Togelius and colleague Sergey Karakovskiy's contest challenges entrants to develop software that can learn to master Mario by playing it over and over; much as generations of gamers have learned to play the game in bedrooms the world over...
Evolving a better Mario would typically involve creating a population of programs each able to play the game, but in ways that differ slightly from each other. Software would pit them all against the game and combine elements of the most successful to "father" a new generation of Marios, each with some random mutations of their own included.
Many rounds of this automated process can create programs well adapted to a particular task, just like a species evolving to better fit and exploit its environment...
In other news, the Tron sequel, Tron Legacy, is set to come out next year. The producer is the same guy who made the first one. It features Jeff Bridges reprising his original role as Kevin Flynn, a Steve Jobs-like computer tycoon who disappeared in the 1980s.
Apparently, they actually reopened the "Flynn's Arcade" from the original movie in California as a promotional gimmick for the film: