Desegmenting a Gameworld: The Super Mario Series
Throughout game studies scholarship, the term “gameworld” has often been used to contain two notions simultaneously: the navigable virtual space of a videogame and the collection of characters, settings, and events represented by a videogame’s audiovisual output. Resisting this haphazard use, this study closely examines five videogames in the Super Mario series and presents its findings in context of two theories of gameworld: Seth Giddings’s theory of gameworld and Kristine Jørgensen’s theory of gameworld interfaces. This study employs two methods of analysis: iterative game analysis, a method that strategically utilizes the save state affordance of console emulators, and comparative game analysis, a method that uses a wide range of analytic tools across sets of other media forms and videogames. Chapter 1 offers an analysis of Super Mario World, the most salient feature of which is its interface metaphor: the world map. Chapter 2 investigates techniques used to segment gameplay, space, time, challenge, and narrative across Super Mario Bros. 1, Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. By investigating techniques of segmentation across a range of games that constitute the same gameworld, a method of analysis I am calling “desegmentation,” this study aims to make more robust the theorization of gameworld and future study of videogames.