Gaming History Lesson


As January is eXPlore like a Pirate month here at Dice UP the Classroom, I am taking Michael Matera’s book to heart in my lessons and also incorporating many practices for Build like a Pirate next month. Something that really stood out in the book is how game based learning can be extremely engaging and powerful in creativity. A part of the book that talked about using classic games to engage a student. I pointed out last week about using Plants vs. Zombies as an example with students, but something ended up hitting me this past weekend. We had a relative visiting who is a fan of classic cartoons. Since we have Netflix streaming on our Apple TV he wanted to check out the now classic Super Mario Bros. Super Show from 1989-1990.

Those wondering and not able to search it fast enough, the show was based on the Super Mario Brothers games series at the time. Staring Louis Vincent “Captain Lou” Albano as the voice of Mario and Danny Wells as his brother, Lugi. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I was a big Nintendo player and when the show was first announced, I was ecstatic as many of my friends were at the time. Especially, with Captain Lou as Mario and with The Legend of Zelda as the Friday airing cartoon. It was great fun for a series that only aired a year before becoming Club Mario and trying to touch base with the Generation X crowd and later NBC buying the rights to continue as The Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3- Super Mario World and Captain N the Game Masters, before deciding to ditch Saturday Morning cartoons in the early 90s.

Now, many of you are wondering what this has to do with eXPlore like a Pirate. Well, one of the biggest parts of XPLAP is how gamification connects with the students. It was during the watching of an episode where they talked about family that I had to leave the room for a few moments. The Super Show was one of the last cartoon series I watched regularly with my grandparents. In the summer of 1990, my grandfather, Frank Delmont Sr. who many know got me into comic books had a heart attack and passed away that summer. My grandmother, his wife, Mary died nine months later. During the watching of The Mario Bros. Super Show, my grandparents would always make comments of parts of the game that fit in the cartoon. Since they watched me regularly play the first two Mario Brothers Games and the hours I spent on the first two Legend of Zelda games after I came home from school.

I started remembering all the times I would play my Nintendo with them watching, wonder just how I was able to master game play with my various games from Mario to Zelda. I remember my grandmother making a passing comment: “Why can’t I play Monopoly the way Ryan plays Zelda?” Then just as  I was walking into work for a Monday, I had a student playing Boggle for a learning game and mentioned they play it with their older cousin, who always makes the time to play it even though they are older. That’s what I came up with this lesson. Simply have a student write about a game that is more than a game to them. It can be digital, analog or even one that they just play with family that is made up. See what memories it brings up and how engage they are when it has a personal meaning to them. I guarantee you it will spark a student’s creativity and be key to an amazing lesson.


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