Drinks It Took to Make Me Bad at Mario Kart 8

I like drinking. I also like playing games. I love it when they intersect. Mario Kart is probably one of the best games to adapt as a drinking game simply because it's versatile, and as you drink you're more likely to screw up and have to take more drinks. One deliciously intoxicating feedback loop.

This past weekend, while visiting a few old high school friends, and talking about the cocktail of booze and video games, I mentioned that I hadn't had a chance to play Mario Kart 8 yet. I've been meaning to, but I've been far too busy to play and far too strapped to drop the $50. When they offered to let me stay the night at their place drinkin' and racin', I couldn't turn them down.


I started with a shot of whiskey, before downing some Jäger and Monster. Classy, right? Using one of the many online BAC calculators, I was probably in the 0.04-5 range.

I had a good buzz going, and we tried a few maps to get me acclimated to the game. Seeing Kirk's article from the other day, I opted to start with Mount Wario. I took first place by quite a decent margin. Next, we tried the Royal Raceway, followed by Donut Plains. Again, even with three other experienced human players, I had a commanding lead. If we'd been driving actual cars, I'd be looking at three times the risk of an accident as I otherwise would.

My friends had an idea. They had some bottom-shelf vodka they wanted to clean out. Since the liquor stores were already closed, and I'm a bit of a heavy weight, they suggested I down the remaining vodka to see how bad I'd get. I agreed to do it for a dollar, because I make the best decisions. After struggling to hold down what felt like boiling tar loosely resembling vodka for a few minutes, I was ready to keep racing. We stepped the difficulty up to 150cc and settled on the Lightning Cup.

My decline was rapid but gradual. I went from first, to fifth, to sixth, and finally to 9th. Towards the end I had a lot of trouble concentrating and I couldn't go more than a few hundred feet without falling off the stage. I hit walls often, and was completely off when it came to timing the "rocket start". As far as I can tell, my BAC at that point was close to 0.19. If I had been driving for real, my risk of an accident would be almost 30 times greater.

If anything, this was a good lesson in how much harder real world driving is. And while I don't want to get too Public Service Announcement-y, the risk you face when drinking in driving really is disturbing. Three drinks in and the average American woman would face a four-fold increase in accident risk. Your average man has a slightly higher tolerance (mostly because they are heavier), but the danger really does increase exponentially. If you're downing beer or champagne, you've also got to be a bit more careful, because carbonation increases the rate of alcohol absorption.

Cautionary note aside, if you're looking to make your next Mario Kart race a bit more alcoholic, you can try these rules my friends and I typically use:

  • For the first few races, you must finish your drink before you can use both hands to drive.
  • Take a drink when you fall off the stage.
  • Drink while using any item.
  • Take two drinks when you use a red shell.
  • Take an extra four drinks if you use a blue shell.
  • Whoever wins the race gets to come up with a new rule.

These have always served me well, but I stress that responsible consumption is important. Be sure to squeeze extra water in there to stay hydrated, and for the love of god don't ever play this game and go out driving. Seriously.

You're reading Numbers, a blog on Kotaku that examines games and culture through the lens of math and statistics. To contact the author of this post, write to dancstarkey@gmail.com or find him on Twitter @dcstarkey.