This past week, Stanford’s Institution for Applied and Theoretical Video Game Research met for its 92nd annual conference, with scholars and academics from around the world gathering on campus to answer one critical question: what the hell is Toad from Mario even supposed to be?
Disagreement over the topic quickly reached a boiling point, however, with a fist-fight breaking out on the conference room floor within 15 minutes of the opening ceremony; the violence lasted six consecutive hours.
The root of the conflict was a long-running dispute between two competing schools of thought on the incredibly critical question of what the hell Toad — a small mushroom-esque character first introduced in the game Super Mario Bros. — is actually supposed to be. On one side are the Fungusites, who hold that Toad is a sentient fungus organism, or are at least has a symbiotic relationship with a fungus. On the other is that Hatites, who cite an infamous scene from the 1980’s Super Mario Cartoon showing Toad taking off his “cap” as evidence that the mushroom head is actually just a hat.
“There is not an ounce of fungus on Toad,” Hatite visionary Tom Tomson is quoted as having said in the tense moments leading up to the bloodshed. “Toads are just exceptionally ugly balding people whose culture involves wearing mushroom hats for some reason.”
“Preposterous!,” Fungusite academic Jemma Goert reportedly yelled back before throwing a punch at Tomson. Rumors have since spread that, in the ensuing brawl, both sides utilized medieval weaponry they’d stored in conference bathrooms ahead of time, Godfather style, suggesting that the violence was premeditated.
It is unclear at this point whether plans for next year’s 93rd meeting of the Institution, which was tentatively focused on Sonic the Hedgehog’s religious identity, will still go forward.