There’s no question that the video game industry has had huge influence on modern design. The gamers amongst us will tell you that Mario is inarguably one of the greatest video game stars of all time, rising from a simple arcade game to global mega-franchise. “IGN presents Museum of Mario” is a new website examining the 30+ year history of the world’s most famous Italian plumber, and for those of us who grew up with him, a nostalgic trip down memory lane. (Where is the minus world? How do I get there? Does it really exist at all??)
Few may remember this, but in the early 1980’s the video game industry was going bust. From 1983 to 1985 video game revenues dropped a staggering 97%, from $3.2 billion in 1983 to under $100 million in 1985. This industry recession had many analysts proclaiming the products a passing fad. But then something happened – things began turning around following the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985.
A massive difference in NES games over predecessors was the attention paid to design and gameplay – what we call UI/UX. Shigeru Miyamoto, the mastermind behind Mario, has always cited these as the two most important factors in his work. And imagine that – when you make a game both fun and visually exciting it will sell more copies. Looking back, one of the reasons that Nintendo’s 1985 release “Super Mario Bros.” was so successful was that both the gameplay and the design were revolutionary – and good. Most Mario releases have kept with this, taking advantage of new capabilities and consistently pushing technological boundaries to remain visually stunning and immersive.
So, in the 1980’s Mario saved both his beloved Princess and the industry. By the end of the decade, video game sales had recovered, growing to $5 billion, and Nintendo would enjoy a 70% market share, arguably dominating the home console market until Sony’s PlayStation began offering serious competition in 1994. By 2012, global video game revenues hit $67 billion. Nintendo – and Mario – retain a fair share of this market. But despite this staggering number, many consider the video game industry in another recession, with slumping console sales and tepid consumer response to new products.
So, the question, I suppose, is simple: Mario – the industry and the Princess are again in need of your services. Are you up to the task? Can you save both once again?
While pondering this universe-altering query, head over to the IGN site and check it out. Not only does it provide an interesting look back at Mario’s history, it shows off some of the exciting new capabilities of HTML5. If you visit, come back here and leave a comment letting us know what you think. At CommonGround Creative we’re always interested in opinions on new design and development techniques.