When the video game Super Mario Bros. was released in 1985 by Nintendo, little did we know it would become a global phenomenon, selling over 40 million copies and making it the best-selling video game of the 1980’s and within the top 10 of all times. But, beyond just its commercial success, Super Mario Bros. has become a symbol of innovation and digital transformation in the gaming industry.

The game’s protagonist, Mario, is a plumber who embarks on a journey to save Princess Toadstool from the evil Bowser. The game was a huge departure from the traditional arcade games of the time, as it allowed players to navigate a fully-realized world, complete with obstacles, enemies, and power-ups. This innovation in game design set the stage for the future of video gaming and inspired countless imitators.

The success of Super Mario Bros. can be attributed to its use of cutting-edge technology at the time. The game was one of the first to feature a scrolling screen, which allowed players to explore a vast world, rather than being confined to a single screen. Additionally, the game’s use of colorful graphics and an unforgettable soundtrack further enhanced the player’s experience.

But the true secret to Super Mario Bros.’ success was its innovative game design. The game introduced a number of new elements to the world of video gaming, such as secret levels, hidden items, and non-linear gameplay. These innovative features not only kept players engaged but also helped to set the standard for future games in the genre.

As the video game industry has evolved, so too has Super Mario Bros. The franchise has been reinvented numerous times, with new games and updated graphics. And, as technology continues to advance, so too does the potential for innovation in the world of video gaming.

So, what can the success of Super Mario Bros. teach us about transformation and innovation efforts within the federal government?

Here are some actionable takeaways:

  • Embrace innovation: Super Mario Bros. was a departure from traditional arcade games, and its innovative design and technology set it apart. The federal government should also embrace innovation and take calculated risks to drive progress and improve citizen services. One way to begin this journey is to get involved with the Innovation Adoption Community of Practice (GSA COI) or by leveraging prize competitions and crowdsourcing opportunities on www.Challenge.Gov (GSA), a hub for innovation competitions across the U.S. federal government.
  • Utilize technology to enhance the user experience: The game’s use of cutting-edge technology, such as scrolling screens and colorful graphics, enhanced the player’s experience. The federal government should also utilize technology to improve the user experience (McKinsey) and make accessing government services more efficient and user-friendly.
  • Focus on design and usability: Super Mario Bros.’ innovative game design, including secret levels, hidden items, and non-linear gameplay, kept players engaged. The federal government should also focus on design and usability ( to improve citizen engagement with government services and programs.
  • Continuously improve and evolve: The franchise has been reinvented numerous times, and technology continues to advance, allowing for continued innovation. The federal government should also continuously improve and evolve (McKinsey) to stay ahead of the curve and better serve citizens.

Super Mario Bros. can serve as a model for innovation and digital transformation in any industry, including the federal government. By embracing innovation, utilizing technology, focusing on design, and continuously improving, the federal government can better serve citizens and drive progress.


ROAM FEDERAL is a veteran-owned small business (CA certified small (micro)) headquartered in Carlsbad, CA providing consulting & advisory services worldwide. Our team delivers integrated strategy, digital and domain expertise, and applies real-world experience and insights gained from supporting clients and organizations across the Federal Government.