’Super Mario Bros.’ Gets New Life Thanks To Speedrunners Seeking To Finish The Game As Quickly As Humanly Possible

Challengers will often tally up tens of thousands of attempts to shave precious seconds off their completion times.

With so much advancement in video games over the past 30 years, it’s understandable why most gamers prefer not to look backwards at obsolete consoles and games. But for a subset of gamers, known as “speedrunners,” the older a game is, the more time it affords them to hone their skills to beat the game in as little time as possible.

Take, for instance, the game that’s served as the de facto crown jewel for speedrunners: Super Mario Bros. Not only does it occupy a place in the pantheon of video game history, but it also serves as the perfect vehicle for speedrunning efforts. While many games now offer expansive worlds that allow gamers to veer off the beaten path to pursue various missions and side games, Super Mario Bros. is nothing but the beaten path. Meaning that scores and completion times can be compared in an apples-to-apples fashion. To see exactly how these times stack up for most every video game ever created, visit the obsession’s hallf of fame at Speed Run.

As clear-cut as Super Mario Bros. is in its objectives – beat the boss, Bowser, in the last level, thereby rescuing Princess Peach and saving the day – there are techincal elements in the game’s code (“glitches”) that are still being exposed and exploited to afford speedrunners faster and faster completion times.

So while Brad Myers, known as darbian online, may hold the Super Mario Bros. speedrun record with a time of 4 minutes and 56.878 seconds, credit is due to many other parties who discovered the glitches allowing players to shave a second here or a tenth of a second there which, in aggregate, help achieve the fastest run in video game history.

Check out that run right here:

So while Myers is putting rubber to road and playing the actual games, it’s the intellect of people like Chris Milling (sockfolder) who help design the roadmap for speedrunners, using math, theory, and code study to find the fastest way from A (the start of SMB) to B (Princess Peach on the far side of Bowser).

Together, they’re building on the work of previous glitch hunters and speedrunners, and they know that their work will be one day used to break Myers’ record as well. Speaking to 538, Myers acknowledges, “Everything in my run, so many people contributed so much knowledge at various points in the game’s history. Now someone can come along and use that as their starting point.” Embodying the spirit of that statement, Myers even posts a tutorial on YouTube (below), pulling the curtain back on every move and answering the questions asked of him in the video’s comments. Such transparency is rare in a competition that hinges at least partially on proprietary information.

Knowing what to do will get you a long way in speedrunning, but it takes practice. Lots and lots and lots of practice to master the techniques necessary. Myers has amassed a staggering 22,000 recorded Super Mario Bros. sessions to get to where he is today. And, undoubtedly, inevitably, his place in the record books will be taken by another who has put in more time (perish the thought) and has even more glitch-based knowledge at their disposal.

So while most modern gamers look forward to “newer” and “next,” speedrunners and glitch hunters find, paradoxically, that the passage of time provides more opportunities to improve on perfection in their quest for the fastest time ever.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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The Planet

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

via Found Animals Foundation / Flickr

Service dogs are true blessings that provide a wide array of services for their owners based on their disability.

They can provide preventative alerts for people with epilepsy and dysautonomia. They can do small household tasks like turning lights on and off or providing stability for their owners while standing or walking.

For those with PTSD they can provide emotional support to help them in triggering situations.

However, there are many people out there who fraudulently claim their pets are service or emotional support animals. These trained animals can cause disturbances in businesses or on public transportation.

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