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The Toadstool Exchange: An Examination of 5 Video Game Currencies

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Most of us will spend a great deal of real money on video games, wherein we can spend a great deal of fictional money—only for much cooler things that are more likely to explode. Here are five video game currencies, a general appraisal of their respective economic outlooks, and an indexed exchange rate for aggressive interstellar and inter-dimensional travelers.

1. Coin (Mario)

The Mushroom Kingdom’s established currency is the gold coin. Despite permanent siege conditions brought upon by the Koopas, and the frequency with which the ruling monarch is kidnapped, the purchasing power of the coin has remained astonishingly consistent. One hundred (100) coins have purchased exactly one (1) resurrection since at least 1985. Still, it’s clear that the realm of Toadstool has endured much hardship since the start of the war. Consider the abundance of bricks throughout the kingdom. They are clearly of very poor quality and extremely fragile. (The punch of a fully grown adult can generally shatter most bricks into dust.) More importantly, the bricks suggest numerous abandoned construction projects. Infrastructure upgrades are essential to maintaining any modern state. Under the reign of HRH Peach, Princess of the Mushroom Kingdom, few if any such projects have been witnessed.

While Her Majesty has been preoccupied with the ongoing conflict with Lord Bowser, King of the Koopas, her dominion has begun to crumble around her. Such hazards as open pipes, gaping crevices filled with lava, and dilapidated, reportedly haunted mansions present ongoing challenges not only for residents of the Mushroom Kingdom, but also its Italian foot soldiers.

2. Rupee (Zelda)

Like the Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule is plagued with conflict, here in the form of a sorcerer desperate for an ancient relic owned by the ruling family. Unlike the Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule’s dominant currency is a gem, as opposed to a precious metal. The turbulence of life in the kingdom appears not to have unnerved its citizens. This is perhaps because of the rustic nature of Hyrule—the people are simply too far removed from the situation to worry. At any rate, swords and armor are a part of everyday life. A people comfortable with fighting octoroks while plowing the fields are hearty enough to handle attempted burglaries against its monarchy.

From the earliest recorded history (i.e., the forging of the Master Sword during the so-called Skyward Sword saga) through the telling of the Legend of Zelda, one crafted item has remained largely unchanged: the small wooden shield. Time has neither diminished its utility nor limited its availability in general goods stores. This gives us some idea of the state of Hyrule’s economy. The cost of one (1) wooden shield has increased more than 200% over the years, rising from 50 to an astonishing 160 rupees. Because of such items as magic ocarinas, time is a relative construct in Hyrule, and it is impossible to determine the actual age of the kingdom. As such, standard models fail us. But clearly the purchasing power of the rupee has diminished over time. Notably, a decade after the final slaying of Ganon—whereupon Link set off on his final adventure—there is no evidence of shops or rupees at all, suggesting ultimately a catastrophic economic collapse. Considering the stress put on Hyrule by external forces since its founding, this is hardly surprising. (The Mushroom Kingdom would do well to learn from this tragedy.)

If, in fact, the rupee collapses entirely, it would not be without precedent. In Hungary following World War II, for example, the Pengo to Forint exchange reached four hundred octillion to one (400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1).

3. Bottle Caps (Fallout)

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Regardless of whether Hyrule suffered a devastating economic collapse, or the Mushroom Kingdom is ultimately conquered or destroyed by the Koopas, survivors can take some comfort that new currency and economies will rise. Post-war Europe is an obvious example (see: the Danzig gulden), but another notable case is the fallout-washed post-apocalyptic American wasteland. There, bottle caps became the successful, stable currency. Though crafts aren’t often negotiable currency but in the strictest of senses (i.e., bartering, but even then with little consistency—see: Craigslist), it’s not a wholly alien concept. In the early 20th century, one Congolese Katanga Cross would buy you six chickens. In West Africa in the 1880s, two Kissi pennies (six-inch, crafted iron rods) could buy a bunch of bananas; two thousand could score you a cow.

Under the circumstances of a thermonuclear apocalypse, bottle caps are as good a currency as any. They are plentiful but limited, geographically well-dispersed, culturally acceptable, difficult to counterfeit, and sufficiently durable. Just as gold is valuable because we’ve all decided to agree that gold is valuable, so too might a cap rush sweep the irradiated post-industrial-pre-industrial continent. When the first dweller of underground Vault 13 emerged in the mid-22nd century, 20 caps could buy one (1) Iguana-on-a-stick. A century later, travelers from Vault 101 would report that iguanas-on-a-stick cost a mere 5 caps. As no living iguana was ever actually seen in the wild during that era, there’s no evidence of a population increase. The price should more or less reflect the performance of the cap, which is pretty good considering the mutants, zombies, and slavers. And there is reason for optimism: President John Henry Eden has promised to devote his administration to rebuilding American infrastructure. And when John Henry Eden builds a country, he builds it to last.

4. UAC Credit (Doom)

Weapons manufacturer Union Aerospace Corporation initially showed great promise as an economic savior to war-torn 22nd-century Earth. A working, stable system of teleportation would have physically connected humanity in much the same way that the Internet virtually connected us. All barriers to trade and social interaction would have been annihilated. Misuse of teleportation technology would have been deterred by a kind of mutually assured destruction (for example, send your army to my capital and I’ll send a nuclear bomb to yours). Likewise, UAC’s tremendous work in establishing self-sustaining colonies on Mars and various moons in the solar system seemed at first to diversify the human supply chain. Then its scientists accidentally opened a gate to hell and destroyed humanity and bunnies alike.

The sheer scale of UAC investments and enterprise, as well as the company’s reliability in volatile times, made it well suited to issuing its own currency, called the UAC Credit. This is not as unusual as it might sound. As matters of convenience, scrips (as private currencies are called) were once used extensively by companies whose activities were located in remote areas. Lumber and mining camps, for instance, would sometimes pay employees with private currency that could be redeemed at company-owned commissaries and exchanges. Similarly, even today, U.S. service members will be familiar with Pogs—small, printed cardboard disks used in combat zones in place of coinage (which is too heavy to transport overseas in meaningful supply). Pogs can be spent or exchanged on any U.S. military installation in the world.

5. Gold (World of Warcraft)

Immediately after the Fall of Stormwind, a strict feudal system seems to grip Azeroth, with lords and ladies providing everything his or her vassals might need. Whether this is an aberration is unclear, but the defeat of such an ancient civilization would clearly have dire economic consequences. Azeroth would soon see historic growth, however, brought upon by untapped and readily accessible veins of gold. Villages were constructed adjacent to gold mines, each of which produced up to 30,000 nuggets even under the less-than-ideal conditions of total warfare. The next two decades would parallel the California Gold Rush of 1848, which infused the global economy with renewed vigor. Twenty-five years after the Azeroth rush and the rebuilding of Stormwind City (later called New Stormwind), the economy reached equilibrium, backed by gold and protected by occasionally organized guilds and factions. The paucity of gold for new adventurers would suggest that the supply was either seized by hostile invaders during the First and Second Wars, or surreptitiously hoarded by the ruling class. As evidenced by the recently remodeled Stormwind Keep, to ask the question is to answer it.

The Toadstool Exchange

The tremendous number of portals, teleportation devices, spells, atomic anomalies, and magic flutes means that truly aggressive adventurers might find themselves in strange lands. For this reason, it might be useful to build a rudimentary exchange, so that a Koopa Troopa knows what to expect, at least monetarily, on Mars. Ideally, we could build an index from the price of an identical item in every world, and thus determine the purchase power parity of the various currencies. One famous example of this is the Big Mac Index, calculated annually by The Economist. (The Big Mac is well suited to such purposes because of its practical nature, and because of the cross-section of industries that go into its creation, from dairy farming to intermodal freight transport.)

Realistically, there’s no precise overlap in goods available for purchase in both Hyrule and Azeroth. However, there is one item of general equivalence found almost everywhere: the simple explosive. Using the least-expensive non-magical explosive available in general goods stores across the board, we can estimate the relative value of currencies. (Added in this index, but not discussed at length, are the Gil, used on Gaia, and the Simoleon, the currency of SimNation.)

In Seaside Town in the Mushroom Kingdom, one (1) Fire Bomb can be purchased for 200 coins (200MK).
*
A shop on the eastern coast in Hyrule sells one (1) bomb for 20 rupees (20HR).
*
One (1) Rough Copper Bomb can be purchased in Azeroth for 2 silver, 40 copper (0.024AG).
*
The going rate for one (1) grenade in the Sector 7 Slums of Midgar in Gaia is 80 Gils (80GG).
*
UAC vending machines on Mars sell three (3) rockets for 10 credits (3.33UC).
*
Shops in Pleasantview will sell one (1) Sky Scorcher rocket for 90 Simoleons (90SS). (N.B.: While not a weapon per se, like everything else in Pleasantview it’s likely to destroy property and/or kill someone upon usage.)
*
One (1) fragmentation grenade from Fort Independence in the Capital Wasteland sells for 25 bottle caps (25CW).
*
In the United States today, one (1) hand grenade costs the U.S. Army $27.64 (27.64US).**

Constructed:

200MK = 20HR = .024AG = 80GG = 3.33UC = 90SS = 25CW = 27.64US

Reduced, valuation based on the cap:

8MK = .8HR = .000096AG = 3.2GG = .1332UC = 3.6SS = 1CW = 1.1056

**(N.B.: As such grenades are purchased in bulk and not available for general purchase, this is a poor indicator of value, which would be much greater on the street. It’s staggering, however, to see how closely the price compares with the bottle cap. We can extrapolate from this that once the radioactive dust settles following total thermonuclear war, the tens of thousands of grenades presently in the property of the U.S. Army will flood the market and drive down prices. If this is correct (and it’s very difficult to say, obviously), we can also deduce that the government is therefore getting a pretty fair value.)

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.

1. THREE IN FOUR AMERICANS BELIEVE IN THE PARANORMAL (2005)

According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.

2. ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS THINK THE SUN REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH (1999)

In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.

3. 22 PERCENT OF AMERICANS ARE HESITANT TO SUPPORT A MORMON (2011)

Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.

4. MISSISSIPPIANS GO TO CHURCH THE MOST; VERMONTERS THE LEAST (2010)

This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.

5. ONE IN FOUR AMERICANS DON’T KNOW WHICH COUNTRY AMERICA GAINED INDEPENDENCE FROM (1999)

Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.

6. ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GHOSTS (2000)

This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.

7. 5 PERCENT OF WORKING MILLENNIALS THRIVE IN ALL FIVE ELEMENTS OF WELL-BEING (2016)

This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.

8. THE WORLD IS BECOMING SLIGHTLY MORE NEGATIVE (2014)

If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”

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