For Labor Day: The 5 Hardest Working Video Game Characters

Think you’ve got a crummy job? Trying spending a day in the shoes of your average video game character. Bad bosses, boring tasks and long commutes have nothing on the threat of constant death, reassignment for adultery, everlasting turmoil or inability to ever stop oneself from taking new jobs.

This Labor Day, we’re celebrating the hard working, real world labor force being battered by the economic downturn, with a look at their virtual counterparts who know what real work really looks like. Here are the 5 Hardest Working Video Game Characters.

5) Cole Phelps (L.A. Noire)

Sure, Cole Phelps seems to have it easy. After totally botching his command during WWII (and getting a lot of innocent people killed in the process), instead of being punished, he received a Silver Star. This got him a sweet entry-level job with the LAPD and in 1947, after solving a single case, he was promoted to Detective.

But Cole didn’t sit on his Laurels. In just over 1 year’s time, he stopped a pedophile ring, arrested and killed numerous random criminals, drove every single car in Los Angeles, solved a series of vicious murders, busted a major drug ring, stopped a corrupt psychologist and got to the bottom of an arson-fraud scam. And he still found time to cheat on his wife and get himself publicly humiliated. That’s a man who doesn’t know how to take a vacation.

Maybe LA Noire would have ended differently had Cole simply taken a break to clear his head once in a while. This Labor Day, we’d like to imagine an alternate universe in which he did – we bet Cole would have decided to leave the LAPD to pursue a political career instead.

4) The Red Faction (Red Faction Series)

Mars sounds, in theory, like awesomness in a bottle. It has light gravity and amazing geography and let’s face it, it’s another freakin’ planet! It’s also cold, barren and really far away from Earth. Plus, if the Red Faction series can be trusted, pretty much the only work available is mining, which is what the members of the titular Red Faction do for a living. Endless, back-breaking work burrowing deep into the Martian crust looking for minerals that will simply be shipped back to Earth at a serious loss.

And what do the miners get for their trouble? Enslavement by the Ultor Corporation, followed by oppression by a corrupt military regime bent on making them nothing more than poorly-paid mules at the service of an increasingly despotic Earth. So they have no choice but to revolt. And now they have 2 jobs. Mining, and constantly using your heavy-ass mining equipment to fight the better-equipped military because you don’t have any guns. So that’s 50% back-breaking labor, 50% death-risking behavior. 0% R&R.

This labor day, these guys need to take a well-deserved break, stock up on hot dogs, and just once find out what life in low G is like without having to dig or shoot all the time.

3) The Keepers (Mass Effect)

Once upon a time, perhaps millions of years ago, The Keepers were an average, ordinary race of space flight achieving aliens with a galaxy-spanning culture. Unfortunately, they live in the Mass Effect universe, which means that every 50,000 years or so, a race of space-Cthulu-robots called Reapers arrive on the scene to destroy whatever civilization has managed to spread across the galaxy and do… unspeakable things to the survivors.

The Reapers could have turned the Keepers into elite soldiers. Hell, they could have repurposed them as space-sperm for a new generation of Reapers. But nope, instead they turned the Keepers into a race of mindless automatons whose sole purpose in life is to maintain and repair the biggest space station in the galaxy.

That’s right. They turned them into space janitors who literally never get a day off. That’s cold, even by the standards of genocidal robots. Just once, the Keepers need to take a day off and relax; Here’s hoping Mass Effect 3 ends with a gigantic contract negotiation that sees them getting centuries of unused vacation days.

2) Gordon Freeman (half-Life)

Imagine that you want to become a theoretical physicist. You devote your high school career to getting absolutely excellent grades, especially the sciences and mathematics. Next, you spend the next 8 to 15 years toiling away in college in order to earn the Doctorate required to finally be able to call yourself a scientist. And it pays off! You get the job of your dreams, conducting top secret research at the prestigious Black Mesa Research Facility. Huzzah!

But uh-oh. The experiment you’re working on opens up a dimensional gateway. Now your job description includes “welcoming thousands of terrifying hell creatures bent on killing everything they see”. Awesome. Now, you have about 30 hours to become totally expert in numerous survival and combat techniques that usually require more than a decade of rigorous training. And yet you pull it off and more than that, you totally survive. Wow. Except, whoopsie, the entire planet has been taken over by interdimensional warlords. So now you have to become a revolutionary on top of already being a highly educated scientist and deadly warrior.

Congratulations. You’re Half-Life‘s Gordon Freeman. Scientist. Soldier. Revolutionary. Alien killing machine. If ever someone needed a giant damned vacation with beers and BBQing, it’s this guy.

1) Mario

Aaaaand at number one, it’s Nintendo’s infatigable super-powered plumber, Mario. An indisputable workaholic, he has literally worn more hats than any other character in the history of gaming. He began his career as as an animal control officer, instrumental the capture of escaped gorilla Donkey Kong. He then formed a plumbing business with his brother Luigi. Soon after, he enlisted into the special forces of the Mushroom Kingdom, where he quickly rose to chief defender of the realm.

If constantly saving the Mushroom kingdom from invading turtles wasn’t enough to do, Mario moonlights constantly. Among his seemingly countless jobs, he’s been a boxing coach, a doctor, a building contractor, a Formula One racing official, a professional tennis player, a painter, and even a party host. No wonder then that he constantly needs power up food items to stay alert.

This Labor Day, more than anyone else, Mario deserves to clock out, turn off the cell phone and spend the day grilling mushrooms.

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

1 Comment on For Labor Day: The 5 Hardest Working Video Game Characters


On September 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm

gordon freeman!