On a less serious note… Welcome to Mario Kart!

November 5, 2011

Political Theory

Welcome to Mario Kart!

Last Wednesday night, I played Mario Kart 64. For those of you who do not know Mario Kart 64 is a cornerstone of most 90’s children’s childhood. It was certainly apart of mine, and while I am by no means a video game junkie (as our professors wife seems to be) I do enjoy playing them, even one’s this old.


However this time around, the race was different. Mid race my friend seemed to take an illegal shortcut that I didn’t remember.


Not only did he cheat me, but he seemed to cheat some memory of my childhood by taking advantage of a glitch in the game.

I protested to which my friend responded, “tough luck, man.” And proceed to beat me in the race.

My friend argued that sometimes you have to play a little dirty if you want to win, and if he was a bit more like Machiavelli would say, “That there are two ways of contending, one in accordance with the laws, the other by force; the first of which is proper to men, the second to beasts.” In layman’s terms that, people should be both beasts and men, both cheat and play by the rules. This is exactly what my friend was doing, albeit he wasn’t very sneaky, or “skilful in feigning and dissembling,” as Machiavelli suggest.  But the fact still reminded that he was playing within the rules most of the time, cheating at select moments, and getting away with it.

When dealing with something as nostalgic as Mario Kart, I had to disagree with my friends actions and Machiavelli’s advice. Would you cheat in Candy Land or skip ahead in your favorite childhood movie just to see the ending? Didn’t think so. You would play all of Candy Land and watch all of The Lion King, because you don’t play Candy Land or watch The Lion King for the pure purpose of winning or seeing the ending; you do it because it reminds you of something you had long forgotten you once enjoyed.

I cheat, therefore I am?

Along these lines I wasn’t playing Mario Kart not to win but just for the fun of it. Yet my friend seemed to relish the in the glory of winning a video game and would do so by any means necessary even if it meant tarnishing his childhood memory by cheating.

Since then I have been wondering, are there things that we deem sacred enough not to cheat?       Even if we could get away with it, would we be disciplined and not? Or is cheating so engrained in us that the memory of our childhood can be cheated for the pure purpose of winning a game? Where do we draw the line on what is moral to cheat and what is not?



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2 Comments on “On a less serious note… Welcome to Mario Kart!”

  1. ajnovo Says:

    My sister and I have a relationship similar to you and your friend – she always cheated at games, and I couldn’t stand it when she didn’t follow the rules. It got to the point that she started hiding our board games to avoid playing them and risk losing. I think that certain people just can’t stand losing and are willing to do anything to win and be successful. Not that I think my sister is going to turn into some power crazed who knows what, but she’s definitely more cutthroat than I am and therefore probably going to be more successful in life.

    Even at a young age children know the difference between winners and losers, and I don’t think anyone likes the cliche phrase “everyone is a winner.” Parents always pressure children to do their best and to perform better than their peers which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but children also have to learn the difference between right and wrong which is where conflicts arise. My parents never really stepped in with my sister’s cheating because she was younger and they thought letting her cheat was equaling the playing field between her and me. Eventually she learned the rules, but the level of competitiveness between us is still large (She is competitive while I’m not) – that’s just who we are.

    It is ironic that my childhood memories are filled with my sister cheating, and you’re trying to make a point that certain events in life are too golden to be ruined by the idea of cheating especially childhood memories. I just think it shows how even at a young age aggressive or passive behavior can be seen in children, and even now, she’s more focused on the end result (winning) while I’m more interested in the moment and seeing where that takes me.

  2. godzillagti Says:

    Some things today don’t seem as sacred as they did when I was younger. I see all of these grand theft auto games where you can cheat your way through the game quite quickly. The only consequence here is that some of your friends will criticize you for it. If one were to cheat in something like checkers on the other hand, then people would be furious. If I were to cheat in a game of checkers or chess with another person and they found out, the game would probably end. I feel that this reason is that chess and checkers is not only a game involving a lot of mental skill, but it has also been around much longer. Many people honor tradition, the tradition here being that neither opponent shall cheat in a game of chess or checkers. If one were to get away with cheating in chess or checkers, it doesn’t make you feel all that great. You may win the game, but you know that you are not truly more skilled than your opponent because you needed to cheat to win. Machiavelli would see that a win is a win regardless of if you got your hands a little dirty in the process, but when you disrespect tradition, winning just isn’t the same. I cheated in a game of chess against my father when I was younger. I moved a piece of his so that I could beat him a few turns later. Later I told him that I had cheated when he wasn’t looking and didn’t deserve to win. He then told me that knew I had cheated the whole time. He was very disappointed in me until I told him the truth. We played again and I lost, but I wasn’t upset. I knew that he had bettered me in a game of skill and I was determined to beat him on skill alone. All I have to say is that wining through “accordance to the law” feels much better than any other way.

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