“It’ll be fun,” they said. “It will help us learn to communicate and cooperate better,” they said.

And so began my daughters’ latest campaign to get me to buy them yet another game, as though I didn’t just buy them Human: Fall Flat, plus a subscription to Animal Jam, and a bunch of Poké Balls. For these reasons alone, I could have just said no, but it’s only a matter of time before they realize I have a huge list of games I’ve purchased but not yet played. I don’t always want to be their clearest definition of the word “hypocrite” when it comes to the things I deny them as a parent.

Besides, my kids are preteens now, and soon they are going to hate me on a regular basis. I need to embrace every opportunity to spend time with them. Even time that, based on our research into Red and iHasCupquake’s playthrough of Overcooked, seems to involve a whole lot of screaming at each other and flailing. Yet my kids assured me that it wouldn’t be that way with us.

My kids are liars.

As usual, the game lulls you into a false sense of security with a fairly simple first level. Make a nice onion soup. Chop three onions. Put them in the pot. Dish it out. Serve it. Wash the dishes. Repeat.

We quickly learned that each of us being responsible for a separate task was the way to go, and we earned our three stars on the first round. That was the end of our peaceful Overcooked experience.

Subsequent levels introduce more horrid elements like pedestrians, new food combinations, shifting tables, ingredient-stealing vermin, fireballs, outer space, and slippery ice. Oh and if you aren’t attentive enough—or can’t access the stove because you’ve fallen off of a moving food truck—then there’s a good chance something’s going to catch fire. All of this with a clock in the corner ominously ticking down, and orders popping up at the top, demanding to be filled.
Screenshot of disaster in Overcooked! Overcooked!, Ghost Town Games, Team17, 2016.

Our attempt at structured gameplay often went awry, and our unique temperaments quickly rose to the surface. Me, the impatient mom, my youngest, the diligent worker, trying her hardest to keep us in line, and my trolling eldest daughter. While we did achieve several more three-star levels, our first session ended with a big headache for me, sisters hating each other, and me yelling at them to get to bed.

Usually, come morning, we’re all recovered from our bouts of grumpiness, and can enjoy a good morning cuddle. This was indeed the case. However, we had not expected the game to affect us in other ways. So when it came time to make dinner that evening, there was a lot more yelling and throwing things at each other in the kitchen than usual.

But thankfully, there were no fires.

Read the rest of the Gamer Mom series.