Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros.

The kind of impact Mario has made on our life, you ask? Well, that could be easily deduced from the fact that every time the Mario tune turns up, you can't hold yourself back from humming it. But there's more to the super Italian plumber than meets the eye, and more than the usual catchy tune.

Popular side-scrolling games from the 80s and 90s, including Mario, have always preferred running left to right, and there have been times when we stopped and asked ourselves: "why is this guy not running the other way around?" Now, it seems like the reason has finally been found. 

As it turns out, Mario always skips from left to right because he was programmed to run forever that way; that's the way gamers' brains have developed to the notion of side-scrollers in the business. According to Lancaster University psychologist Peter Walker, our brains vastly prefer left to right motion.

"What artistic conventions are used to convey the motion of animate and inanimate items in still images, such as drawings and photographs?" Walker said in a press release.

"One graphic convention involves depicting items leaning forward into their movement, with greater leaning conveying greater speed. Another convention, revealed in the present study, involves depicting items moving from left to right," he added.

The release said how this bias does not apply to people or objects which are stationary. "Whereas a rightward bias is found for photographs of animate and inanimate items in motion (more so the faster is the motion being conveyed), either no bias or a leftward bias is found for the same items in static pose. This could indicate a fundamental left-to-right bias for visual motion."

It adds that this left-to-right bias is also observed when designers italicize text to convey notions of motion and speed, apart from applied typography in Hebrew where the reader's eyes scan from right-to-left.

The conclusion, talking about how our brains vastly prefer left to right motion, based on Walker's analysis of thousands of images of people and objects in motion, is published in the journal Perception. Stay tuned for more updates!