Sunday, March 25, 2012

Disdain for new Mario game inspires soul-searching

As a kid, I idolized all of Nintendo's Mario games. I played the original NES trilogy to death, had Mario lunch boxes, pajamas, hats, and recorded the Super Mario Bros. Super Show every afternoon. That fondness extended past Elementary school: after a short relationship with Sega, the only consoles I ever purchased were Nintendo ones, which is true even as recently as my Wii purchase a few years ago.

Even recently, I made it a point to do something I always wanted to do: finish Super Mario Bros. 3 in its entirety, no warp whistles allowed. Doing that has to be one of my greatest gaming moments, alongside finishing Final Fantasy VII with every secret unlocked and those times my sister and I played Dance Dance Revolution in the arcades.

So you'd think when I got my hands on New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii (late to the party, I know), I'd be ecstatic. A throwback to those simpler times in my life. One of the most critically acclaimed games ever made by Nintendo. Mario the way I'd once loved him.

I hated it. Every single moment of that game was agony. I tried telling myself that maybe things weren't so bad, just keep playing and you'll get around to liking it. But after 20 minutes, I dropped the controller and just stared at the TV with nothing but contempt.

It had been months since I'd played a Mario game, so I know I'm not fatigued by it. It was just so alarming to see something I loved and cherished so much as a kid turn into something that I hated with such vile contempt. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has seen their tastes evolve, but this latest chapter actually makes me sad. There's so much history to Mario and I that it almost feels like a horrible breakup (a bit melodramatic, but you get the point).

Maybe I've done everything I possibly can with Mario. Maybe it's time to move on and devote myself more fully to other genres. Maybe my next gaming system should be something other than a Nintendo one (I love my PSP, and while I really like Zelda, that's the only Nintendo first-party franchise that I truly care about).

Without sounding too high and mighty, maybe the birth of my daughter four weeks ago flipped some switch in my brain. Not sure if anyone else has had that happen to them, but given the fact that I'm grinding through Final Fantasy I in my free-time, I doubt that birth flipped much of a switch, as I still love gaming. Still, the words of St. Paul do run through my brain: when I became a man, I put aside childish things.

There are a lot of faith aspects to this that are running through my head. The main thing is the fact that I pretty much worshipped Mario as a kid to the point of idolatry. Part of the reason I bought all of those Nintendo consoles is that childhood love of Mario: If I bought something different, it was like I was crapping all over my childhood and cursing a friend (when in reality, it's just a corporate product, not a true friend). Being disgusted with a Mario game makes me look back and start thinking about other things I've put in front of God. Playing on the computer. Work. Sports. Games. If I want to keep those other things from disgusting me at some point down the road, I'd better get my priorities straightened out.

Rest in peace, childhood memories.. I'll find another Mario really soon. And this time, I won't put it on such a pedestal.


Anonymous said...

Don't feel bad. I can't really play video games anymore (as in anything other than mindless online flash games with absolutely nothing objectionable in them), because every time I do, all of the things in them that are offensive to God, that I'd overlooked my entire youth, for really stupid and selfish reasons, glare at me from the glowing screen as if they were Judas' 30 pieces of silver. After all... why do people (especially Catholics) overlook all of the gross immodesty, blasphemy, impurity, sensuality, idolatry and general glorification of evil present in almost literally every single video game (including those really super-cute MMORPGS where the art style looks like it's for sweet kindergarten girls... but in which the costumes are still immodest, pentagrams abound, and which still talk about things like... false "deities"... in the storyline... without calling them false)?

Why DO we look away from those things or tell ourselves, "aww... it's not so bad!", if not, like Judas, to prize our 30 hours of personal gratification above God? After all, if Our Lord was standing right there next to us, in person... would we really want to be caught looking at (let alone enjoying something with) all of that immodesty, impurity and blasphemy that offends Him? Oh wait... Oops!(Omnipresent.)

I really doubt that at our final judgment, "but... but... I was BORED!" ... or "But Sephiroth looked SO COOL!" ... will really fly. But all of the sudden, we WILL be fully and completely aware of our everyday betrayals of Christ, just how bad they really were, and how sickeningly easily and indifferently we made them, all of our excuses aside. Or, as Our Lord lamented to a certain Spanish nun in the 1920's, in so many words, that there was nothing man esteemed less than his Creator. The same nun, who suffered visits to hell to save souls from going there, reported that souls were falling there in numbers impossible to calculate, and said that many of them went there for sins against purity. (Oops again.)

At least Mario and Tetris didn't give us that problem. But I'm pretty sure it's written (or words to the effect), "woe to them that call good, evil, and evil good."

Tragic thing is, people don't have to put any sinful garbage in a game at all, in order to make it absolutely awesome and captivating. Common sense: Sin never makes anything better, but it does beget death (of soul at least).

"Incline not my heart to evil words: to make excuses in sins..." (-The Holy Mass)

Anonymous said...

By reading both texts, I couldn't avoid finding myself in a similar kind of feeling about gaming overall.

While we path different ways to reach that ending (the current lack of that passion we had about games), they drove us all to a similar conclusion: videogames, the way they presents today, don't engage us catholics anymore they way they used to.

For me, personally, what is making me slowing wanting to get away with videogames (while I confess this is something relatively far away to happens in it's entirely) are the today's ppl/community minds.

Everywhere you look, there are ppl in industry promoting homosexualism, relativism, liberalism, etc..

It started with the gaming news sites sites I follow like Eurogamer, IGN, Gamespot (by the way, there are a good source of gaming news we Catholics can follow??), and all of them started promoting sexual relationship between two mens as a normal thing.. Then it appeared now with some developers, like Bioware...

So, where to run? Like Ayatsuri Ningyo wrote, all of the things in them that are offensive to God can't pass away for us without be noticed.

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