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XTINA GG dressed in Mario’s red hat and blue suspenders tipping their cap while posing on steps Photo: Simone de Rochefort/Polygon

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I lived like Mario for a week

Running, jumping, kart racing, dining on mushrooms — the Mario lifestyle!

XTINA GG makes short-form videos for Polygon’s TikTok and Instagram channels, in addition to co-hosting streams and YouTube videos. They joined Polygon in 2022.

Everyone knows Mario is cool. He can run, he can jump, he can stomp bad guys, he can rescue princesses, he can play sports, he went to medical school, he can paint, he’s a top dog in a number of sports, and he’s been made of paper. There’s nothing Mario can’t do.

And with a billion-dollar movie behind him, he may have just triple-jumped to icon status. But what does it really take to reach the level of the Mushroom Kingdom’s No. 1 plumber? I wanted to know.

I do not resemble Mario, but I could fashion myself in his image with ease: red hat, blue overalls, mustache, ya-hoo. But becoming Mario, living up to his style, would require going to greater lengths. I would need to inhabit the daily life of Mario.

So over five days, I set out to uncover the essence of what it really means to be a plumber, princess-saver, kart-driver, and overall cool guy. This is my story.

Day 1: Mario time!

A new day, a new week, but this time, I was living as Mario. It was time to go to work. Normally I would take the subway, but Mario doesn’t do that. He runs everywhere. And as Mario does, I do too. So this morning I ran five miles to work.

I quickly learned I can’t run five miles to work. My legs hurt and I was really hot.

Once I actually got to work, I just... Well, I got to work. Wearing Mario’s clothes, but working very hard.

The author sits at an office desk wearing a Mario costume, including his hat and mustache. There is a plunger on the desk to the right of the author’s work laptop. Photo: Simone de Rochefort/Polygon

I still had to do my job even though I was living as Mario, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t do Mario’s job, too. Mario is all about taking risks, so I found a private bathroom to do my private plumbing.

I committed to plumbing because Mario is committed. I am not a trained plumber. But I think father would be proud.

XTINA GG, dressed as Mario, stands in a bathroom holding a plunger above a toilet. Photo: Simone de Rochefort/Polygon

Next up, I wanted to get some jumping in. My colleague Pat was kind enough to help me out by setting up Mario’s signature Mystery Block. Having studied Mario for years and seen him achieve great heights countless times, I knew it had to be done. And I was ready to be just like him.

I jumped. I felt powerful. And higher and higher we went...

Tina, mid-leap, whacking a Mystery Block that we taped to a ceiling duct in the messy and brightly lit Vox Media office. Image: Simone de Rochefort/Polygon

After work, I headed home for dinner. Not my actual home, but Mario’s cultural home, Little Italy.

At a local ristorante I ordered the spaghetti carbonara. But what does Mario do while waiting for his food? Go on his phone? No. Twiddle his thumbs? Stare at other people eating? I didn’t know. But what I did know is that Mario loves sangria. (That’s just a headcanon. Don’t sue me, Nintendo. I just thought it’d be really funny for people to see Mario drinking sangria.)

Tina holds a massive forkful of spaghetti, with noodles falling off the fork. She’s dressed as Mario, sitting in an outdoor dining shed on a sunny, flower-lined New York street. Image: Christina Gayton/Polygon

The pasta came and it was really big. Too big. Mario loves spaghetti, but... I really couldn’t finish all of it. But I finished my sangria. And felt unstoppable.

With a full belly, I went to my actual home. Where would Mario’s life take me next?

XTina GG in a mario costume giving a double thumbs up before jumping on the subway to Brooklyn Photo: Simone de Rochefort/Polygon

Day 2: Here we go!

Tuesday was a work-from-home day, so I went with my roommates to go get some food. But I needed to find spaghetti or mushrooms. No other food would do.

I headed to my local deli to find suitable food. But lo and behold, most Brooklyn delis do not have spaghetti- or mushroom-based meals available for breakfast. So I, Mario, just stood and waited while my roommates ordered.

I also discovered delis do not take big coins as payment.

In need of sustenance, I headed to a bigger grocery store guaranteed to have frozen spaghetti. Or so I thought. Walking the freezer aisle, I was shocked to discover they had just a singular spaghetti. Where was the spaghetti??? I needed spaghetti.

This story has a happy ending: I found ALL the spaghetti. Call that a job well done.

Tina, dressed as Mario, gleefully holds a pile of boxes of microwave spaghetti, in front of a large freezer of frozen foods. Image: Christina Gayton/Polygon

Speaking of jobs: At this point, I wasn’t doing my job because I spent so long looking for spaghetti.

Day 3: I’m-a the Superstar!

I was off to the office again. But this time, I wasn’t going to run. I had something else in mind. Hello, Yoshi.

Christina, dressed as Mario, stares blankly into space, holding a busted dinosaur head on a stick Photo: Christina Gayton/Polygon

By riding this green dinosaur head on a stick, I could ride the subway while still maintaining the authenticity of being Mario. It’s true.

Once I got to the office, I started working... but was immediately tired without caffeine. I needed... a power-up. But what mushrooms does Mario actually eat? What mushrooms could I eat that wouldn’t kill me? Google had few responses to “mushrooms that make you hype as fuck.”

After acquiring the only mushrooms Whole Foods had to offer, I returned to the office and dug right in.

Tina, dressed as Mario, grimacing as they bite into a raw Baby Bella mushroom. Image: Christina Gayton/Polygon

Eating raw mushrooms did not seem like a good idea and it wasn’t. The texture was squishy. I hated being Mario.

Luckily, the day turned around, because after work I traveled to Coney Island to do Mario stuff. Karting, golf, archery — the New York City neighborhood is an oasis for a person living as Mario for the week.

XTINA GG holding a plush Luigi in Coney Island Photo: Simone de Rochefort/Polygon

I saw myself everywhere in Coney Island. I felt like a celebrity. Even the tables were Mario-colored.

First up, I jumped my way over to an archery booth to live my dreams of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. Sonic was not there, but the lady in charge seemed very excited to see Mario. I was really excited to shoot an arrow.

That excitement was very short-lived, as it turned out I was not good at archery at all. Maybe I didn’t have the physical coordination to be Mario? A wave of disappointment fell over me.

Tina, dressed as Mario, poorly holding a toy bow and arrow, aiming it at a target in a pile of stuffed animals. Image: Clayton Ashley/Polygon


Next I went golfing, as Mario is wont to do. Again, a couple holes in, I started to think: I’m not very good at being Mario.

XTina GG takes a swing at a mini golf course while dressed as Mario Photo: Simone de Rochefort/Polygon

Golfing is hard. Three over par is not the Mario way. Also, golf is boring. And Mario is subjected to it every time someone wants to play Mario Golf. Mario must be free of this endless cycle of hole after hole! What a terrible existence.

Thankfully, I followed golf with karting. When they actually let me buy a ticket, I was thrilled: I don’t have a driver’s license, but it didn’t matter. I doubted they’d have a DMV in the Mushroom Kingdom anyway.

Tina dressed as Mario, driving a go-kart, a look of intense concentration on her face. Image: Clayton Ashley/Polygon

I drove like a maniac!!!!!!!!! A maniac who drives at a very reasonable speed that’s definitely under the speed limit. The karts went slower than I thought they would but WOWIE. I felt free. I hit the turns. I was racing. I was Mario.

A couple people passed me, though, and it seems like they took great joy in passing Mario. Guess I’m not an aggressive enough driver. But I ended right back where I started, and that’s a dub in my book.

Day 4: Waaaaahhhh!

More work.

More spaghetti.

More plunging.

More running.

More jumping.

Today I tried sprinting from side to side, but quickly tired myself out. So I came to the conclusion that maybe Mario is more of a jogger... It’s a marathon, not a race... Wait, a marathon is a race…

Day 5: Game over!

While my final day also involved spaghetti, plunging, and jumping, I also wanted to end my Mario week with a bang. My friends are big Mario fans and gamers. They deserved to meet me. So we all went out to the club. With me, Mario.

Mario loves dancing, and I loved dancing as Mario. (This is canon, because Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix is a thing.) I was also so sweaty.

Tina dressed as Mario, riding piggyback on a friend wearing a Yoshi head, in a dark club. Her fist is raised triumphantly. Image: Christina Gayton/Polygon

After a whole work week as Mario, I realized a few things:

  1. Adults and children alike love Mario. Seeing Mario on the street brightens people’s days. And it put me in a good mood to see other people so happy.
  2. Dogs don’t seem to really care about Mario.
  3. When people saw me, they genuinely saw Mario. I was not catcalled even once while wearing this. Only Mario-called. It felt great.
  4. Mario brings out the best and worst in me. I felt so loved as Mario. I experienced true joy. I also felt like an utter failure as Mario. I was really bad at archery.

There may have been parts of the week where maybe I didn’t do exactly what Mario would’ve done. But that’s because being Mario is actually really fucking hard. He’s such a specific guy. With unlimited stamina and hand-eye coordination. I don’t know how he does it.

But hey, I was only Mario for one week. And he’s been Mario his whole life, so, maybe someday I’ll get there.

XTina GG dressed as Mario complete with mustache poses with their hand in the air on some steps Photo: Simone de Rochefort/Polygon

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