Textfiles.com's Jason Scott presented an engaging lecture earlier this month at Cleveland demoscene event Blockparty 3 (which he co-organize), beginning the session with an explanation of "platform studies," a growing field of study that examines the context in which games were released.

"It is extremely hard to understand software unless you understand the platform that the software came from," Scott argues. "If you have an emulator, you get a certain amount of knowledge from that game -- often it's rules, how it sort of looks -- but you miss out on other things. and you especially miss out if you don't understand the context in which that game was created."

He uses that as a jump-off point to talk about the history of the Nintendo 64 platform and to take attendees through Super Mario 64, sharing what lessons modern game designers can learn from the seminal 13-year-old game. "There’s a ton to be learned from this game, and the Mario series has really given us a lot to learn from, even if not everyone can get their heads around the idea."

He adds, "We're currently in a very interesting wave of the last five or six years towards nostalgia for these games. But I think way too many times ... we look at them merely as works of art, background dressing, or interesting nostalgic icons to point and go, 'Super Mario! Cool!' and move on without really understanding why Super Mario stayed where he is."

If you have trouble viewing the hour-long embedded video, you can also watch it or download it at the Internet Archive.