The most popular names in America over the last century are James for boys and Mary for girls, according to the Social Security Administration. How many children are named after relatives, places, or things won’t ever be known. However, there is a match between the names of children and something found today in most American households: Many video games include names that could be given to newborns, and the most common name in this category is Mario.
Mario first appeared in the video game industry as a character in “Donkey Kong,” released in 1981 by gaming giant Nintendo – one of the “big three” companies in video gaming, along with Microsoft and Sony. (Discover the best-selling Nintendo games of all time.)
Mario went on to star in the “Super Mario” series, beginning in 1985, and has been the basis of movies, books, and a nearly endless list of video game titles ever since – including almost 100 releases on gaming platforms, on computer disks, on Android and iOS devices, and on e-readers. As of last year, the “Super Mario” series had sold almost 400 million copies worldwide, bringing in $22 billion.
Is the popularity of the Mario and Super Mario brands really the reason some babies get Mario as a name? The longevity and continuing popularity of the games may have encouraged some parents to name their offspring Mario – or Luigi, another character in the series. However, both are also names frequently given in Italian or Italian-American households independent of gaming.
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