12.16.08

Real-Life Mario Kart and Other Crazy YouTube Stunts

If you worry your kid's video game habit is sapping his ambition, take heart in these YouTube creations from gamers who’ve turned their obsession into art.

I play video games like a girl—by which I mean, I kick ass at most of them. The games that appeal to me are those that go beyond a hand controller and actually get you jumping, flailing and spinning like a lunatic. So you can imagine my joy when I stumbled upon the latest YouTube mini-trend: outrageous and creative clips that reenact video games in the real world, with actual people in the roles of the famous digital characters. From Mario Karting through the streets of France to Ponging around a Swiss auditorium, these homages were created by true fans. Now who wants to get pummeled at Rock Band?

1. The Original Human Pong Performance by Guillaume Reymond

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Swiss artist Guillaume Reymond won the 2007 YouTube Creativity Award for his series of stop-motion animation projects reviving old video games. The project began with Pong, followed by Space Invaders, Pole Position, and Tetris. To represent pixels, he uses human beings, moving them from seat to seat in an auditorium. Recently, Reymond expanded his scope beyond videos to recreate Transformers characters using trucks and other large vehicles.

2. Guitar Hero Bicycle Stunt

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What do you get when you mix video game obsession with the excess free time of suburban youth? This Guitar Hero tribute—and it will blow your mind. I don’t even want to know how many takes it took these guys to create this real-life replica of the music video game in which players use a guitar-shaped device to play multi-colored “notes” as they appear on the screen—according to the creators, it was “a lot.” It’s so well done that there’s been speculation that this video was actually professionally produced in a viral marketing effort by Guitar Hero.

3. Real-Life Mario Kart

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Oh, Mario Kart, how do I love thee? In this video, Remi Gaillard, French prankster and performance artist, careens through the streets of France in a white-knuckled real-life version of the Nintendo racing game. With banana peel weaponry, a go-kart, a fake moustache, and the full range of sound effects, Gaillard reenacts the game in hilarious, bold, and, I would argue, heroic fashion in a country where many people drive as if they were in a French Connection chase scene.

4. Mega 64

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If you see a guy hopping down the street in a Super Mario Bros. costume, there’s a good chance you’re being filmed (unless you’re in Times Square or Venice Beach, in which case it’s business as usual.) Mega64 is a series of low-budget, DIY comedy sketches that reenact video games on the streets of San Diego. Co-creator Derrick Acosta describes it as " Jackass with video games.” The characters interact with innocent bystanders who are understandably peeved, amused or freaked out. In a coup, they even managed to get Nintendo creator Shigeru Miyamoto in on the act.

5. Human Tetris

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You know the world is running dry on ideas when Human Tetris appears on TV. In this Japanese game show, Hole in the Wall, contestants contort their bodies into improbable shapes to try to fit through a human-sized cut-out in a moving wall. If they aren’t able to fit through the hole, they’re tossed ass-backwards into a pool of water. These clips became such sensations on YouTube that the Fox network debuted an American version in September. It was pulled due to poor ratings, but the Japanese version remains a massive viral phenomenon.

Randi Zuckerberg works in marketing at Facebook, where she leads the company’s election strategy and has pioneered several large media partnerships. Included in The Hollywood Reporter’s 2008 Digital Power List, she is also a founder of The Dot Comix, an online video troupe that creates satirical videos about technology and geek culture.