Gender in Videogames: Mario

In Galloway’s novel, “Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture,” an important role in videogames is not only the machine, but the operator. Differing from the art of literature and film, you are able to perform actively by controlling certain outcomes in the game such as pressing pause and collecting points, ect. In the essay I have collected by Sharon Sherman called, “Perils of the Princess: Gender and Genre in Video Games,” a significant topic deals with the action of the male protagonist, Mario, saving the princess in “Super Mario.” The player is competing to defeat the villain in order to rescue the damsel in distress and win over her love. Sherman notes her belief that industries such as Disney and Nintendo recreate storylines that incorporate influences of their own childhood. For instance, many significant works such as Beowulf and even the Odyssey have heroic male characters that enter into a world of adventure in order to save the day. In Beowulf, Grendel and his mother are monsters who become a threat to the kingdom and Mead Hall. Beowulf steps up to defeat these monsters and dies a hero. Meanwhile, the women in this story do not have very important roles, sometimes working as “peaceweavers,” who are women married off by their families to keep the peace with a certain other family. In many other texts, the female does not have a significant role other than performing tasks around the house and taking care of the children. This has become a main concept in the game, as the Original Donkey Kong, Mario Brothers, and even Super Mario, have the protagonist, Mario, rescuing the princess. The player is faced with the goals of powering up by finding the mushrooms and coins, and also defeat enemies (such as the Turtle tribe) placed in his path to stop him from finding the princess.
I believe this article is important to recognize in researching gender in videogames. The percentage of female gamers has increased as technology has become more popular. It has to do with games and the culture portrayed within the themes. As more and more games are being released, designers are incorporating different elements of cultures and aspects of society that are relatable to both genders. In the Washington Post article, they mention how most of the buyers in the early 1990’s to the early 2000’s were males. The market only concerns themselves in the number of sales. With less females, they had less reason to concentrate on the needs of female gamers. Now that technology is constantly changing and becoming a major theme in society, this gives the market a stronger sales increase with more and more females joining the gaming world.

This is the article :
Perils of the Princess: Gender and Genre in Video Games


3 thoughts on “Gender in Videogames: Mario”

  1. You seem to be in a very good position for starting your paper; the concept is interesting and you have reputable sources to back up your research.

    As you are writing, I would suggest talking about what is being done in order to accomodate the growing number of female gamers and your opinion on what will happen in the future. Many essays dealing with current issues provide extensive data on what is happening in the moment and how it is different from the past, but not all project how these developments will affect the future. I think that an informed opinion on what the gaming atmosphere will be like in the near (or far off) future will take your paper from great to excellent.

  2. Your topic is interesting and I really like your example of Mario games to support it. If I could make a suggestion, and perhaps you’ve already thought of this, but maybe take a look at the progression of Mario games and see how the gender role changes (if you think at all). Something I’d be interested in is seeing if the role of women in the game grows with time. I have my suspicions that it does as more characters are introduced into the franchise, but at the same time the classic scenario of saving the princess from the villain is what the game is founded on. It would be interesting if they released a game similar to that of “Luigi’s Mansion” where Mario becomes the damsel in distress, but instead of Luigi, his brother, saving him from the villain it would be Princess Peach. If a game like that did get released, do you think it would be as popular as the other games? And do you think its popularity would be dependent on the actual gameplay or the characters used? Anyway, those are just some things I thought of after reading your post. Good luck with your paper!

  3. Thank you for the advice, I had not considered that. “Luigi’s Mansion” is a very good example, and Princess Peach even makes her own appearance in “Super Smash Bros” to fight against males in which she can finally be the hero. I appreciate the commentary!

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