Jake Roper, host of Vsauce 3, thinks Mario might be evil. Video screenshot by Anthony Domanico/CNET
The world’s most well-known plumber undoubtedly is Mario from the Super Mario video game series. Mario has rescued the princess and saved the Mushroom Kingdom more times than we can count, but is the plucky plumber actually a good guy?
A new video from Jake Roper, host of YouTube science and tech culture series Vsauce 3, uses several psychological experiments and concepts — as well as information about the games themselves — to argue that Mario might not only be a bad guy, but might actually be evil. Or, at least, we as gamers might be making Mario do evil things, and there might be some deeply rooted psychological reasons for why we do that.
The clip, posted Friday, explains several well-known psychological experiments and concepts — like the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, Stanley Milgram’s electric shock experiment and cognitive dissonance — to show how we as humans can make Mario do some pretty bad things.
For example, we gleefully force Mario to smash Goombas and Koopa Troopas because they’re bad. The manual tells us they’re bad, they hurt Mario when he runs into them and stand in the way of our quest to save the Princess, so they must deserve to die, right?
It’s really up to us, as we are the ones controlling Mario.
As Roper points out, you can actually get through the entire Super Mario Bros game without killing a single enemy, aside from Bowser in the game’s final battle. If we kill the Goombas and Koopa Troopas or smash the bricks — the game’s manual indicates that the Mushroom People (the people Mario is on a mission to save) were turned into stones, bricks and horse-hair plants — we’re causing Mario to do evil things even though he doesn’t have to.
So, is Mario evil? It seems the answer is yes, but only if we make him that way. Be sure to watch the video below to learn more.