Super Mario Run players express concerns that the game features a ‘sexist’ portrayal of Princess Peach. Some players argue that Peach’s portrayal in the game is ‘antiquated’ and supports harmful stereotypes about women.
Super Mario Run is the latest hit mobile game based on a Nintendo franchise, with Pokemon GO taking the world by storm earlier this year.
Super Mario Run ‘Sexism’ Controversy
Some players say that Super Mario Run, a platforming game on iOS, is sexist. In the game’s World Tour mode, Princess Peach invites Mario to a party at her castle and offers to bake him a cake. Gaming’s best-known royal is then kidnapped by (notorious Mario-universe villain) Bowser and players must progress through 24 levels to rescue Princess Peach and unlock her as a playable character.
While Mario rescuing Princess Peach has been a big part of the Mario franchise ever since the character was first introduced in the 1980s, on social media, some players say that Super Mario Run offered Nintendo a chance to put forward a new plot. The company had an opportunity to do away with the sexist notion that Princess Peach needs to be rescued, that’s she’s helpless and cannot defend herself, but it chose to embrace that trope once more instead.
That Princess Peach is baking a cake – rather than DJ-ing at the party or some other task – has also drawn criticism. ‘Women belong in the kitchen/women only know how to bake’ is a common sexist stereotype. There’s nothing wrong with baking, of course, but some believe that it’s the only thing that women (and female characters) are good for and the argument is that combined with Peach’s ‘helplessness,’ Super Mario Run is helping to reinforce that line of sexist thinking.
Many players have also pointed out that Super Mario Run is the first time that many people – particularly young girls and women – may have interacted with a Nintendo game or the Mario franchise and that reshaping the series’ portrayal of Princess Peach could have seen the company win over many new fans.
With Super Mario Run having set records when it launched on iOS devices last week, there’s no indication that Peach’s portrayal has limited the game’s success so far. However, with just three levels being available for free and the full World Tour campaign being locked behind a $10 paywall, the reluctance to pay to play through the rest of the ‘sexist’ plot could potentially have an impact on Nintendo’s earnings.
At this point it’s unclear whether Nintendo will update the game to address concerns, or what the company’s plans are for Mario games are going forward. We’ll keep you posted should the company release an official comment.
Super Mario Run is now available on iOS. An Android release is expected sometime in 2017.