Distant galaxies, colorful fairy tale worlds or dark horror scenarios – video games offer us places far from our reality. The possibility of escaping one’s life for a few levels and taking on new roles in games is a form of escapism that perhaps no other medium can create so effectively. But no matter whether I’m jumping through the Mushroom Kingdom or scoring goals in the Allianz Arena, one venue usually remains the same: my living room.
Actually, I’m not one of those people who have to build some kind of gaming shrine in their home. My consoles are hidden behind a cupboard door, most of the games are now only saved on the hard drive and even the somehow decorative Amiibo figures were banished to a drawer a few months ago. And yet, less gaming-affine visitors are often surprised about the setting of my gaming adventures. The TV is a bit bigger than necessary, there’s a gamepad next to the remote control, and the furniture is arranged in such a way that nothing stands in the way of an impressive gaming experience – even if you have to spread yourself around the room a bit awkwardly when meeting friends.
But I wasn’t really aware of this until now. While my living room used to be a kind of active-passive place where I played physically, but also escaped from it mentally, this has now changed with Mario Kart Live Home Circuit. The mixed reality Mario Kart lets me build tracks between the couch and the drawers, which I then play on the switch. The effect is amazing: Somehow my existence is multiplied. While I play on the sofa and chase the koopalings around the circuit, my legs suddenly appear on the switch screen as dangerous obstacles. A collision with myself actually irritates me twice. In the game I lose my position, in reality a toy kart hits my leg. Ouch! Especially in the first rounds with Mario Kart Live such situations surprised and overwhelmed me several times. My brain hardly seems capable of harmonizing the game and the real events in my living room. And when Kamek mirrors the room as well, I completely lose my orientation!
So far my living room has been a quiet place. The action took place on the screen, and although I was the protagonist, somehow I was just a spectator, immersed in a world at the same time and yet disconnected from it. Mario Kart Live tears down this barrier and takes me on the track. It’s still not the best game in the Mario Kart series, but it’s a game I won’t forget – and it’s a game that has turned my living room into the stage for a unique gaming experience.
With Mario Kart Live Home Circuit, Nintendo not only surprisingly pulled a new part of the Mario Kart series out of the hat in the fall of 2020, but in collaboration with developer Velan Studios created a mixed reality experience that turns every room into a race track.
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