The Empty Page radical publishers recently blew a hole in the citadel of video-game analysis with the ground-breaking Critical Perspectives on Waluigi. With the aftershocks of the impact still reverberating around the Mario-studies sphere we are ready to blow another King Boo sized crater with the publication of More Critical Perspectives on Waluigi. The two authors of these exclusive and unique pieces are in fact both real life doctors of the PHD variety and are bringing their specialist skills to this most complex of computer game cases.
Towards a Workable Basic Scientific Theory of Waluigi by Dr. Imogen Clarke.
It has long been acknowledged that considerable academic value can be gained through the interpretation of Mario, Luigi and friends as personifications of particular scientific theories. As with the debate regarding the ultimate truth of such theories, we don’t know if the characters in the Mario video game franchise are intentional representatives of important ideas in the history of science, or simply convenient tools that we have appropriated for our own means. Regardless of such underlying philosophical questions, few can deny the insights gained through considering the relationship between Bowser and thermodynamics, King Boo and phlogiston, or Mario and the all-pervading delightfully-retro aether theory. But what is Waluigi?
Mario Studies has been heavily influencing the discipline of history of science for more than twenty years now, and yet research has thus far been focused exclusively on just a handful of games. In 1987, the BBC produced The Race for the Double Helix (US title), a Goldblum dramatisation of James Watson’s account of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. Five years later, the first Mario Kart game was released. It did not take long for a handful of historians to realise that Mario and his companions were engaging in a parallel race to discovery. This understanding moved beyond the realm of post-conference dinner conversations in 1996, with the publication of The Race for a Critical Study of Mario and Science, timed to coincide with the release of Mario Kart 64. The 2003 follow-up, The Race for the Double Dash, was intended to be a more accessible read, but sales were poor due to the unpopularity of the Nintendo Game Cube. Subsequent studies, based on Super Mario 64 and Mario’s Time Machine, looked beyond the limiting topic of DNA research, opening up Mario Studies to all fields of science from antiquity to the present day. Those early papers are now firmly embedded in the canon, and these games continue to dominate the field.
One could argue that it is as a result of this rather short-sighted use of sources that Waluigi, who does not appear in any of these games, has been completely overlooked. But this is a rather unsatisfying explanation, particularly when considering the dozens of articles that have been written about Baby Daisy. It is instead the nature of Waluigi himself that has led to his invisibility. Waluigi defies explanation. Who is he? What is he doing here? How do the other characters feel about him? These questions are practically unanswerable. He lacks any of the qualities that open up a subject to historical study. It sometimes seems as though he lacks any qualities at all. Waluigi was never given a story. We were never given a story. It is the users, not the developers, who are responsible for deciding the purpose of Waluigi. In the history of technology, he could be the text messaging function of mobile phones, except that nobody is using him. Waluigi is science from the bottom up, he is there to solve a problem of our choosing. But nobody knows what the problem is, and nobody is looking for a solution. Waluigi does not yet exist.
A Note on Mario-Universe Caste Systems by Dr. Jamie “McShank” Upton
Surprised you didn’t pick up on Fred Dinenage’s oft-cited text “Waluigi – the Gamma Caste: A Brave New (Mario) World” in which he delves into the (admittedly) heavy-handed use and meaning therein of a Gamma symbol emblazoned upon his cap. Dinenage traces back Waluigi’s origins to Huxley’s immortal text in which Gamma were described as the lowest of the autonomous working classes – given just enough individuality and social skills to interact with their Alpha and Beta superiors. Waluigi is a pale apparition of his brethren, bestowed just enough of the trademark plumbing insignia for Mario et al. to accept him, but with none of the originality or charm of a Birdo or a Ludwig Von Koopa. He is doomed to simultaneously suffer as a second class citizen – effectively no better than the anonymous, Epsilon-esque mushroom people.- whilst entombed in a mind and body with enough individuality and consciousness to be eternally tortured by such a plight.
You can read more of Dr. Upton’s analysis on his Twitter. He may also have a blog.
The Empty Page Radical Publishers will return with Critical Perspectives on Man vs. Food.