Mario would earn $42,721 as an Italian plumber.

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

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


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These are video game’s highest earners if they were real:

1. Handsome Jack, Borderlands 2

At the top spot is Borderland’s narcissistic bad-guy, Handsome Jack, who would take home an eye watering $432,524 per year as a corporate CEO. While Hyperion Corp is fortunately yet to be founded, it seems only fitting that as the fictional president of an intergalactic weapons manufacturer and supplier, Jack would take home such a huge paycheck.

2. Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid

In at second place is Metal Gear Solid’s eye-patch sporting Solid Snake, who would take home an impressive salary of $139,632 per year as a Special Forces Soldier for the US Army. Snake, who boasts an impressive military career, was initially inducted into the Green Berets during his teenage years before later joining Big Boss’ special forces unit, FOXHOUND, meaning he would be substantially compensated for his acquired specialist skills.

3. Albert Wesker, Resident Evil

In third place is Resident Evil’s Albert Wesker, who would earn a salary of $117,557 per year as a virologist. Having graduated at 17 with a doctorate in Virology, Wesker originally began his training with Umbrella Pharmaceuticals and was later transferred to the Arklay Laboratory as a senior researcher working on the T-Virus project, following the disbanding of his training school.

4. Alex Mason, Call of Duty

In fourth place is Call of Duty veteran and fan favorite, Alex Mason. Mason is unlikely to have trouble remembering these numbers, as he stacks up an impressive $106,905 per year as an Intelligence Analyst for the CIA. Mason, who makes his first appearance as the main playable character in Call of Duty: Black Ops, joined the CIA Operation 40 squad in 1958 and continued to carry out several missions for the CIA despite his imprisonment and brainwashing at Vorkuta.

5. Max Payne, Max Payne

In fifth place is the titular action avenger Max Payne, who would earn $98,600 per year as a police detective in New York City. Payne began his police career in the 1990s, working for the NYPD as a detective before joining DEA colleague Alex Balder on the Valkyr drug case, following the brutal murder of his wife and daughter in 1998.

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These are video game’s estimated lowest earners in real-life:

1. Pac-Man, Pac-Man

At the bottom of the list, Pac-Man take the spot as the lowest earner, with a salary of just $20,670 per year as a security guard in Japan – where the character first debuted. While the creators don’t specify that Pac-Man has a job per se, the role seems fitting given the Namco classic shows the yellow sprite navigating through mazes trying to get rid of unwanted ghost intruders.

2. Link, Legend of Zelda

Second from the bottom is Legend of Zelda’s hero and protagonist, Link, who would earn a measly $25,533 per year as a knight – if the job were to still exist. A knight was paid an average of two shillings per day during the 1200s, which means that Link would take home just over $25k when taking into consideration currency conversions and increases in inflation.

3. Cloud Strife, Final Fantasy VII

The third lowest earner is Cloud Strife from the Final Fantasy series who would earn $25,927 per year as a Private First-Class Soldier in the US Army. Cloud was unsuccessful in joining SOLDIER, instead becoming a Shinra infantryman, hence justifying the lower pay band for our sword-wielding fighter.

4. Desmond Miles, Assassin’s Creed   

As the fourth lowest earner in the list, Assassin’s Creed’s modern-day main character, Desmond Miles, would earn just $27,802 per year as a bartender in New York City. Desmond, who is the descendant of a long line of assassins, used his training to hitchhike to New York City, where he worked as a bartender at Bad Weather before his eventual capture.

5. Ryu, Street Fighter

At fifth from the bottom is the main character of the Street Fighter series, Ryu, who would bring home just $28,212 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 ‘plentiful’ in Japanese, the same cannot be said for his expected salary.

Where does your favorite character rank? See the complete list, here. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

About The Author

Contributing Journalist

Bryson "Boom" Paul is a well-known journalist and media correspondent. He has written for OC Weekly, LA Weekly, Dallas Observer, Hip Hop DX and more. Throughout 13-plus years, he has interviewed the biggest names in music, like Tyler the Creator, 50 Cent and Sean Paul.

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