Have you ever had one of those moments where you’ve just finished playing a videogame, and the Real World is just waiting, almost patronizingly, to get back to it—to get some work done, pay your bills, or just, you know, put on some pants, but in that moment you wish, just for a second, that you could live forever in the simple lines and friendly colors of the videogame?
No? Well, then you either have a much more exciting life than I do, or you’re not playing the right videogames.
I, personally, have had many such experience. There was one rough real world summer when I would have given anything to escape into the world of Hyrule—and often did for hours at a time. But what if you really could hop into your favorite video game, or better still, become one of your favorite video game characters? What would that be like? And in a more practical sense, business sense… how much would it pay?
So that’s what we’re taking a look at today—because you just know, like everything else in life (even fake life), once you got used to being your favorite video game character, you’d need to start dealing with the day to day. You’d need to pay those bills (albeit perhaps not with pants, depending on your character), and you’d need to make them bones.
We’ll dive into the lives of five specific Nintendo characters: Mario, Peach, Bowser, Link, and Zelda. Why these characters in particular? Well, would you want to try out the life of a gun-wielding zombie hunter in a post apocalyptic world? (Some of my friends, don’t answer that.)
These characters, though, have some pretty good lives, and better still, some pretty cool jobs. So let’s take a look, starting with the O.G., Mario, at just how much these five big names in Nintendo would pull in.
Mario is a man of many hats—literally, one makes him fly, another walk on the bottom of the ocean, and another, vanish completely. He’s also held a good number of jobs over the years, from working as a doctor in Dr. Mario to an archaeologist in the game Mario’s Picross. But we all know him as the friendly Nintendo neighborhood plumber. So let’s work with that.
In the states, the median salary for a plumber was $50,180 in the most recent BLS reports (2013). Of course this is median, so you’ve got your higher end of the scale (the best paid were making about $86,000) and your lower end of things (about $29,590).
But Mario doesn’t live in the states, does he? No, he lives in the Mushroom Kingdom, and the closest equivalent in our world to the Mushroom Kingdom, is probably somewhere around Norway. (The nearby mountains, the rolling hills, green grass, longer than usual sunny days, waterfalls, prevalence of castles, and of course, the abundance of red and white mushrooms.)
In a place like Norway, Mario would earn approximately 347,664 kroners per year—that’s $41,986. So looks like if Mario wants to really make some money, he should probably move to the U.S. … Or just marry Peach.
If you’ve played Mario Kart 64 enough times, you undoubtedly remember this annoying little bit of dialogue, as Peach would squeak it every time she passed you by. Well, if you ever wondered what the hell she was talking about, it’s clear now: she was talking about pretty much everything.
Peach, of course, is a Princess—Princess Toadstool of the Mushroom Kingdom to be precise. As we’ve established already, the Mushroom Kingdom is likely in a place similar to Norway. So how much would a Norwegian Princess make? Well, the royal family there makes approximately $475,460 per year (not as high as you were expecting, perhaps?), and since there seems to be no sign of Peach’s mom and dad, or indeed, any other member of the royal family at all (sorry, Peach), all of that money would go to her (yay, Peach!)
That is, of course, unless Bowser comes in and takes it.
Unless you’ve been hiding in your shell, you know full well that Bowser is the King of the Koopas, and his job, well, seems to be unsuccessfully attempting to capture Princess Peach and take over the Mushroom Kingdom. And laughing.
But we’ll just go with his side gig, since that’s something we can actually calculate. Bowser is a King. We know his Koopa Kingdom would need to be somewhere close to the Mushroom Kingdom… Perhaps some place like our world’s Denmark?
In a place like that, Bowser would be making approximately $268,330 per year—that’s about $207,000 less than Princess Peach. No wonder he wants to take over her kingdom.
It’s not everyday you see an ad in the classifieds for a “sword-wielding, horse-riding, ocarina-playing, villain-slaying, princess-saving traveler/adventurer/badass,” so we’re just going to call him… a tour guide. (What? He guides Princess Ruto out of Lord Jabu Jabu’s belly.)
As you know by now, we need to figure out where Link, and more broadly, Hyrule are, if we’re going to calculate his income. What with the Gerudo Desert, the volcano, the Lost Woods, Lake Hylia, Lon Lon Ranch, and of course, Hyrule castle and the village area, it seems like Hyrule is a lot like Italy. Northern Italy, in particular.
Since Link seems to be on the job almost constantly, we’ll say he works about 60 hours a week—a busy schedule by anyone’s standards. Even so, that would put Link at only $1,884 per month, or $22,608. But we’re betting Zelda probably paid him a pretty big bonus for saving the kingdom. It’s not like she doesn’t have enough money…
Last but not least, we’re diving into Zelda’s rupee bag to see how much money she pulls in per year. Sticking with Hyrule being someplace similar to Italy, I needed to find out just how much a Princess in Italy might make… and almost as annoying as that big stupid owl, the information is simply not there.
I did, however, find the annual salary for the Prince of Italy, Victor Emmanuel of Savoy—$57,960. As you know, Hyrule is a land of equal opportunity for men and women. Sheik, after all, is a woman, and a badass assassin. But back to the Princess. We’re guessing that she’d make just as much as her male counterpart in Hyrule, in fact, she’d make more, seeing as though, like Peach, her family is nowhere to be found. With the total income of the royal family going straight to her alone, Zelda would pocket a whopping $2,811,060 per year.
(That’s 14,055 big red rupees!)
If you’re in the job market, you might find it a little more difficult to go out and nab yourself a position in a royal family, like Peach, Bowser, or Zelda; but with a little effort, you can at least be a plumber or a tour guide.
Of course the other option is to just play Nintendo in your underpants all day and simply pretend you live in the Mushroom Kingdom or Hyrule. And just so ya know—you can get paid to do this too. Video game testers can make anywhere between $18,000 and $55,000 a year. And that is pretty awesome.