Lately, I have been reading brain cognition research on video games and children's mental development. It turns out that video games train children to see more detail, have better hand-eye coordination, and have an increased ability to plan actions ahead of time. If I could cite my sources here, I would :)
Another benefit that video games, and Mario and Mario Kart in particular, has for piano students is that I have many new metaphors to draw on that a Mario-playing child can understand. Here are some:
Sight reading: I always tell students to "read ahead". "Uh-huh..." is the usual response. The other day, I was suddenly inspired and asked the student "do you know how when you are playing Mario Kart, if you look ahead on the track, you can steer much better? Sight reading your piano music is just like that". They looked wide-eyed and instantly interested. They applied the same technique that they had learned in Mario Kart, and voila their sight reading improved.
Concentration: Ask a student to play without making mistakes. Then ask a student to play their piece, imagining that they are trying to finish their hardest level on Mario. You will see which scenario is the most effective!
Natural Rhythm: A little known fact is that most Mario skills are very time-oriented and are most successfully done in an identifiable rhythm and pattern. Mario always falls down at the same speed. Ask a student to "jump" from note to note the way Mario can jump. They will do it more rhythmically.
And finally, it is just a topic of conversation I can have with my students. It is interesting to me how they managed to finish certain levels or whether or not they have mastered "Rainbow Road", which I have not!