Super Mario Run’s Not-So-Super Gender Politics
Last week, after a wait of almost a decade, the world’s most popular video game series, Super Mario Bros., finally came to the world’s most popular video game machine: the iPhone. Nintendo’s Super Mario Run went immediately to the top of the App Store charts, above mainstays like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. According to one estimate, the game was downloaded 37 million times in its first three days.
上周，经过近十年的等待，世界上最受欢迎的电子游戏系列《超级马里奥兄弟》(Super Mario Bros.)终于在世界上最受欢迎的游戏平台iPhone上亮相了。任天堂(Nintendo)的《超级马里奥跑酷》很快登上应用商店排行榜首位，力压Facebook、Snapchat、Instagram和YouTube等大牌应用。据估计，该游戏在上市前三天被下载了3700万次。
Unfortunately, despite Nintendo’s history and reputation, Super Mario Run is not a family-friendly game — or at least not one my wife and I will be letting our 6-year-old daughter play. The game is rife with stale, retrograde gender stereotypes — elements that were perhaps expected in 1985, when the first Super Mario Bros. was released in the United States, but that today are just embarrassing.
Super Mario Run begins, as does almost every Super Mario title, with Princess Peach becoming a hostage who must be rescued by Mario. Just before her ritual kidnapping, Peach invites Mario to her castle and pledges to bake him a cake. Upon her rescue, she kisses Mario. The game also includes a second female character, Toadette, whose job is to wave a flag before and after a race, like a character from “Grease.”
By failing to update Super Mario for a contemporary audience, Nintendo is lagging far behind the Walt Disney Co., one of its closest American analogues. Disney’s film “Frozen” subverted and reinvigorated the fairy-tale princess movie; “The Force Awakens” gave us a female Jedi. Super Mario Run doesn’t even try.
任天堂没有为当代观众升级超级马里奥，远远落后于与自己最接近的美国对手华特迪士尼公司(Walt Disney Co.)。迪士尼影片《冰雪奇缘》(Frozen)颠覆了童话公主电影，给它注入了新的活力；《原力觉醒》(The Force Awakens)推出了一个女性绝地武士。《超级马里奥跑酷》则完全没有什么尝试。
In isolation, there’s nothing wrong with princesses or baking. My daughters love those things, too. But Super Mario Run relegates its female characters to positions of near helplessness. Peach and Toadette become playable only after you complete certain tasks, which makes the women in the game feel like prizes. (To be fair, the same is true of a few male characters.) Worse, should you then use Peach to defeat her kidnapper, Bowser, you’ll discover that neither Mario nor a kiss is waiting for her as a reward.
Shigeru Miyamoto, the designer of Super Mario Bros. — as well as Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda and other landmark games — is frequently called the Walt Disney of video games. He may have a little too much Uncle Walt in him and not enough Hayao Miyazaki, whose Studio Ghibli movies like “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Spirited Away” are filled with adventurous young heroines.
《超级马里奥兄弟》——以及《大金刚》(Donkey Kong)和《塞尔达传说》(The Legend of Zelda)等经典游戏——设计师宫本茂(Shigeru Miyamoto)常被奉为电子游戏界的华特·迪士尼。可能他可能有点太像华特大叔了，而不够像宫崎骏(Hayao Miyazaki)——后者的吉卜力工作室(Studio Ghibli)的出品有许多爱冒险的年轻女英雄，比如在《龙猫》和《千与千寻》中。
Mr. Miyamoto told Wired this month that he was more involved with the design of Super Mario Run than that of any Mario game since 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy. That means that the only two Super Mario games that include a playable female character from the start — 1988’s Super Mario Bros. 2 and 2013’s spectacular Super Mario 3D World — were games in which Mr. Miyamoto was not directly involved with the level design.
本月，宫本茂在接受《连线》(Wired)杂志采访时称，自2007年的《超级马里奥银河》(Super Mario Galaxy)之后，他对《超级马里奥酷跑》设计的参与程度多于其他马里奥游戏。那意味着，仅有的两款从开头就有可参与比赛的女性角色的超级马里奥游戏——1988年的《超级马里奥兄弟2》(Super Mario Bros. 2)和2013年壮观的《超级马里奥3D世界》(Super Mario 3D World)——宫本茂没有直接参与关卡设计。
The world would be a worse place if video game creators were judged only by whether they balanced their games with male and female protagonists. Some of 2016’s best video games, including the interactive drama Firewatch and the disturbing Mario-inspired Inside, are largely about men and boys.
Still, lots of girls and women play video games. There are more women over 30 who play video games than boys under 18 who play, according to the industry’s lobbying arm, the Entertainment Software Association. A Pew Research Center survey published last year found that almost 60 percent of girls between the ages of 13 and 17 are gamers.
不过，很多女孩和女人也玩游戏。根据行业游说机构娱乐软件协会(Entertainment Software Association)的数据，30岁以上的女性游戏玩家比18岁以下的男性玩家多。皮尤研究中心(Pew Research Center)去年发表的一项调查发现，13岁至17岁的女孩中有近60％是游戏玩家。
Seeing people like yourself depicted as heroic on TV and in movies and video games can have a powerful effect on viewers and players. The actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who was born in Pakistan, tweeted after watching “Rogue One,” the new “Star Wars” movie, that he “started tearing up” after a scene in which “people who looked like me and dressed like my people were good guys.”
在电视、电影和电子游戏中看到长得像自己的人有英勇之举，对观众和玩家会产生强烈影响。出生于巴基斯坦的演员、喜剧艺人库梅尔·南贾尼(Kumail Nanjiani)在看完《星球大战：侠盗一号》(Rogue One)后在Twitter上发文称，当看到有一幕戏里“那些长得像我、着装像我的族裔的人是好人”，他“泪流满面”。
Representation in interactive media may be even more important than it is in linear entertainment. In video games, players describe ourselves as the digital avatars we control on a screen. We say “I died,” not “he died.”
This sense of identification gives video games an enormous capacity to create empathy for other people. There are video games in which you play as the parent of a dying child, as a transgender woman beginning hormone replacement therapy, as the son of an alcoholic. But it also presents more conventional game designers with an opportunity to create games in which young girls, and not just young boys, actually become heroes themselves.
“Players describe the experience of being with one as less like talking with a person and more like inhabiting someone else’s mind,” the social scientist Sherry Turkle wrote of video games in 1984 in “The Second Self,” one year before Super Mario Bros. came to America. “In pinball you act on the ball. In Pac Man you are the mouth.”
“玩家们认为游戏体验不大像是与另一个人交谈，而更像是生活在另一个人的头脑中，”社会科学家雪莉·特克尔(Sherry Turkle)在1984年的《第二自我》(The Second Self)一书中提到电子游戏时写道。那是在《超级马里奥兄弟》登陆美国之前一年。“在弹珠游戏中，你把自己当成那个球。在吃豆人(Pac Man)游戏中，你把自己当成那张嘴。”
The knowledge that video games possess this power, that they allow us to adopt new identities and grant us new ways of seeing ourselves, is as old as Mario’s quest for his princess. Which makes it all the sadder that Mr. Miyamoto, with all his gifts, has yet to seize it.