• Mario Kart responsible for a 33% increase in heart rate
  • FIFA Soccer and Call of Duty also cause increased HR
  • Exploration games linked to improving stress levels

Mario Kart has been ranked the number one game for getting pulses racing, according to a new study. 

The research put experienced gamers to the test to uncover the most demanding video games on the market, with results showing that Mario Kart produces a 32.81 percent increase in heart rate over a 30-minute period.

Using heart rate monitors to test their reactions, the research conducted by BonusFinder, found that playing the legendary racing game elevated their pulse by an average of 21 beats per minute, raising the average resting heart rate from 64 BPM to 85 BPM. 

The game’s 30 percent increase in heart rate is equivalent to nearly half of the target increase in heart rate when exercising, and is physically equal to going for a gentle walk. 

Research was undertaken with 14 participants playing 16 of the most popular and challenging console, PC, and mobile games presently available. The participants, who were selected, were used to playing a minimum of 15 hours a week and were familiar with the video games that were used as a part of the study.

According to the findings, the other games that made it into the top 5 alongside Mario Kart were FIFA Soccer (31%), Call of Duty (30%), Dark Souls (28%), and Fortnite (27%).

Elsewhere, the research also uncovered that certain video games were able to reduce heart rates and stress levels.

Animal Crossing, The Sims, and Skyrim were all found to lower participant average heart rates throughout the course of a 30-minute session, by as much as 5 percent. This would explain their popularity, as while competing to win games can be very fun and rewarding, sometimes all we want to do after a hard day’s work is unwind, explore and de-stress.

Fintan Costello, Managing Director at BonusFinder, said: “If you are looking for a timeless classic, Mario Kart remains a fan favorite even after three decades.

“What the study highlights is quite remarkable, despite all the newcomers with improved graphics and increased spending, the old Nintendo formula is still irresistible to gamers and nothing can replace the jeopardy of a red shell on the last lap of a race.

“It’s interesting to see in so many of these games, the increase in heart rate is equivalent to doing light exercise, which might explain why it feels like it takes plenty of energy out of those playing them.”

You can find the full study here: https://www.bonusfinder.com/about-us/blog/most-stressful-video-games-to-play.

Mario Kart 9 isn’t expected until 2024. Mario Kart 8 was released in 2014, so we’re nearing the eighth anniversary of that title. It has since been ported to the Nintendo Switch, released April 28th, 2017.


BonusFinder sourced 14 gamers who stated they were highly engaged in video games, played for at least 15 hours per week, and were familiar with the titles in our shortlist.

Each gamer wore heart rate monitors that tracked their heart rates over time and allowed for the collection of data via a bulk export.

We measured resting heart rates for baseline comparison and recorded heart rates at 10 second intervals for each gamer.

The data was averaged out across all participants who played each game to ensure no outliers or anomalies skewed the results.

While we had multiple peaks in heart rates, for the purpose of this study we took the highest peak of each participant per game, then averaged this out across the total number of participants (14) to get our final figure.

The full list of games played for a maximum of 30 minutes were:

  • Mario Kart
  • FIFA 20
  • Call of Duty (Modern Warfare)
  • Dark Souls III
  • Fortnite
  • DOOM
  • Fall Guys
  • Battlefield V
  • Street Fighter
  • Among Us
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • UNO!
  • The Sims
  • Animal Crossing
  • Minecraft
  • Skyrim


SCIFI Radio Staff
SCIFI Radio Staff

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