Book Notes: How Nintendo Conquered America

Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America is one of my five favorite books of the year.  Jeff Ryan writes an
interesting and informative book that I think you should read.  Here are a few of my notes:
  • “Explorers become explorers precisely because they have a streak of unsociability and a need to remove themselves at regular intervals as far as possible from their fellow men.” – Royal Geographical Society, about 100 years ago.  (Note:  This reminded me of church planters.)
  • Super Mario is the dominant video game franchise, selling more than Halo, Tomb Raider, Guitar Hero, Resident Evi and Madden combined.  There are more than 200 Mario game titles and there are more Gameboys in the world than there are people in Mexico. (Note: I think Angry Birds just passed Mario.)
  • Mario is a one-size fits all hero, modeled after a real person named Mario Segale.  An Asian invention with a European nam in an American setting.
  • Nintendo was a six-person startup.  Miyamoto was inspired by the story of Popeye – defeat the villain to save the girl.
  • Radar Scope was an early Nintendo game, and had it been more successful, Donkey Kong probably wound’t have been developed.  At the time, there were a ton of shooter and maze games, but there weren’t any ape-throwing monkey games.
  • Programmers developed a “glitch” in the game Joust – when the stork moved off the left side of the screen, it appeared on the right side of the screen.  “It’s not a bug…it’s a feature.”
  • Video game controllers were designed with fewer buttons to force developers to create easy to play games.
  • Nemawashi – a Japanese gardening term for digging around the roots of a to-be transplanted tree.  Businesses need to quietly lay the correct groundwork for success.
  • In the early days, Mario appeared as side characters in a lot o video games.  In order to make him an icon, he needed a constant story and a world of his own.  Mario became a character in a story, and the video game wasn’t a simulation, it was a world.  When Super Mario Brothers was released, 1 in 6 Americans bought a copy.
  • Mario isn’t about fighting turtles, it’s about “flow” – the feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment while engaged in an activity.  It’s a sweet spot when something isn’t too hard and isn’t too easy.
  • Many of the world’s Wii consoles are made at a single Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, a plant that employs 350,000 workers. (Note:  I had no idea…I’m going to learn more about this.)