Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fermi Contest II


The rules are the same as the first contest. You can win a free copy of How Many Licks?. Here's how it works. I’m posting a Fermi question below. To enter, estimate an answer and send it to “aaron at aaronsantos period com.” If your answer is closest to mine, I'll mail you a free signed copy of How Many Licks?.* Submit your entry on or before March 31, 2010. Don't worry…I won't spam you or share your email with any third parties. Here’s the question:

Mario has appeared in over 200 video games as Nintendo’s main mascot. He has starred in TV shows, comic books, and feature films, but anyone who’s played one of his games knows it’s not all fun and games for the lovable plumber. He is constantly falling down bottomless pits, getting eaten by giant mutant mushrooms, and otherwise killing himself all while trying to save a princess who is apparently missing the part of the brain that allows one to avoid getting kidnapped. With that in mind, your estimation question is this: “How many times has Mario died in all of the videogames ever played?”

*NOTE: I make no pretenses that my answer is correct or even close. Your answer may very well be a better estimate than mine. In fact, your estimate may even be exactly right and you still may not win the contest if somebody else's answer is closer to mine. Sorry about that. This is the best way I could come up with to pick a winner and I'm not changing it now. Like any good game, there's an element of luck required even if you do have great skill. With that disclaimer out of the way, good luck and happy calculatings!

14 comments:

  1. I suspect that there have been more Mario deaths than there have been human deaths...ever. Poor guy!

    Are we allowed to use Nintendo sales data, or would that be cheating? It seems that part of the challenge is to estimate how many games were sold.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Looking up sales data is fine. When you're looking for an answer, you should use whatever tools you have available. Plus, there's not really a way for me to police who's looking up what.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Do we count deaths in Super Mario Bros 2 (which is a dream.. and thus not real deaths) and Super Mario Bros 3 (which appears to be a play, and thus again not real deaths)? Or for that matter, Super Mario 64, which appears to be a movie shoot, and thus any deaths might be considered stunts?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would count all three of those examples. Be careful though, because there are games where Mario does not die. For example, he never dies as the ref in Punch Out, nor does he die Dr. Mario.

    ReplyDelete
  6. But then you have games like Super Smash Brothers where Mario has probably died more times than all of his other games combined.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, I'm just going to throw out a random astronomical number without giving it any thought whatsoever: 975 billion.

    ReplyDelete
  8. OK, so based on this page ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_video_games ), I would estimate the number of games sold including Mario around 200 millions, which makes on average around 1 million of copies per game, does not seem to be a bad number.
    So, now, how many lives do you need ? A Mario game typically has between 50 and 100 worlds/stars, based on my own experience of Mario, I need a couple of lives to end a world or get a star (let us say 5, including possible replays, new Marios are typically very easy and require less, but I have bad memories of old Marios), so let us say you need 500 1-up to play a game. That makes Mario die around 100 billion times.

    ReplyDelete
  9. According to this article 10^27 will soon be 'Hella Big', so I'm going with that!

    (http://bit.ly/bXatwl)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow! First off, thanks for all the comments. I'm glad to see people getting into this. Second, to make things easy for me, if you want to be considered for the contest, please email me your answers so I have them all in one spot. Feel free to leave more comments and estimations here, but I'm only counting the ones in my Inbox. Thanks for entering and good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I sent an elaborate e-mail with my reasoning, but I'm going to go with 3 trillion.

    I have a feeling the "correct" answer is hovering somewhere around 1 trillion though.

    ReplyDelete