“I’ll Do It!” : Working Through Anxiety with Luigi

Hollis Beck
11 min readFeb 27, 2020

This article was originally written in May of 2015 and may be updated in the future.

Peach, Mario, Luigi, and Toad meet a Sprixie

In the opening scene of “Super Mario 3D World,” the player gets a glimpse of the game’s four heroes and some good insight on their personalities. Bowser’s at it again, only this time he’s kidnapped seven magical princesses called Sprixies and dominated each of their castles. After Bowser dives down a mysterious warp pipe, captured Sprixie in tow, our heroes follow thusly: Peach, clumsy damsel that she is, falls into the pipe by accident; Mario and Toad, selfless hero and devoted flunky respectively, jump in after her without hesitation.

The last character to go down the warp pipe is Luigi. It seemed to me like he’d realized that he has been left alone, and that thought scared him more than the possible danger that lay in store before him.

I have been grappling with the fact that I have some deep-seated anxiety issues that have been a part of me for so long that I never even noticed they were there. As of writing this article, I am on no medication and I have no therapist. I know I should look for one, but the old excuses — money, time fear of the unknown — have kept me from doing so. Also, my brain has not fully accepted that help is necessary. I have gotten very good at managing my anxiety by myself. My friends help. Doing things I think are useful to others helps. And most of the time, video games help.

However, I find it hard to identify with most video game heroes. They’re created to be strong, fearless, unsinkable. Mario, for example, puts himself in danger daily, no questions asked. Why? Does he do it for glory? Fame? A chance to save Peach’s sweet ass one more time? A selfless hero’s motives always feel suspicious to me. There has to be something they’re getting out of saving the day so much.

That being said, I feel a certain amount of affection toward the other Mario brother. The shy one, the simple one, the awkward one. When I think about the kind of hero I want to be, I think about Luigi.

Hollis Beck

Hollis Beck is a playwright and voice artist who crafts narratives about found family, queer identity, and people who try very hard.