” (Murray), equating the purpose of transmedia storytelling to engaging audiences across a wide range of media formats. When thinking of a series that has successfully transcended multiple platforms, Super Mario becomes a prime example. Spanning decades, Super Mario and its cast of characters paved the way for not only in-home video game technology but also film, television, and novelties such as toys and comics. In May of 1983, the creators of Nintendo finished the first Super Mario Bros. game, releasing it in conjunction with their first console, the Famicom. North America would see the first Mario video game by 1985 and the video game industry was changed forever.


The most resonant aspect of transmedia storytelling within the Super Mario Bros. franchise involves world building. Beginning with its first video game, Super Mario Bros. created one of the first immersive in-game experiences with a graphical backdrop that was unlike many other early games. Moreover, utilizing the fictional world, obstacles, and other character Mario himself encountered, the Nintendo brand was able to branch out by manufacturing toys, new video games, and especially movies. Although it is considered a filmmaking blunder, the Super Mario Bros. movie from 1993 was a monetary success with an all star cast including Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper. More significant is the fact that a full length film gave fans a way to discover the Mario world in a different medium, even if the plot line mimicked that of its video game counterparts. What has set Mario apart in the game industry is their creation of the first free-form video game in history, Super Mario World, where players were free to roam in different maps, with different directives, and even had to abide by time as the sun and moon would appear in real time, bringing about different challenges within gameplay.


Secondarily, a heavy use of migratory cues have been used to advance the franchise and market to fans. “The first that most North American gamers got to see of Super Mario Bros. 3 was in The Wizard… The film culminates in the unveiling of Super Mario Bros. 3” (Rick). Advertising campaigns have clued many into the creators’ mindset. “Nintendo’s famous launch advertisement read, “On September 30th, Dinosaurs will Fly” (Rick) is a direct ad quote used during the launching of Mario for Nintendo 64. Tipping off fans to their intention to release the new game, Mario developers had lines stretching out doors and the record was broken for most launch day sales. Lastly, Super Mario has served as what Henry Jenkins calls a “cultural attractor.” Fans can connect to Mario through its longevity and presence in American culture, specifically. Simply put, Mario is everywhere, having once been known to be more famous than Mickey Mouse. Super Mario is a staple in world media culture and has successfully pervaded nearly every aspect of the consumer market whether it be Mario movies, apparel, shows, books, and even cereal.

cereal mario book milk


Works Cited

Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p., 22 Mar. 2007. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.

Rick. “Nintendo’s Shining Star: The History of Mario.” GameCubicle, 2001. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.

Murray, Janet Horowitz. “Harbingers of the Holodeck.” Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace.  New York: Free, 1997. 53. Print.


One comment on “Super Mario and Transmedia Storytelling

  1. The first paragraph does a good job introducing Super Mario and the concept of transmedia storytelling. The post does a great job utilizing in-text citations to show the reader where you found information on the topic, and the citations, along with the elevated language of the text, make you seem like a reliable source. Sharing the title of Murray’s work early in the piece could provide necessary context for a reader unfamiliar with Murray’s work. Be sure to always define keywords, such as migratory cues to a reader who might not be familiar with the terminology used in the post—otherwise, the reader might not be able to follow your main argument. The post does a great job applying concepts from transmedia storytelling throughout, while providing analysis and highlighting the unique qualities of Super Mario’s transmedia storytelling. The last paragraph leaves the reader with a clear sense of your main points and a makes the text feel complete.

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