Ask a Nerd Dad #2

Dear Nerd Dad,

In an age of inclusion and anti-bullying, how do I let my children enjoy the classic games of our childhood?  I don’t want them to grow up calling all reptiles evil and stomping on turtles because it was ok for Mario to do it.


Muddled in the Mushroom Kingdom

Dear M.M.K.,


Let's have a little refresher in Super Mario Bros. lore. If you recall, there are many "animals" or creatures in the Mario worlds. In the original Super Mario Bros. there are Goombas (essentially walking mushrooms), Cheep-Cheeps (flying fish), Buzzy Beetles (hard shell beetles),and Bloobers (white squids). There are also Koopas, cute turtle-like creatures that hurt Mario if he touches them in any other way besides jumping on their shell. All of these creatures are forces of the evil Bowser used to prevent Mario from rescuing his beloved Princess Peach.

What's Mario to do? I'll tell you. He's out to kick the ass of anything in his way from keeping him from his girl and sometimes that's even cute little creatures. Yes, that means curb stomping some turtles, It's not all American History X though, because let's not forget that these turtles can be useful. Mario can stomp on the shell of a Koopa and send it careening across the screen to take out other creatures standing in his way. That's simply called being resourceful.

Let's also not forget in future games there are animals that are helpful to Mario. He can obtain a frog suit to swim and a raccoon suit to fly (Raccoons don't fly though, so....). Let this serve as the primary lesson to your children: just like in real life, not all creatures in the Mario world are bad; some are even incredibly helpful. If they aren't helpful, simply curb stomp them and make them useful.


Nerd Dad Chris

Ask a Nerd Dad

Introducing Ask a Nerd Dad, a new column dedicated to asking your best nerd based fatherhood questions. I will do my best to answer each question as truthfully as possible. While I am no expert, I am a nerd father of 2 young boys. I have a ton of experience in being a nerd and a few years of fatherhood under my belt. I look forward to hearing from you. Now on to this week’s question:

Dear Chris, how do I teach my kids about the dark side, while being a responsible parent?

Not Kylo Ren

Dear Matt (Radar Technician),

Chris’ desk Darth Vadar

Chris’ desk Darth Vadar

Darth Vader is without a doubt my favorite Star Wars character. I have a Funko Pop figure of Vader on my desk. One of the earliest things my oldest son could say was “Darf Bader.” 

I absolutely grew up in awe while seeing Vader on the screen. He is powerful and terrifying. Make no mistake, he is an absolute bad ass. He’s also a deeply flawed human being who seeks redemption and forgiveness at the end of his tale. There are incredible life lessons to learn from the journey of Anakin Skywalker. As Yoda famously said, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” This could and should be on a bumper sticker. Its life lesson 101 material. 

I say embrace your love of the Dark Side, but show your kids why it ultimately cannot win. Revel in Vader’s Rebel annihilation skills, the Empire’s beautiful stark industrial design, but counter with the fact that Vader lost a wife, children, and had zero friends. You can’t go through life with everyone scared you will force choke them to death. It just doesn’t work for anyone.


Nerd Dad Chris