Mario would earn £32,895 as an Italian plumber – which video game characters would be the richest if they had real jobs? – News from the European gaming industry

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  • At the top of the rich list is Borderland chairman ‘Handsome Jack’ with an equally handsome salary of £333,043 a year.
  • Super Mario ranks among the lowest paid, earning £32,895 a year on a typical plumber’s salary in Italy.
  • Pac-Man earns the lowest salary of any character as a security guard in Japan, bringing in just £15,916 a year.

From Super Mario to Lara Croft, have you ever wondered where your favorite video game protagonists and villains would rank in the real job market?

Online gaming platform Solitaired took a look at some of the world’s most iconic video game characters and calculated how much each would earn if they landed their dream job in the real world. They based character earnings on data from salary comparison sites as well as publicly available pay brackets to find an average annual salary for more than 50 video game characters.

Top earnings from video games

  1. Handsome Jack, Borderlands 2

At the forefront is Borderland’s narcissistic villain Handsome Jack, who would take home £333,043 a year as CEO of a company. While Hyperion Corp has thankfully not been founded yet, it seems only fitting that as the fictional president of an intergalactic weapons manufacturer and supplier, Jack walks away with such a huge salary.

  1. Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid

In second place is Metal Gear Solid’s eye patch wearing Solid Snake, who would earn an impressive £107,517 a year as a US Army Special Forces soldier. Snake, who boasts an impressive military career, was first inducted into the Green Berets during his teenage years before later joining Big Boss’s special forces unit, FOXHOUND, meaning he would be paid substantially for his specialized skills acquired.

  1. Albert Wesker, Resident Evil

In third place is Resident Evil’s Albert Wesker, who reportedly earns a salary of £90,519 a year as a virologist. Graduating at age 17 with a doctorate in virology, Wesker began his training at Umbrella Pharmaceuticals and was later transferred to the Arklay laboratory as a senior researcher working on the t-Virus project, following the dissolution of his training school.

  1. Alex Mason, Call of Duty

In fourth place is Call of Duty veteran and fan favorite Alex Mason. Mason is unlikely to struggle to remember those numbers, as he racks up an impressive £82,317 a year as an intelligence analyst for the CIA. Mason, who makes his first appearance as a main playable character in Call of Duty: Black Ops, joined the CIA’s Operation 40 team in 1958 and continued to perform several missions for the CIA despite his imprisonment and his brainwashing in Vorkuta.

  1. Max Payne, Max Payne

In fifth place is titular action avenger Max Payne, who reportedly earns £75,922 a year as a police detective in New York. Payne began his law enforcement career in the 1990s, working for the NYPD as a detective before joining fellow DEA Alex Balder in the Valkyr drug case, following the brutal murder of his wife and of his daughter in 1998.

The 20 highest earning video game characters

Rank video game character Video game Job/Occupation Annual salary (£) Annual salary ($)
1. Handsome Jack Borderlands 2 CEO £333,043 $432,524
2. solid snake Solid metal gear special forces soldier £107,517 $139,632
3. Albert Wester resident Evil Virologist £90,519 $117,557
4. Alexander Mason Call of Duty CIA officer £82,317 $106,905
5. Max Payne Max Payne NYPD detective £75,922 $98,600
6. Cole Phelps The black LAPD Detective £71,846 $93,306
7. Gordon Freeman half-life Research associate scientist £70,145 $91,097
8. Arthur Morgan Red Dead Redemption 2 Bounty hunter £69,750 $90,585
9. gothic mortimer The Sims Scientific £69,076 $89,709
ten. isaac clark dead space Engineer £64,859 $84,232
11. Duke Nukem Duke Nukem CIA Special Agent £62,837 $81,607
12. CJ Johnson grand theft auto san andreas Entrepreneur £59,626 $77,436
13. bella gothic The Sims intelligence researcher £58,363 $75,796
14. Michael DeSanta Grand Theft Auto V Film producer £54,563 $70,861
15. Leon Kennedy resident Evil Police officer £54,113 $70,276
16. homer simpson Simpson Hit and Run Nuclear Technician £53,629 $69,648
17. master chef Halo Master Chief Petty Officer £53,491 $69,469
18. doom killer Loss Marine Artillery Master Sergeant £53,490 $69,468
19. Sam Fisher Burst cell Navy Seal £48,729 $63,284
20. Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine resident Evil SWAT team member £48,158 $62,543

Lowest earning video games

  1. Pac-Man, Pac-Man

At the bottom of the list, Pac-Man takes the lowest earning spot, earning just £15,916 a year as a security guard in Japan – where the character got his start. While the creators won’t make it clear that Pac-Man has a job on its own, the role seems fitting given that Namco’s classic shows the yellow sprite navigating mazes trying to get rid of unwanted ghostly intruders.

  1. Link, The Legend of Zelda

Second from bottom is Legend of Zelda hero and protagonist Link, who would earn just £19,661 a year as a knight – if the job were to still exist. A knight was paid an average of two shillings a day during the 1200s, meaning Link would take home just over £19,000 when factoring in currency conversions and rising inflation.

  1. Cloud Strife, Final Fantasy VII

The third lowest earner is Cloud Strife from the Final Fantasy series who is said to earn £19,964 a year as a Private First Class in the US Army. Cloud failed to join SOLDIER, becoming a Shinra infantryman instead, thus justifying our sword fighter’s lower pay bracket.

  1. Desmond Miles, Assassin’s Creed

As the fourth-lowest earner on the list, Assassin’s Creed main character Desmond Miles is said to earn just £21,408 a year as a bartender in New York. Desmond, who is descended from a long line of assassins, used his training to hitchhike to New York, where he worked as a bartender at Bad Weather before his eventual capture.

  1. Ryu, street fighter

Fifth from the bottom is the main character of the Street Fighter series, Ryu, who would make just £21,723 as a martial arts instructor in Japan. Ryu made his first appearance in Capcom’s original Street Fighter game in 1987, and while his name roughly translates to “abundant” in Japanese, the same can’t be said for his expected salary.

The 20 lowest paid video game characters

Rank video game character Video game Job/Occupation Annual salary (£) Annual salary ($)
1 Pac man Pac man Security guard £15,916 $20,670
2 Link The Legend of Zelda Knight £19,661 $25,533
3 cloud conflict Final Fantasy private first class £19,964 $25,927
4 Miles Desmond Assassin’s Creed Bartender £21,408 $27,802
5 Ryu street fighter martial arts instructor £21,723 $28,212
6 Marcus Fenix armament of war army sergeant £24,119 $31,324
7 Don Lothaire The Sims Medical intern £24,784 $32,187
8 Geralt of Rivia the witcher pest controller £24,906 $32,345
9 Niko Bellic Grand Theft Auto IV Taxi driver £25,521 $33,144
ten Flash Final Fantasy Security guard £29,084 $37,771
11 Crash Bandicoot Crash Bandicoot Bodyguard £29,670 $38,533
12 John Marston Red Dead Redemption Rancher £32,770 $42,559
13 mario Super Mario Bros. Plumber £32,895 $42,721
14 Tom Nook animal crossing Real estate agent £33,812 $43,912
15 Isabella animal crossing secretary £34,071 $44,248
16 Freddy Fazbear Five nights at Freddy’s Mascot £35,078 $45,556
17 Captain John ‘Soap’ MacTavish Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare army sergeant £35,953 $46,692
18 Booker DeWitt Bioshock Infinite Private detective £36,000 $46,753
19 spyro Spyro the Dragon Jeweler £36,516 $47,424
20 sonic the hedgehog sonic the hedgehog professional athlete £36,592 $47,522

Honorable mentions

Some character wins meant they ranked elsewhere on the list, but some are so iconic it would be a shame to miss them altogether.

Given Super Mario’s Of Italian descent, he is said to earn a salary of £32,895 working as a plumber in Italy, ranking him 41st in the list. Elsewhere in Europe, the female lead of Tomb Raider Lara Croft rows 27andearning a salary of £41,998 as a British archaeologist.

While sonic the hedgehog is not currently looking for a job, due to his ability to run at supersonic speeds it is only fitting that he earns a salary of £36,592 as a professional athlete. Though he might have to wait a few years before he can win, as the creators suggest he’s only 15.

Pokemon Pikachu would be perfectly suited for detective work given his latest film role, earning him £37,282 a year – although given his elemental type he would also make an excellent electrician. His trainer and best friend, Ash Ketchumwould only top Pikachu’s earnings, earning £41,327 as a researcher for Professor Cherry.

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