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07th Oct 2019

The five emotional stages of playing Mario Kart Tour during work

Ciara Knight

The following piece is best read during work hours

Thanks to the release of Mario Kart Tour, for twelve days, the world has come close to reaching a relative level of calm that was previously unprecedented.

Mario Kart Tour has taken over where Pokémon Go left off. Humanity has a new challenge now, and that challenge is to play Mario Kart Tour at all times during the day without getting fired or driving your loved ones away.

For the grand price of completely free, you can escape this muddled world and plunge yourself into Mario Kart Tour, a fictional universe where your driving skills can earn you fake money, fake cars and tonnes of fake adoration from a non-existent audience.

There’s a real skill to getting away with playing Mario Kart tour during work. Not everyone has mastered it yet. Here’s five emotional stages you’re going to experience when playing Mario Kart Tour at work.

Stage 1: Unbridled optimism

You’re on an unscheduled tea break and the work kitchen has finally cleared. You strategically planned things so that you would get a clear two-minute window of peace while the kettle boils, offering to make tea for any interested parties so as to elongate the process. Giddy at the success of your plan, you load up the app and get to work on securing the elusive fifth star in Bowser’s Castle. For flavour, you turn the volume on but keep it very low so that nobody nearby can catch on to the fact that you are playing a child’s game during work hours.

A sense of productivity runs over your body. Look at you, a cosmopolitan citizen getting private work done during the workday. Other people choose to wither away their workday by chatting about irrelevant matters such as the new Dancing On Ice lineup and Brexit, or simply by doing actual work that they’re being paid to do, but you’re out here getting real things done, driving a 150cc powered kart through the mean streets of Mario Kart land. That’s admirable. The grind never stops, you know that better than anyone.

Stage 2: Waning confidence

Roughly one minute into the game, it becomes clear that you’re probably not going to win this one. Not to worry, you’re simply playing for pride now. The competitors may see your name in last place at the finish line, but what they won’t see is the heart that went into the race. In many ways, Mario Kart isn’t about winning, it’s about taking part, being involved in something that’s bigger than all of us. It’s a community and you’re just happy to be involved.

Then you get hit with a shell for the third time and the tone of the game starts to change. To make matters worse, Sue from accounts has just burst into the kitchen and she’s eager to make small talk. As quickly as you dodged a green shell from an opponent, you make a sharp left turn for the bathroom to finish the game in peace. “Sorry, back in a minute, Sue”, you say without any intention of ever continuing that conversation about how it’s far warmer than usual for this time of year. This game is important, Sue. I will pray that one day you can gain the empathy and emotional intelligence understand that.

Stage 3: Chaotic rage

Some little c-word is out to get you and quite frankly, it’s a personal attack on your freedom. Princess Peach has launched a malicious assault upon your precious self and it’s marring the game for you. Fuelled by the rage of a thousand forest fires, you decide that the game no longer matters. What’s important now is ensuring that Princess Peach comes in last place, by whatever means possible. She has picked the wrong day and the wrong competitor to anger. Death by embarrassment is the only repercussion that fits.

In reality, things are even worse. In the time that you’ve spent hiding in the bathroom, someone has nicked all of the hot water from the kettle. You’ve already been missing from the desk for ten minutes, is a quarter of an hour a believable amount time to make three cups of mediocre tea? You’re livid. Refilling the kettle, you start up another game and adopt the driving strategy of a psychopath, bashing into everyone, firing shells, using that dumb ink blot thing to impede their vision. By whatever means possible, you want your fellow competitors to leave this game thinking “Who the hell was that? I wonder if everything is ok, you know, personally”. You’ll give them something to talk about, champ.

Stage 4: Reluctant perseverance

Twenty five minutes after you announced that you were making tea, you return to the desk. If losing your job is the price to pay for winning a goddamn Mario Kart race, then it was a good investment in your career. This job is just a stepping stone for you anyway. It’s very clear that your passion lies in motor sports, namely fictional ones. If your boss can’t understand that and allocate you a few Mario Kart breaks throughout the day, perhaps this wasn’t the right fit for you after all.

You’re exhausted, but determined. You fake a phone call and excuse yourself in search of a spare meeting room. Someone points out that your fingertips are bleeding, clearly from the ferocity with which you’ve been hammering the screen. “Haha, must be working too hard”, you joke. Ten minutes of sly karting later and according to your Fitbit, your heart rate is in the ‘high intensity exercise’ zone. You’re sweating and breathing heavily. If anyone asks what’s gotten you so flustered when you leave the meeting room, embarrassed, you’ll have to say it was porn rather than Mario Kart.

Stage 5: Definitive action

After a believable amount of time for a business phone call passes, you return to the desk. “Anyone interesting?”, your boss asks. She’s onto you. “Just a potential client finalising some details”, you confidently announce. It’s a good answer, but makes no sense given that you work in a call centre and have never interacted with a client in your life. Still, nobody questions anything further. At this point, a revelation presents itself into your line of thought. Your Mario Kart addiction has had a very clear hold on your life over the past twelve days. Work feels secondary to this interest and probably always will be.

After a lunch break that went twelve minutes over the allotted hour, you schedule a meeting with your superiors. They’re slightly concerned by the urgency with which you’ve requested the chat. You turn up five minutes late to make them sweat, but also to get another go at Koopa Troopa Beach. Those pesky sharp turns are destroying your progress. Flustered but determined, you announce that you will be leaving your job with immediate effect. “It was always going to be you guys or the Mario Kart universe. Evidently, I have chosen the latter”. You walk out of the office feeling three stone lighter. Now your life can truly begin. You’ll be penniless and unemployed, but at least you’ll have a thriving career as a fictional racing kart driver. Congratulations, you played yourself.