November 16, 2020

9 Best Lines from Mark Rober’s Super Mario Effect Tedx Talk

Sam Caucci

Why do games make learning stick?

Emerging cognitive science research continues to prove that games are an effective tool for learning because every game requires some form of struggle, and learning only works through struggle. When we’re in the process of learning something new, we have to go through a stage of trial and error and be met with positive affirmations until we finally reach that ‘aha’ moment.

So, why does struggle often lead us to giving up rather than growing and improving?

As Mark Rober explains in his renown Tedx Talk “The Super Mario Effect,” successful learning depends on how we frame it. Mark, a former NASA engineer and current YouTube star, uses the game Super Mario Brothers to illustrate his point.

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Think about playing a video game with your friends: You don’t simply give up and feel ashamed the first time you stumble or lose a life. Video games have the opposite effect, where players are motivated to try again and again when they ‘fail.’

If your friend beats you at a round of Mario Kart, you don’t admit defeat on the first go and hang your head in shame. You challenge them to another game. You remember where you messed up the last time so that you don’t make the same mistake again. And because of this mentality, you improve every time you play.

So why should learning be any different?

In his Tedx Talk, Mark lets us in on a little secret called “life gamification,” which helps us to reframe all of the challenges and failures in our life into obstacles we can overcome, just like in a game.

Here are nine of the best lines from Mark’s Tedx Talk, which has been viewed by over 5.8 million people, on how we can trick our brains into thinking about all forms of learning in the same way we think about a game.

  1. “The trick to learning more and having more success is finding the right way to frame the learning process.”
  2. “What if you just framed the learning process in such a way that you didn’t concern yourself with failure? How much more successful could you be? How much more could you learn?”
  3. “The focus and obsession is about beating the game, not about how dumb you might look. And as a direct result of that attitude—of learning from but not being focused on the failures—we got really good and we learned a ton in a really short amount of time.”
  4. “This is what I call The Super Mario Effect: Focusing on the princess and not the pits, to stick with a task and learn more.”
  5. “When you frame a challenge or a learning process in the way I’m describing, you actually want to do it. It feels natural to ignore the failures and try again in the same way a toddler will want to get up and try to walk again or in the same way you want to keep playing Super Mario Brothers.”
  6. “I really believe if you reframe the challenges it will make all the difference. My approach is to sort of trick you into learning something through something cool.”
  7. “By reframing the learning process, the fear of failure is often taken off the table and learning comes more naturally.”
  8. “By shifting your focus to the princess and treating your life’s challenges like video games, you can trick your brain and actually learn more and see more success.”
  9. “Failing and failing and failing and eventually succeeding.”
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Mark’s Tedx Talk is an important addition to the growing body of research on why games are such an effective tool for learning and retaining information over the long-term. If you’re interested in delving deeper into this wave of emerging science, you can read our interview with Peter C. Brown, author of the bestselling book “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.” We also had Peter as a guest on our Bring It In podcast series.

So, what was 1Huddle’s main takeaway from Mark’s talk?

You can learn anything through a game because games take the fear of failure off the table and ‘trick’ our brains into trying and failing until we finally succeed. When we shift our focus to the end goal, we can celebrate our successes rather than agonizing over our failures.

So if you’re ready to trick your team into learning something by doing something cool, you can check out 1Huddle’s new game shop with hundreds of games across 16 unique skill areas. And if you have content that you want added to our on-demand game marketplace, you can join our Partner Program.

Sam Caucci, Founder & CEO at 1Huddle

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