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Author Salman Rushdie used video games as escapism while hiding from the Iranian government

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new super mario bros 2
new super mario bros 2

Noted author Salman Rushdie had to spend much of the 1990s in hiding after the spiritual leader of Iran issued a fatwā calling for his death due to perceived blasphemies against Islam in his novel The Satanic Verses. Through Rushdie has since returned to living a relatively normal life, he has just released a memoir entitled Joseph Anton detailing his time in hiding which mentions the fact that he turned to video games to escape the brutal reality of his condition. As detailed by The Millions, Rushdie found delight in playing Super Mario World, writing (in the third person) that he "had grown fond of Mario the plumber and his brother Luigi and sometimes Super Mario World felt like a happy alternative to the one he lived in the rest of the time."

While it seems gaming only warranted a few brief mentions in his memoir, The Millions ties a link between his time playing Mario and two children's novels he later write for his own kids. In particular, Luka and the Fire of Life contains a main character "Super Luka" who is given 999 lives and has to pass through a number of "levels" to steal the fire of life and use it to wake his father, who sleeps in a coma. Super Luka can punch a gold ball at the end of every level to "save" his advances — and the ball responds with a loud, satisfying "ping." The Millions goes on to detail Rushdie's ongoing thoughts on gaming, including how the non-linear narrative is of particular interest to the author. " I think that really interests me as a storyteller," he said, "to tell the story sideways.