Super Mario (un)making: towards the preservation of digital play practices

Manning, J.R (2024) Super Mario (un)making: towards the preservation of digital play practices. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

Repository Terms Apply.

Download (802kB) | Preview


This thesis puts forward an approach to the preservation of videogames through a singular case study of Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker (SMM) released exclusively for the Nintendo Wii U console in September 2015. Videogames are a significant part of our culture and our everyday lives. As with other popular cultural forms, there is an urgent need to think about how videogames are being remembered, documented and preserved. Yet herein lies the problem. For how does one preserve a practice? This thesis argues that attempts to preserve videogames as playable objects are, conversely, further contributing to their effacement. Videogame preservation appears to fixate on the technical object. Rather than attempt to approach SMM as a singular identifiable entity, this thesis considers videogames as discursive practices and/as sociotechnical assemblages. Its proposed method of study is to trace the contours of videogame play through the cultural records produced by those who play them. Its explicative method utilises the medium of video. Through tracing the multiple trajectories of SMM play, this study moves to highlight how dominant play styles (and, to this end, dominant players) shape our cultural memory. Whilst there is no “right” way to play SMM, hegemonic discourses influence what kind of play is valorised and consequently, whose histories of play are likely to remain.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

This thesis is comprised of a text-based component attached to this repository record and a series of four video presentations that are accessible via the link below.

Keywords: videogames, videogame preservation, videogame play, play styles, Super Mario Maker, Nintendo,
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
Identification Number:
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2024 12:30
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2024 12:31
URI / Page ID:
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)