Life explained in a Video Game

So I recently starting playing Super Mario Brothers again after like 20 years, thanks to the new digital version. The furthest I could make it was to level 8-4 (so far), but those stupid ninjas killed me off. After repeatedly going through the levels I noticed how deep this game was. I’m so serious. Ok, so for the non-gamers out there, let’s cover some basics first:

The premise of the game is that Mario (Or Luigi, for Player 2) are trying to save the Princess. They are plumbers and so they can go in and out of the pipes, as need be. Usually that’s where they can find extra coins. You start the game with 3 lives. You can earn lives by finding the extra-life mushroom hidden somewhere, or by collecting 100 coins. You can kill most things by jumping on them (unless they have spikes) or shooting them with your fire power. From a small person, you can power up with a mushroom to become a big person, and then finally power up again to have fire power. The game is timed, and each level brings you one step closer to the princess. (I’ll forego the damsel in distress rant that I could make). The more time you have left when you jump on the flag, the more points you get.

Ok, so prepare to be wowed. It definitely caught me by surprise:

Don’t allow things to distract you from your mission

This is really the largest theme I could have learned from the game. There are so many things in life that cause us to get distracted from our goals. For the player in this game, you have the music, which is pretty consistent until you get under 100 seconds. And then it speeds up, causing you to panic and miss steps. I have literally muted the volume and noticed a difference.

Also, throughout the levels, there are stars which make you invincible for a given amount of time. It’s easy to get the star and hit everything in your way. Whenever there is a star there is probably something hiding nearby. I’ve found power-up mushrooms, extra lives, and secrets along the star path when I was not distracted by its power.

Sometimes you take a detour to go down a pipe to get some coins and that can eat up your time. Even good things can be distractions sometimes.

Don’t get ahead of yourself

A star (or money) can make people act real brand new. They start going places they normally wouldn’t and testing the limits. Eventually the star’s power runs out and you don’t even notice it coming. If you are in a bad position at that moment, you will lose a life or be downgraded.

It’s not all about speed

Rushing will cause you to make hasty decisions. Perhaps you’ll try to make that jump without really focusing on the distance. The act of refusing to stop and think becomes a habit and you start making careless mistakes. I’ve lost countless lives because I was rushing. Slow and steady wins the race.

Learn from your mistakes

You will keep dying in the game if you don’t realize what you are doing wrong. Take mental notes when something doesn’t go the way you planned and when you get back to that point, do something different. If you keep doing the same thing over and over, you will get the same results. Guranteed.

There are no shortcuts to success

As many avid gamers know, you can find Warp Zones and pass certain levels. You have to earn it though. You can’t just take the tip from a friend and go through the Warp Zone, because there are key skills that you learn at each level, that help you prepare for your final battle. Whether it’s flying fish, jumping ninjas, or swimming skeletons, you can never build skills if you try to jump to the top. A firm foundation is needed for any job or life choice to have some weight behind it.

And lastly,

Enjoy the journey

At the end of the day, this is just a game. And if you are so focused on the mundane tasks and beating the game, you won’t dig around and find the extra lives. You won’t learn that you can jump on the flying ninjas. You won’t enjoy getting there. And it’s the same with life. When our day to day overshadows the big picture, we forget to stop and smell the flowers, or to engage in a conversation with a stranger, because we are “too busy.” There are no rewinds in this journey called life; there’s not always a do-over. So just remember that you are on life number one – how will you spend it?

That’s my take away from this game. Think about how you will spend your time in 2019.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Posted in Motivational and tagged , , , , .



  1. And here I thought Super Mario Brothers was some trivial game. I now feel the need to go back and play it. I like that you extracted all of these life lessons from just a game. I especially like the idea that is illustrated in keeping time in check. Our lives are bound by time and as you indicate, if we get distracted we may miss our mission. We should have some way to remind ourselves of our missions in lives even if just a piece of paper hanging in front of the toilet 🙂

    • Thanks Taha. I was also surprised at the realization this game was so deep. Imagine what other hidden gems we have to learn everyday!

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