Here’s Why Mario Runs From Left To Right

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Here’s Why Mario Runs From Left To Right

A new science study may provide answers as to why Nintendo gamer favorite Mario runs from left to right. The study claims the game character was programmed to walk like that simply because players like it.

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The science of Mario

Lancaster University psychologist Dr. Peter Walker closely inspected thousands of still and animated pictures using Google Images. He found evidence of a rightward bias in motion shots. However, there was no evidence of leftward bias found on stationary images. The science study further elaborates the game could feature a left-to-right bias.

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Dr. Walker further elaborated that artistic conventions are often used to show motion of animated objects. One graphic convention note depicted items leaning forward in the movement. Another convention depicts objects moving left to right. The left-to-right bias demonstrated when designers italicise text to show a notion of motion or speed. Same method is used in Hebrew Typography as readers scan text left to right.

Dr. Walker claims it was the inspection of Hebrew italic fonts show another artistic convention for showing motion all based on the fundamental bias of what people want to see.

Nintendo holds on to the past

Mario is just one of the most popular game characters from Japanese game maker Nintendo. The company built an empire based on the SuperMario Brothers franchise which includes many game titles and licensed merchandise. Mario is a key asset to Nintendo. The game giant holds on tightly to the past, which explains why it continues to rehash updated releases of classics from Mario and Zelda.

A recent post from CNET highlights this fact. Last month, a sales report showed the Nintendo 3DS led sales away from Microsoft Xbox One and Sony Playstation 4. The success attributes to a re-released version of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. The game also happened to be one of the best selling and fastest selling games in history.

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Anna Peel is a professional writer. In the past four years, she has written for many websites including BSC Kids, Wasabi Media Group, Boomtron, and many others. She currently live in Savannah, Georgia and occasionally blogs about fashion during her free time.
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27 COMMENTS

  1. Just because you got your achievement in as$holeism and a skill up in picking nits doesn’t mean you should post them here. That should be posted on twitter. Grow a brain

  2. did anyone else find that the psychologist name just happen to be Dr. Walker?
    and the article is about which way you walk in the game?

  3. aside from the fact it was easier to program it that way ask any professional photographer how people look at an image and they will tell you most start from top left to right.

  4. it goes left to right cause its just logical. you control Mario with your left thumb and right on the D-pad was more comfortable on thumbs then left was … its really that simple, the game was designed to be completed in 1 sittings which ment a couple hours of holding the same direction on the D-pad.

  5. This is what happens when an idiot with a degree tries too hard to find something not there. First off, Super Mario Bros. was a Japanese game. Japanese text does NOT read out like English text. It’s top to bottom, right to left. The US was typically an afterthought to the Japanese in the early 80’s. The original NES games, much like most other day-one “new” consoles; games were almost entirely experimental, from content to story and designed by a handful of pioneers in the field vs. modern titles that have several hundred to a couple thousand people involved in making it. They also were not 100% optimized to squeeze every last bit out of the hardware. It would have taken more code, which equals space on the already limited cartridge to have the background run left, plus it seems it might have been deliberate to increase difficulty by making you think about which pipes to take or not take, mushrooms to get or not get, etc. Virtually all those early NES games were left to right. Some went both ways, others went up/down. Historically, most consoles’ games (quality) improved over the course of their run and were typically at the limits of the hardware by the time it was retired. Perfect example is look at Super Mario Bros. vs. Super Mario Bros. 3. Point is, to try and draw some psychological link because Mario ran left to right is beyond absurd.

  6. @moe_i_am:disqus – the comments that @treselor:disqus made were far more insightful than the doctor who created the most obvious of studies only to conclude what common sense already knew. But while we’re on the subject of picking nits, it’s hardly incessant to comment in four brief sentences on such an elaborate study…

  7. @moe_i_am:disqus

    yer dumb and didn’t even read anything I commented about. Mario cannot move though. The GAME doesn’t scroll automatically, and is player dependent. Yes I know that once you leave the focus screen that you cannot go backwards as I stated earlier(unless its Mario 2 or higher).

    But to say that Mario only moves from Left to Right is just plain stupid, Since he doesn’t move at all, the player controls him, if I handed a controller to my 5 year old niece she would jump down a hole like 5 times trying to get over the hole, is that ONLY Left to Right direction?

  8. The explanation is simple. The coordinate system dictates that the x axis increments to the right on the screen. Thinking in terms of programming a linear level, the movement in the direction of increasing value is somewhat simpler (though certainly does not prohibit designing a game moving to the left).

  9. Not only that, Japanese also read their comic panels from right to left, and page 1 of their books is actually what we would consider to be the last page. For those who want an example, go to your local Barnes & Nobles (if you have one!) and look in their Japanese manga section. Even though the books are translated in English, English manga aficionados prefer the right-to-left approach, so publishers print the books in Japanese right-to-left style. It’s a very surreal experience reading a Japanese book.

  10. your skill at picking nits has gone up! (299/300)

    The Mario GAME scrolls left to right. you cannot go back the way you came once that part has left the screen.

    your incessant, inane, ego-driven comment shows you’ve nothing more to add to this world than CO2.

  11. ehhh Mario doesn’t run from left to right. He runs in the direction you control him, thus the reason he runs from left to right. If others play the game they may stop, run to the left, explore a little bit, etc.

    Mario Bros. had both Mario and Luigi running left and right and right and left.

    Super Mario Bros. Mario starts on the left side, but it is up to the player to determine his route, though the finish line is always on the right side of the map, he can still go left (as long as it is in the same screen)

    Super Mario Bros. 2 (US) was the first Mario game to introduce Mario and friends to a camera that actually followed the player left or right, up, down.

  12. Japanese reads right to left. Sometimes Chinese reads up to down. I m sure there is a language out there that reads down to up.

  13. I always thought its because we read/write left to right? Oddly enough is there any human written language that reads right to left? If not there must be something in our brains that wire us that way.

  14. because it was the cheapest way to program back then. keep in mind to import and export things in and out of countries was expensive back then. now we got FREE trade and the internet.

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