Sound of Ebb: Super Mario Bros.

Name: Tiffany W.
Location: Canada (currently, Oxford, UK)


1) Super Mario Bros. Starman Theme

The first selection is the Super Mario Bros. Starman Theme. For those unfamiliar with this game, whenever the main video game character, Mario, catches a star, he becomes super energized for a period of about one minute where he flashes multi-colours and is invincible – able to defeat any enemy in his path. However, this is only short lived invincibility and he eventually returns to normal.

This is the sound of pre-recession expresses feelings of invincibility – the fun-hyperkinetic pace without knowledge that it would soon end. Many of us, especially those of the age who grew up playing the original Super Mario Bros. video games felt as if our childhood times of properity and economic security provided by our families would continue into our adulthood. The linear progression of working hard in school, endless extracurricular activities (swimming, math, piano/violin lessons), getting a post-secondary school degree in whatever we loved to do were meant to make us ‘well-rounded’ individuals capable of making our individual dreams come true. Now we’re back to reality.

2) Super Mario Bros. Game Over Theme

The second selection is the Super Mario Bros. Game Over Theme. Even if Mario has captured a star to become invicible, he can fall into a hole – you are then prompted by the game console to try again or quit the game entirely and it’s game over.

This is the sound of the recession. Sweet and simple – this six second sound byte expresses that things have slowed down and we can choose to try again or admit that it’s tryly Game Over. Our feelings of invincibility is gone. As the Nintendo generation that grew up with this video game recognize nostalgically these sounds, we also realise that making childhood dreams come true is not a linear progression from being a good kid in school and learning to play the piano/soccer to having a viable and satisfying career that will support a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Not too extravagant, but reasonably comparable to our affluent upbringing capable of combining amusements with hardwork.

This theme, like the Starman theme, and the Nintendo kids, is still somewhat upbeat, compelling you to try again and keep playing. It’s of course easier to shut down the game and cry about it. But what’s the point? There’s already too much bleakness and not enough optimism about the recession even when history (and basic economics) has proven developed economies to recover eventually. No matter how long that takes – that is the pattern.

So, that’s what we have to do: try again even if the economic, pundits, journalists and academics continue to tell us that it’s game over.

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Filed under Canada, Sound of Ebb

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