A tribute to gaming's 1%
It's all too trendy to rag on the rich. These days, you can't make a buck without some hippie getting their dreadlocks in a knot over economic disparity or whatever socialist jargon they picked up at the local organic market. And the worst part? That gold digging Mario keeps collecting coins and murdering animals with nary a scratch to his do-gooder reputation. Go on, take a good long look at our New Super Mario Bros. 2 review (opens in new tab) and tell us he's no less money-hungry than those fat cats on Wall Street.
Why does Mario get a free pass while other virtual millionaires and billionaires get their names dragged through the mud? We don't know, but it's high time we paid some respect to the misunderstood video game elite...
Great men lead societies. Greater men build their own at the bottom of the ocean. Greater men like Andrew Ryan, Rapture's founder and benevolent leader, whose years of sweat and toil were repaid with a 9-iron to the face by some chump with identity issues. And for what? Daring to thumb his nose at the man? Daring to create a society based on the purest tenets of capitalism and the pursuit of happiness? Granted, Rapture's economy ran on little girls and sea slugs, but it took a visionary like Ryan to see that true freedom was worth far more than few ribbon-haired sacrifices.
It's a shame, really. Had Rapture's ungrateful swine bothered to put in a little hard work instead of getting hopped up on slug juice, they could have partied like it was 1959 until the end of days. Instead, they chose to burn Rapture to the ground and turn on the one man who understood the nature of the human spirit. As a great leader once said, We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us. Rest well, sweet prince.
Pennies and dimes may be chump change to topsiders, but in the expensive underworld of The Binding of Isaac, having the bling makes Greed king. The pimpest of the Seven Sins, Greed operates by his own rules, appearing at random to give Isaac some company and drop valuable coins if he's feeling generous. He's even followed by an entourage of headless hoppers, and trust us when we say those guys don't work for free.
Greed's origins are unknown, but the fact that he hangs out in subterranean shops and wears a stylish noose has led some to believe this undead 1%-er escaped a grisly death and now spends his days amassing his fortune in the underworld. Yet despite his lot in life, you'll never see Greed crying about it. That's more than we can say about those other babies.
Robert Edwin House (aka Mr. House)
It takes a vast supply of money and gumption to survive a nucleur war. Thankfully, Robert Edwin House (Mr. House to you) had both in spades. As the CEO of RobCo Industries and the ruler of the New Vegas Strip, this DIY billionaire didn't let a few megatons of radiation break his stride. Like all bold businessmen, Mr. House transformed a dire situation into a great opportunity, by buying his own ticket to immortality and rising from the ashes like a well-groomed phoenix to lead the mutated rabble of New Vegas into a glorious new age.
The King of Albion (aka You)
Fable 3 is packed with moments when the player must choose between a life of opulence and power or one of sacrifice and service. Will you restore Bowerstone's orphanage or turn it into a lucrative brothel? Crank up the rent in Aurora to buy that fancy armor? Donate that rare thingamajig from the Cave of Scary Evil or sell it for cold hard cash? The moral path was crystal clear, but true kings knew that what Albion really needed: A greedy monster at the helm, making the tough decisions and building their mountains of gold. After all, Albion's army didn't run on hugs and smiles. When the dust finally settled, it was the rulers with the largest treasury who wound up saving the most citizens and really, what good is a clear conscious if everyone else is worm food?
Today's Pokemon trainers are lazy, entitled brats who expect victory to be handed to them on a silver platter. Back in the day, it was different. You had hard-working, salt-of-the earth Pokemon Masters like Giovanni who knew the value of a Pokemon buck, and didn't expect nothing from nobody. Giovanni was a self-made man who built Team Rocket from the dirt and ran an entire empire on business savvy, rigorous training, and rock-solid leadership. Still, like any sharply dressed tycoon with a few extra bucks, the media cast Giovanni as the villain of a crime syndicate when the only crime he was truly guilty of was playing the game, only better.
And how did Giovanni respond to his public persona? He embraced it. He knew every successful sport needed a heel, so he flung himself on the Poke-pyre to give the middling lower class something to fight for. Because that's what heroes do - they become symbols. For that, Giovanni, we choose you.
Rufus Shinra became a target for Occupy Midgarists after taking over the Shinra Electric Power Company from his father in Final Fantasy VII. Why? For having the audacity to heat their homes, light their businesses, and provide warm food to their children with mako energy. So what if mako was (gasp!) refined from the lifeblood of the planet? That didn't stop those Avalanche terrorists from cramming it into materia and using it to kill hundreds if not thousands of innocent monsters. Go on Cloud, we dare you to cast the first stone.
Really, to oppose Rufus Shinra's empire is to oppose science itself. So-called research into the healing properties of the Lifestream has been discredited time and time again by Shinra's top scientists and shareholders. What's more, there's conclusive proof that the Lifestream is. in fact. the number one cause of silence, poison, and other leading diseases. For all we know, Rufus Shinra was saving lives. Who are we to begrudge him for wearing expensive suits and earning a decent living?
Raiding tombs isn't cheap. There's the raiding licenses for one; not to mention the temple fees, shrine taxes, crypt levies, and secret society memberships. Throw in the cost of weapons, ammo, designer sunglasses, and ill-fitting t-shirts, and it's game over for the average adventurer's budget. Luckily, there are philanthropists like Lara Croft, heiress to the Croft fortune, who give generously of their time and money to plundering the tombs others are too cheap or unfit to enter. Thanks to Ms. Croft's efforts, treasures that would have otherwise remained lost to time have been uncovered for all the world to see. Some may have had the odd world-ending consequence, but what's a lucrative venture without a little risk?
Ok, so we're cheating by including Lara Croft to an article about rich jerks. Croft ranks low on the list of millionaires, and she's rarely been called a jerk. Still, she is swimming in cash ... and she does deal with jerks. You know what? Just go with it.
The Illusive Man
Most people saw Commander Shepard as humanity's only hope against the Reapers in Mass Effect, but most people are idiots. Without the Illusive Man's credits and galaxy-wide connections, Captain Smugface and his band of alien lovers would have been forced to fight with garbage freighters and pop guns. Heck, without the Illusive Man's costly medical resources, Shepard would have remained as fish food on some alien planet while the rest of the universe's population bowed to their new, robotic overlords.
Cerberus' tactics were a little drastic for some, but at the end of the day the only thing the Illusive Man did wrong was love humanity too much. Those of you that have finished Mass Effect 3 might think differently, but those particular allegations are still under investigation.
A slick salesman, real estate mogul, and self-made bellionaire, Tom Nook is the uncontested Donald Trump of the digital world. No deed gets signed without a paw of approval from Animal Crossing's resident raccoon; and thanks to a bullish video game market, you know he's living large off those interest rates.
That being said, don't you dare call Tom Nook a jerk. When this corporate bigwig isn't regulating the housing industry, he's keeping the economy afloat through the operation of the town's only profitable store. That's right, all you lazy government parasites; while you're out there digging for treasure and catching bugs, Mr. Nook is doing what needs to be done to keep this great island from falling into the red hands of communism. Or something. Show some respect!
What would you do with the unlimited funds and resources of an international corporation? Sponsor a charity for sick kids? Create third-world educational programs? End world hunger? Of course not - you'd lord over a fighting tournament for pandas, dinosaurs, kangaroos, and self-aware training dummies; thus following in the footsteps of Tekken's Heihachi Mishima.
Heir to the Mishima fortune, Heihachi is a gazillionaire with guts. He's an entrepreneur who doesn't let middle class problems, like mortality and ethics, get in the way of turning a profit. True, he's a crappy father and has a few daddy issues of his own, but Heihachi knows what it takes to steer a company into the future and he's not afraid to crack a few genetically engineered fighters to do it. We know he's doing the whole living in the shadows thing lately, but we consider that a well-earned vacation.
The video game history books are wrought with inaccuracies. For instance, the bleeding hearts in Streets of Rage would have you believe Mr. X was a heartless crime lord whose money and influence led to all those ragey streets in the first place. This is simply not true. Let's look at the facts, shall we? On one side, you had three unemployed punks named Adam Hunter, Axel Stone, and Blaze Fielding who kicked the crap out of random shoppers and trashed public property on a daily basis. Mr. X, on the other hand, spent his own money hiring legitimate enforcers to stop said punks, all while running an upstanding business that likely provided a bulk of the jobs for the down-and-out City residents.
And don't forget: Mr. X actually offered Axel's gang a job at his side (with benefits, no less). But nooo, far be it for those unmotivated douchebags to give up their vigilante ways and make an honest paycheck for once.
When life handed Cave Johnson lemons, he didn't make lemonade. He made life take those lemons back. He got mad! He demanded to see life's manager, and threatened to burn down life's house ... with lemons! Such was the moxie that made Cave a natural born leader who lifted himself from the unwashed masses to become the billionaire CEO of Aperture Science. So what if his experiments in portal technology and fancy gels ultimately led to the death of his company and a few hobos? So what if he bought seventy million dollars of moon dust and died of a terrible moon dust disease? Cave Johnson took risks, dammit. He didn't ask why, he asked why not! He made a career of throwing science at a wall to see what would stick, and the Portal/Half-Life world is a much more interesting if not dangerously unstable place because of him.
We are the 99%
Did these rich jerks teach you anything about how to make your own fortune? Or do you now burn with socialist rage? Let us know in the comments!