Zack, a teacher somewhere in the world (likely the US given Common Core), decided to teach his students utilizing Super Mario Odyssey back in March before COVID-19 shut everything down.
The reason that the teacher decided to do this because he thinks that Mario games have always done well at "... capturing the fun/unique qualities of various cultures without degrading into offensive stereotypes." So in Super Mario Odyssey you see borrowed cultures such as Mexico, Japan, and New York, among other places.
The lesson made students play through three of the game's levels, which included The Sand Kingdom Tostarena, the Metro Kingdom New Donk City, and the Bowser Kingdom Bowser’s Castle, all of which were inspired by real-world locations. Tostarena is inspired by Mexico, New Donk City is New York City, and Bowser's Castle is inspired by Japanese castle architecture.
The lessons included Zack asking students questions such as if they found the game was offensive at all and if they think the game was "crafted in a respectful manner". He also chose students that volunteered to play the game so as not to intimidate students that aren't gamers, although I personally have watched a four-year-old play Super Mario Odyssey fairly well on its easiest difficulty setting, so it's definitely more of a "do you want to play this" rather than a "can you play this" type of scenario.
There are lesson plans for people to look through if they ever want to use Super Mario Odyssey in their classrooms or want to find inspiration. Since Mario is known by pretty much everyone under the age of 60 worldwide, students should have a decent idea of what Mario is and be a lot more interested in a lesson as a result of that. Does that quantify into meaningful results? Possibly, but either way it's an interesting lesson.
Check out both the lesson and the blog post here.
This is a pretty cool idea, but I don't think that Super Mario Odyssey should necessarily be used in a classroom. Even Zack knows this, as he only used the game when COVID-19 was about to shut everything down. While more fun, students are there to learn, and playing video games and learning about different cultures is interesting, but not necessarily the best use of both the teacher and student's time. Overall, I like it and it's creative, but games in general are never going to have a big place in the classroom, and if they do it's going to be through games specifically designed for classrooms, not through video games like Super Mario Odyssey.
What do you think of this idea? Do you think video games have a place within a classroom? Do you think teachers should adopt VR? Let us know in the comments!