We’re getting into hibernating season up here in the Northern Hemisphere, which means it’s time for feasting. The crops are ready for harvesting. The cornucopia is assembled. What are we eating (in games)?
Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.
This post includes a recipe at the end. But what’s an internet recipe without a lengthy headnote to scroll through? And how often do recipe headnotes include a treatise on the function of food in the Elder Scrolls universe? (more…)
Sara Davis is a recovering academic and marketing writer who lives in Philadelphia. Her PhD in American literature is from Temple University. She blogs about books, games, climate change, and other obsessions at literarysara.net.
Many things come appropriately tagged with a foreboding “Do not eat!” label, but dice, unfortunately, do not. As the tabletop gaming industry continues to thrive with growing interest, more and more independent die makers are taking the opportunity to also grow their businesses, expand their inventories, and strut their stuff to show off their beautiful—and scrumptious-looking—creations for the world to see and even potentially hoard and own. Many of these dice are so aesthetically pleasing to look at that they also tread the line of being a little too delicious-looking for comfort. (more…)
Elvie somehow finds bliss in purposefully complicating the art of storytelling and undertaking the painful practice of animation. If you see her on Twitter at @lvmaeparian, she is doing neither of those things. She currently helps with managing the socials to ensure that the secret recipe will never be revealed.
There are video games about food. There are gamers who recreate food from video games. One game even makes you get up off your gaming butt and make a real cake in order to earn an achievement. I am not nearly as creative, motivated, and skilled to get into the kitchen, and, while I do appreciate food, I don’t love it enough to play games about it. But I do love games that put in that extra gourmet touch. Gone are the days of Pac-Man munching on pixelated cherries. Now the food in video games is a lot more elaborate. While there might be foodies behind the gourmet meals that end up in video games, you don’t have to be a foodie to appreciate them.
Food, or the promise thereof, serves many purposes in games. Sometimes as part of the plot, like the cake in Portal meant to stop the artificial intelligence from killing everyone. More often, it provides a temporary bonus to your main character to aid in your adventures. From restoring health to increasing your lockpicking abilities, video game food can be far more advantageous than real life food.
I first came to appreciate the importance of food in games thanks to my friend who went by the name “Chumm” in Final Fantasy XI. He’s a food connoisseur in real life, so it really wasn’t surprising that among the many crafting choices available in the multiplayer online game, he chose cooking and kept his friends and linkshell mates well supplied with the in-game yummies that would help us perform to our potential. Back then, I didn’t understand much about character statistics and what would make my Red Mage’s spells work best, but I understood that if Chumm said I should eat melon pies, then melon pies were what I would eat. Now I’m much more aware of how stats affect and improve gameplay and will even do some cooking myself in other games I’ve played.
Guild Wars 2 comes to mind, where even my kids got in on the action because cooking is a game unto itself. Gather every ingredient you can find, combine them, and see what comes out! This is sort of how I cook, though the game makes it clear in advance if a particular combination won’t work.
While I lack the skills to create good food, unlike my husband, I certainly do appreciate it. And I appreciate a video game with characters who appreciate it too. I wrote about one of my favourite moments of video game foodie goodness in my The Witcher 2 Diaries. It occurs unexpectedly when Geralt explores various dreams, seeking a powerful dream to break a spell. He finds the dream of Iorveth, the leader of the nonhuman rebels, who waxes eloquent in his native elven tongue.
Is Iorveth dreaming about a future where humans and elves and dwarves can live in piece? Is he dreaming about his beloved Saskia? Oh no, dear reader. Iorveth has something far more important on his mind:
Oh, carrot, tasty carrot,
With even fat/lard on top,
And also chicken with parsley…
In Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard can wander around her ship to find her crew performing various activities. At one point, James Vega is busy in the mess, cooking up his own version of his abuela’s eggs—though he’s not exactly certain where these particular eggs originate from. Later, in the Citadel DLC, Shepard and Kaidan Alenko share a friendly or romantic dinner of beer and steak—the food of Alenko’s people (Canadians)—cooked in the kitchen of Shepard’s new digs.
Video games have come a long way and have matured in many ways, not the least of which is how they choose to tell their stories. Whether food is meant to enhance your character’s ability or to enhance the story, it is yet another way for games to make us feel at home, even as we battle space aliens or dragons.
Mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order. Publisher at WomenWriteAboutComics.com