Maybe all that time you’ve spent with Super Mario Bros. was actually good for your brain.
According to a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, playing levels of the original Mario game from way back in 1985 can actually potentially be as tough as solving very complex math problems, the Sun Sentinel reports. According to the study, “as hard as the hardest problems in the ‘complexity class’ PSPACE, meaning that it’s even more complex than the traveling-salesman problem.”
That’s mathematician and computer scientist speak for saying that solving a Mario level can be as tough as the toughest sets of problems that humans can handle without a computer’s assistance. Put another way, when you’re bouncing off goombas and avoiding piranha plants, the complexity level can get as difficult as working through a tough equation.
The study doesn’t say that any given Super Mario Bros. level is actually tougher than a “PSPACE” problem, but the components of the game—the way its levels are put together—have the capability to be that tough. “Mathematically, video games are not very different from computational models of real-world physical systems, and the tools used to prove complexity results in one could be adapted to the other,” the MIT press release says.
So the next time you’re trying to justify a video game addiction, you can claim you’re basically doing math. Just leave out the part of the sentence where you say, “theoretically.”