Mario Kart, Magazines, and Friendships


Several of the students in the youth group have been hosting a regular meeting where they write a magazine together. That’s right; a magazine. Now, I don’t know what you were doing at 12, 13, 14, and 15, but I’m guessing it wasn’t this. This group of young men have formed wonderful friendships through this time and I’m excited to introduce you to them in this article! Enjoy this interview with Nathan Cook!

What is Kiro Tarakai?

“Kiro Tarakai is a small video game magazine which chiefly covers Nintendo games. Though not that varied in content, Kiro Tarakai is still exciting and fun to make and (presumably) fun to read.

The name Kiro dates back to when I was very young. Kiro was my publishing ‘company.’ I wrote various stories starring many characters, most prominently the superhero I made up, Moon Man. Most people who knew me when I was a young child could tell you who Moon Man is. I was very enthusiastic about storytelling and drawing (though not the most skilled at the latter). The Tarakai is an amalgamation of treasure () and meeting (). So, Kiro Tarakai really is where my present meets my past. Takara Kai is also my pen name. We were originally going to be named Kiro Tanokai, but the name was changed to avoid confusion with tanuki (also known as the Japanese raccoon dog.)

Kiro Tarakai is divided into multiple sections. Our first ever section was the Game & Console Zone, which covers game reviews, upcoming games, and beta of games. Secondly, we have the Fun Fan Fiction Frenzy section (say that five times fast!). It has fan fiction, such as fake games and, most prominently, the stories starring our original characters, Super KT Bros. and Agents of G.H.I.E.L.D. One of our more current sections is the Comic Craze section, which has sprite comics based on 80s games, 90s games, and the Mario & Luigi series. It is a colorful medium for telling stories. Lastly, we have the Tip ’n’ Tricks Town, which has walkthroughs and (of course) tips and tricks. There have been discontinued sections, such as our Super Fun Land activity section and our minuscule Art Zone.”

Why was Kiro Tarakai started?

“Previously, I had created short, one-man magazines, such as Kiro Insider and Kiro Star, which covered fake games. However, those magazines were written by me. I wanted to write a magazine with friends. I wanted to write it about real games. The idea of Kiro Tarakai started about a year before the actual founding of the magazine. A quote from my presidential interview for Kiro Tarakai’s first anniversary basically sums it all up, ‘I wanted something that would be a part of other peoples’ lives and not just mine.’

Through Kiro Tarakai, I wanted to bless (and still want to bless) the lives of others. Video games (and technology in general) are servants, but not masters. Ecclesiastes 7:14 says ‘In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.’ God has given me innumerable blessings, the fun and friendship of video gaming is one of them. As our name says, video gaming is an earthly treasure, but it is, nevertheless, a treasure. As Ecclesiastes also says, ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.’ The Lord blesses us in good times and in bad. I want to bless others too. I can do this through my passion for writing, enjoyment of video games, and my leadership and organization skills.”

When was Kiro Tarakai started? When is it published?

“Early in 2018, I approached several of my friends with the proposition of starting Kiro Tarakai (which was, of course, Kiro Tanokai back then). It was hard to decide who to ask to write full-time for the magazine, but I eventually decided on three of my closest friends: Grant Williams, Elijah Nelson, and Ethan Nelson. Once they had confirmed their enthusiasm in starting Kiro Tarakai, I sent letters to them, telling them their assignments for our first issue, which was published in April 2018.

Kiro Tarakai has been published every month since April 2018. Issues used to be less than twenty pages long, but now range from forty to sixty pages. The magazine has become very lengthy! It has become quite a deal to put together. Kiro Tarakai has become much longer, while life has become much busier! Thus, November of this year just might be the first ever month since our founding to lack a Kiro Tarakai issue. However, more on that later.”

Who are the authors of Kiro Tarakai?

“Again, Kiro Tarakai is a small magazine. Our authors number five and are from the southwest Virginia area and south West Virginia area. Since April 2018, our original authors (the ‘big four’) have been joined by only one more author.

I am the president and founder of Kiro Tarakai. Some have suggested that Kiro Tarakai is, in fact, a monarchy. We are not a monarchy, as I have, as the Declaration of Independence says ‘the consent of the governed.’ They have the right (and the duty) ‘to alter or to abolish it and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.’  But enough of this ludicrous debating over the governing of a small magazine! As president, I oversee (and often invent) most of our projects. I format and type the magazine, planning out future issue and articles. I lead our semiannual meetings and make major decisions. It’s a difficult, but enjoyable job!

Grant Williams is one of the original ‘big four.’ He is enthusiastic about the Mario & Luigi series and New Super Mario Bros. series. Grant is the vice president of Kiro Tarakai. His job is to proofread and edit the issue. It’s helpful knowing he’s there to erase my grammatical errors. Grant is also the sole composer of the KT Music subdivision. He has composed over an hour of songs. His twenty-nine songs include the soundtrack for our comic Mario & Luigi: Space Race. He is a talented musician, playing the piano, cello, and even the recorder.

Elijah Nelson, the eldest of the Nelson boys, is one of my more recent friends. He has varied video game experience, from Legend of Zelda to Earthbound to Pokémon. Sometimes I have to ask him to write shorter articles! He included lots of detail and specializes in more recent games, as he owns a Nintendo Switch.

Ethan Nelson, Elijah’s little brother, is our youngest (and perhaps most energetic) author. He has always has a good idea for stories and is eager to write them and overcome the obstacles, even when there’s nothing to write with! His energy really does contribute to his writing!

Our most recent author is a friend of mine and of Grant’s. Jonathon Altizer is from West Virginia and has been an author since our most recent semiannual meeting. He is also excited about writing. For reasons I will disclose shortly, I was hesitant to welcome new authors into the Kiro Tarakai family, but I have not regretted that choice, for he has given much to Kiro Tarakai!”

When did you first get a passion for writing?

“As you may have been able to tell by my slightly eloquent language, I love to write! Recently, one of my tutors has compared my descriptiveness to that of Edgar Allan Poe’s. I don’t know about you, but that is quite a compliment for me! I have loved writing ever since I began studying Essentials of the English language in 5th grade. I have written several short books starring the above-mentioned super hero Moon Man. I also have begun a space fiction novel and full-fledged Moon Man reboot in the making. I love to write! This also has advanced my love of language. I enjoy learning Latin, as well as other ancient and Romantic languages. All of us have our passions, and mine is language and communication. However, I do succeed in keeping my eloquence at bay when writing for Kiro Tarakai, so that my wording can be clearly understood! I love writing and I love video gaming, so I decided to merge the two. I love to use my gifts for the enjoyment of others.”

What does the future look like for Kiro Tarakai?

“Kiro Tarakai’s next semiannual meeting is to be held in mid-December. I hope to address much of our future at that time. I look forward to this meeting. It is a fun time to look back at the year and look forward to the future. We have our second annual Kiro Tarakai awards, where our authors select their favorite games and articles from the year. Also, I hope to finish several multimedia projects then, particularity a short film and maybe some music. Perhaps we will also accept a new author.

As I said earlier, November will most likely be the first month not to have a Kiro Tarakai issue due to other priorities such as school and family. However, I do plan to release the first issue of Kiro Tarakai Micro. This version of the magazine will contain the same sections, but less articles. Also, I hope to expand our Game & Console Zone Archives. This under-construction google doc has old Kiro Tarakai articles. As you might be able to tell, almost all our articles follow the same format, which was invented by Grant Williams and I. It is uncertain how much longer Kiro Tarakai will last, but something is for certain: it has brought friends closer together.”

How has Kiro Tarakai brought about close friendships?

“The motto of Kiro Tarakai is ‘Magnī Amicī firmiiōrēs quam magnī numerī sunt.’ This means ‘Great friends are stronger than great numbers.’ This emphasizes the small size of Kiro Tarakai’s staff, but its superiority over a larger magazine due to its strong friendships. This is why I was at first hesitant to have new authors. We have had multiple guest authors, who each wrote in only one issue, but we have only added one full-time author. With a smaller group of core staff, I feel it is easier for friendships to be encouraged. I’m glad that I am able to see each of the authors at least once a week (often even more than that).

Grant Williams is one of my oldest friends. One of my earliest memories of him is when we were very young and we had a massive argument. I argued that Mario was greater than Iron Man, while Grant argued that the greatness of Iron Man overshadowed that of Mario’s. As with most childish arguments, neither of us would admit the persuasiveness of the other. However, Grant and I have found a common interest in Mario games, especially the RPGs. We have, over the past few years become closer than ever. I am extremely grateful for such an awesome friend and such a deep-thinking brother in Christ.

I only recently met Elijah Nelson (recently being within the last four years). However, Kiro Tarakai has greatly increased our amicability. Elijah is a good friend and it’s nice to really get to know him through working with him. Before I start working with him in Kiro Tarakai, I sometimes would accidentally call him Ethan (and vice versa). In fact, I even got the Nelson brothers’ names wrong in the first issue! I really have gotten to know Elijah better through Kiro Tarakai.

Ethan is, as I mentioned before, very creative and extremely energetic. Its hard for him to sit still! Four walls are four confining slabs for him. He truly is a living lighting bolt. I’ve gotten to see this nature and his more pondering nature, for his creative ideas often come with interesting stories. I value his opinion. 

I have known our most recent author, Jonathon Altizer, for quite a while. He, Grant, and I attend the same classical co-op. I knew him well before Kiro Tarakai and he and I have had a fantastic friendship prior to Kiro Tarakai. He is funny, but is also a strong, serious brother in Christ.

‘Without the Kiro Tarakai magazine, I would never have met the Nelson boys. I’m so glad that I met them. They’re nice and friendly people. I also have strengthened friendships with my best friends Nathan and Grant. They’re all my best and kindest friends. I love this magazine.’—Jonathon Altizer

‘The magazine has brought about close friendships by allowing us authors to work together concerning something of which we’re all fond: video games.’—Grant Williams

I am glad for the friendships Kiro Tarakai has forged and look forward to its future! Magnī Amicī firmiiōrēs quam magnī numerī sunt.”