Mario Teaches Typing
In an attempt to prepare my daughter, Mae, for the inevitable soul-crushing derision that is the American public school system, I thought it prudent to begin teaching her some basic keyboarding skills. I remember one of my go to keyboard practice games as a kid was Typing of the Dead and thought…yea maybe not appropriate for a 4 year old. After some more searching and a few rounds of Typer Shark (look it up, it’s awesome), I had put the keyboarding lessons on hold for a bit. Recently, while listening to the fantastic inaugural episode of The Hall Way I was reminded of the massive library of MS-DOS games that are now available to be streamed in your browser for free (thanks, Tom). Hidden within the library of Sim games, 8 bit Strip Poker variants, and Street Fighter ports was a somewhat obscure Mario title that ended up being pretty fun and felt like a real way to introduce typing concepts like finger placement. Mario doesn’t venture away from Nintendo consoles often, but we should all be excited that he did for Mario Teaches Typing.
Mario Teaches Typing is brightly animated and features some familiar Mario music. The game is presented in a similar fashion to standard Mario games, the main difference being that in order to move across the screen, certain letters need to be pressed. The goal is to complete as many of the key strokes as you can within the two minute time limit. At the end of each round, Mario will show you your accuracy and WPM. I have no idea how this game calculates WPM but it is so far from any other method of measurement I have seen..7 WPM? Come on Mario! I type faster than that! (closer to 60wpm, just checked). Words per minute don’t really matter to a 4 year old just becoming familiar with a keyboard, but I thought it odd all the same. One other minor issue I had noticed was that as Mae was typing she was being asked to hit a semi-colon. I never paid much attention to grammar lessons in school (as my wife and Tom can attest) and it could be that the game was designed for slightly older hands than Mae’s but I thought this an odd request for any kid within even a few years of Mae’s age.
Overall, we enjoyed our time with Mario Teaches Typing. After a little while, my wife got in on the action and it turned into a little competition. My wife led the board with WPM but Mae had everyone beat as far as accuracy is concerned. I guess I get one of those “Hey, at least you tried?” prizes. This seems like a great way to help familiarize Mae with the keyboard while helping her practice letter recognition. If you have not yet checked out all the games available over at the Internet Archive, I suggest you do, you can relive some childhood memories and maybe stumble upon some random stuff you didn’t realize existed.
I feel like I should wrap this up with something clever.