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One of the most popular driving games is Mario Kart. It’s not the most realistic, the most adrenalizing, or the biggest world. But, it’s beloved by virtual drivers of all ages. I will sit down and play Mario Kart anytime, anywhere—just hand me a controller. But, there’s a crazy story swirling around about whether Nintendo will ban female characters in video games, specifically Mario Kart 8. Will ‘Kart enthusiasts lose some of the best female Nintendo characters?

Will Nintendo kill off its female characters after a Saudi Arabia investment?

A trio of Mario Kart enthusiasts play the game wearing Mario and Luigi costumes at Comic Con 2018.
Playing Mario Kart at Comic-Con | Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Nintendo

This question has been spreading across the internet like wildfire in the last few weeks. Gaming fans have been in an uproar over the possible removal of favorite female drivers like Princess Peace, Dixie Kong, and Toadette.

Fortunately, prominent myth-busting website Snopes weighed in on the issue, and the rumor is not true. Snopes has officially labeled the claim of “Nintendo is banning female characters from driving in the Mario Kart game due to Saudi investment” as Satire. Rather than receiving a simple “True” or “False” rating, this story is a bit more complicated.

But, rest assured that you’ll still be able to find plenty of Nintendo Switch driving games with female characters.

The rumor about Nintendo’s female characters started on a satire site

“Following today’s news that Saudi Arabia now controls 5% of its shares after making a nearly three billion dollar investment, Nintendo has announced that female characters are now banned from driving in Mario Kart 8.”

Mark Roebuck, Hard Drive

So, where did this absurd story get its start? You may not be surprised to learn that it was born on a satire site. Hard Drive, per their website, is “a very real video games news site that you should not question. Just absorb the information as truth and move on.” That comical bit should tell you everything you need to know about the truth behind this Nintendo claim. 

Female video game characters are alive and well on Mario Kart 8, but there may be a dark seed of concern buried under the funny facade.

Saudi Arabia’s investment may still be problematic

Close-up of a Nintendo Switch video game console showing multiple favorite Nintendo video games, including Mario Kart. Are Nintendo female characters disappearing?
Nintendo Switch with Mario Kart | Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has taken a 5.01% stake in the Nintendo company, according to Bloomberg. The fund claims the purchase of the shares was simply for investment purposes, and this wasn’t its first buy-in to video game or e-sports companies. PIF also owns a 5+% stake in Capcom Co—the company that makes Resident Evil and Street Fighter games—and Necon Co., a provider of online games.

While female video game characters won’t be disappearing from Nintendo games based on this partnership alone, there may still be some backlash to the company’s new major player. Saudi Arabia only granted women the legal right to drive in 2018, and it’s been accused of many human rights violations over the years. 

The world of e-sports and video games is exploding and is fast becoming a multi-billion dollar industry. However, the people who play the most video games tend to be Millennials and Gen Z—some of the most socially conscious generations. Partnering up with firms from problematic countries may cause issues. But, at least Nintendo female characters aren’t on the chopping block.

What female characters drive in Nintendo’s Mario Kart? 

A small figurine of Princess Peach, one of the best female Nintendo characters,  standing in between Mario and Luigi figurines
Mario, Princess Peach, and Luigi figurines | Ryan Quintal via Unsplash

Let’s end on a positive note. What female characters can get behind the wheel in Mario Kart 8, one of the five best driving video games in history? 

  • Princess Peach
  • Princess Daisy
  • Rosalina
  • Cat Peach
  • Toadette
  • Baby Peach
  • Pink Gold Peach
  • Baby Rosalina
  • Wendy
  • Baby Daisy
  • Inkling Girl
  • Villager female
  • Isabelle

I did actually have to Google “is Yoshi a girl” because I wasn’t sure. Fun fact: Yoshi can produce asexually, so they are neither male nor female. That is progressive as hell. Right on, Nintendo.

Which are your favorite strong female Nintendo characters? 


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