Mario Kart is an ideal entry level game for players of all ages. Vanta Leagues offers support for schools and students looking to join a team.Mario Kart balances simplicity and competition making it the ideal game for children interested in esports or adults looking for a fun experience the whole family can participate in.
Mario Kart turns 30 years old this year. Despite its age, the classic Nintendo title still dominates the market (and hearts) of players across the globe. The most recent iteration of the game, Mario Kart 8 (released in 2014), is still the best-selling racing game in US history, according to IGN.
How does a decades-old game maintain a large audience across ages and cultures? We’ll break down Mario Kart’s concept, gameplay mechanics, and its particular appeal to children and youth esports.
Yes, Mario is still iconic
In short, Mario Kart is Mario (and his cast of character friends) racing karts on wacky tracks. In order to understand the game, let’s take a look at its namesake.
Let’s be honest, Mario is the unofficial mascot of all video games. He is one of the most recognizable video game characters of all time. His blue and red outfit, joyful attitude, trademark hat, and heroic tendencies have been imprinted into our public consciousness since the mid-1980s with the release of Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Trust us, we’d love to chronicle the entire pop-culture history of our favorite virtual plumber, but, for everyone’s sake, we’ll stick to answering why Mario is still so popular.
Mario is not a complicated character. In fact, he rarely, if ever, talks. This made him a character that could translate across languages and ages. If you’re six years old and don’t have a long attention span for reading? No problem, you can still understand Mario and his motivations. And, those motivations were very simple: get to the end of the level.
Nintendo games, particularly those in the Mario franchise, are made with player ease in mind. Super Mario Bros hit the sweet spot of challenge and simplicity. It is very easy to learn but slowly becomes challenging within the borders of a player’s learning. That way, you feel like you’re making progress without becoming overwhelmed by each new level.
This same challenge and simplicity balance was applied to Mario Kart.
As mentioned, Mario Kart is now on its eighth iteration, but, it maintains a core formula that nearly anyone can learn: press a button to go forward, steer, and throw some items to gain an advantage over your competition.
Over the decades, the game looks better visually, of course. It has new items, characters, tracks, and even songs. But, it is, in essence, the same game from thirty years ago. This makes it easy for parents to play with children. Parents feel nostalgic and kids can discover a new world with easy-to-use controls.
This also makes it a great title for competition. While not an official full-time pro esports game yet, the game can be played with friends and classmates easily. As they gain skills, so do their rivals. Should players want to raise the stakes, some Mario Kart tournaments do exist. They can go from beginner level to professional with very few adjustments to the game itself. The kart drives as well as you can drive it.
This also makes the game highly coachable. As advanced Mario Kart players will tell you, there are always secret paths on tracks. You can take these to gain an edge over your rivals. The way you hold or use your items (like bananas that make your rivals spin out) can be very strategic (like leaving it right before the finish line when you’re in first place and second place is on your tail).
A game for generations (and the classroom)
Mario Kart has already proven the test of time. Will it continue to wow generations of games for years to come? We think so. Mario Kart is one of those games you keep coming back to as an adult. It is easy, fun, and social.
If you want to become a professional game, it teaches you the spirit of competition without overwhelming you with unnecessary challenges.
Vanta offers support for schools interested in creating their own Mario Kart team. It is an ideal way for students to play together in an after-school club or as an extension of an esports program. With its ease and no reliance on full-sized PCs to play, we recommend Mario Kart teams particularly for schools interested in taking their first steps into organized video game play across ages.