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1. Mario Is a Referee
The early days of the NES were bleakly realistic about Mario. That’s because those games seemed to understand that plumbers don’t get paid nearly enough money, especially when they spend so much time in the Mushroom Kingdom.
So Mario just kept popping up in other games. He is a referee in Punch-Out! and an umpire in Tennis. Hell, he even spends time as a fake doctor to sell you “mega vitamins.” Someone get this poor man a Patreon!
2. Spider-Man Delivers Pizzas
In the Spider-Man 2 movie, we see that young Peter Parker has to deliver pizzas to help pay for his rent. And the Spider-Man 2 video game (which holds up surprisingly well) offers pizza delivery missions to help you replicate the experience.
In terms of gameplay, these missions are pretty fun. But it’s still heartbreaking to see how a guy who has saved countless lives is just one botched delivery away from losing his job and being thrust out into the street.
3. Darth Revan Becomes a Smuggler
In Knights of the Old Republic, the big reveal (spoilers for an old game, kids) is that your character is actually a mindwiped Darth Revan. It makes for a great plot twist, but finding out also makes your other missions seem funny by comparison.
For example, you get the occasional offer to help smuggler drugs and other things from point X to point Y. It’s a good way to make some quick credits, but this is basically like watching Darth Vader do Han Solo-style gruntwork to make his ends meet.
4. Become An Assassin for Hire in World of Warcraft
It’s kind of a running joke that there are really only so many kinds of quests in World of Warcraft. Most of them boil down to “go deliver this random crap” and “go kill these guys for me.”
It’s played pretty light, but there are some dark implications for that second kind of quest. Even the “good” characters become murderers for hire. Sometimes, you are killing one guy, and other times, you are obliterating an entire Murloc clan, and it’s usually just so some jackass can put their eyeballs in his weirdo stew recipe.
5. Insurance Fraud in Saints Row
They say if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. If that logic applies to side hustles, then the best job in the world is probably the insurance fraud minigame in Saints Row.
If you haven’t experienced this, it works pretty much like you’d expect: your character throws himself in front of cars to collect insurance money. It is crazy and played for laughs, but this minigame may represent one of the craziest ways game characters try to scrounge up some extra cash.
6. Tidus the Blitzball Champion
What was the worst part of Final Fantasy X? If you said “playing Blitzball,” then go ahead and give yourself a cookie.
Blitzball is a confusing game with terrible controls. You don’t have to play much of it, but you can optionally recruit new players and play games for prizes, including Wakka’s ultimate weapon. But we just can’t get over the fact that Tidus is facing the literal end of the world and still has time to focus on putting together the ultimate Blitzball league.
7. Geralt Becomes a Pro Gwent Player
In Witcher 3, Gwent is a little card game you can play to pass the time. And it became so popular that it was eventually released as a standalone game for players.
But as fun, as Gwent is, we can’t get over how funny it is that Geralt can effectively become a Gwent pro throughout the game. Apparently being a Witcher and saving lives doesn’t pay nearly enough, so poor Geralt has to stop fighting monsters to go win himself some extra gold.
8. Claude Drives Cabs
In Grand Theft Auto III, you play the character of Claude. And the game follows his story as he escapes police custody and then achieves a place of prominence in Liberty City’s underworld.
And this game had plenty of side games, including the ability to steal a cab and deliver people to their destinations for some extra cash. Years before Uber or Lyft was a thing, this game gave us a glimpse of our gig economy future.
9. Cloud Strife Becomes a Mercenary Terrorist
The plot of Final Fantasy 7 has always been insane, and the remake is making it even weirder. But some of the early craziness centers around Cloud Strife’s mercenary line of work.
Cloud considers himself a mercenary for hire, and he has no problem working for Avalanche and blowing things up in Midgar. But keep in mind that Avalanche is very much a terrorist group. Cloud is basically the kind of guy that would help Osama bin Laden plan the 9/11 attack if the price was right, and this dude is our hero!
10. Become a Card Sharp in Red Dead Redemption
There are some fun minigames in Red Dead Redemption 1 and 2. But in our humble opinion, nothing beats the fun of playing poker.
Both games allow you to play some fairly intense rounds of poker, and the first game even gives you the option to cheat. While cowboys playing poker is definitely a fun genre trope, this is a bit like Geralt playing Gwent: it’s weird to see a character that countless lives depend on our protagonist dropping everything to try his luck in the nearby saloon.