If you’re a millennial, it’s a known fact that you’ve personally killed at least three industries, businesses, or hobbies. It’s nothing to do with the housing market ladder getting pulled up in front of you, skyrocketing rent, or stagnant wages. It’s because you — yes, you reading this right now — are a cold-blooded killer. One of your mercilessly murdered victims is cookery: an often expensive and quite time consuming hobby. And while it can be done on a budget, getting all the ingredients for certain recipes can be difficult (especially if you’re trapped indoors). But as with most things, video games have got you covered!
Admittedly, gaming can also get expensive and eat up what little free time we have these days. However, thanks to some new trends and an increased focus on food in gaming, these days you can make your cake and have it, too (even if you can’t actually eat it).
“Early on, games would have items like fruit or slabs of meat to restore your health,” says Victoria Rosenthal, creator of Pixelated Provisions. On the site, she recreates and shares recipes for real-life versions of video game foods.
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“Nowadays, developers are getting extremely detailed with gorgeous images and mechanics to get a delicious meal made,” she added. “I think adding food to games helps make the world feel a bit more realistic. We are always eating, so it is only fair that the characters get a chance to enjoy something too. I also think many people working in games today are foodies in some way. Social media has made it popular to show off all the food you are eating. Games are jumping in to that trend with making delicious dishes that we wish we could be trying ourselves.”
Recent examples include the roadside curry from Pokemon Sword & Shield, a full kitchen to cook from in Fire Emblem: Three House, and your cooking pot in The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. This increased focus on food has even led some gamers taking to the kitchen more. That includes Chelsea Monroe-Casel, creator of The Inn At The Crossroads, which recreates foods from fictional worlds beyond games. Monroe-Cassel is also the author of the official Skyrim and Overwatch cookbooks.
“It’s been fantastic to see so many cooks and chefs out there online tackling these fictional dishes, and to see the fan reaction to them,” she said. “And an unexpected side effect of that, I think, is seeing a lot of people enjoying cooking and eating in ways they might not have otherwise, like baking bread for the first time, or exploring exciting new spices. I think it makes cooking fun again, and that’s terrific.”
Pairings for Players
Food and video games seem to have meshed together well, but why exactly is that?
“I have always liked that games provide a pretty positive form of escapism, something we could all use from time to time,” Monroe-Casell explained. “But if the food design in a game is done well, maybe it gives your average home cook some ideas. Maybe they’ll buy leeks the next time they’re in the store, or maybe they’ll try making beer at home for the first time because their curiosity was sparked by the process in a game. Or maybe it’s just plain fun to craft an elaborate in-game feast while snacking on chips and soda. In any case, it’s a trend I hope to see continue.”
That’s a good reminder. Food is often only part of the equation. Pairing food with drinks, and specifically, wine has been a staple of fine dining for centuries. Noelle Bradmier, creator of Wine & Game Pairing, has helped brought the art into the 21st Century.
“When I’m coming up with a new pairing, I think a lot about the content of the game,” Bradmier said. “Is it light-hearted and relaxing, or heavy and dark? That’ll indicate if I want to go with a zesty white wine or a hearty red. From there, I look at things like, what kind of setting does the game take place in? Is it grassy, woody, smoky, floral? Is the setting a real geographical location, like Spain or Japan? Are there fruits or other foods that are important to gameplay? I’m a designer by day, so I take the packaging into consideration too. There’s some great label designs out there that can really sell the bottle!”
She also offered some thoughts as to why we’re seeing more food in our video games.
Just the Right Touch
“I think food culture has been on the rise,” she added. “It’s everywhere in social media, so it was only a matter of time before it started popping up in our gaming experiences! I think a lot of people are using cooking more and more as a creative outlet and as a way to treat themselves, so it’s fun to see trends like that reflected in gaming.”
As well as running Pixelated Provisions, Rosenthal also wrote the Fallout cookbook and the upcoming Destiny cookbook — due to be released Aug. 4 of this year. While the Destiny recipes are under embargo until then (it’s not exactly a game known for its food) she did share some of her favorites from her previous work.
“From the Fallout cookbook, I really enjoy the Poached Angler, Radscopion en Croute, and Old Lady Palmer’s Sweetrolls,” she added. “I wish I could talk about the Destiny one because a lot of those recipes have become staples in my house.”
Rosenthal is mindful of the expensive nature of some ingredients too, and even adds some cheaper, simpler recipes on Pixelated Provisions as well.
“A few easier and cheaper recipes to start with include the roast chicken from Streets of Rage, the meatballs from Don’t Starve, and the nebula salmon teriyaki from Final Fantasy XV,” she said. “With that confidence, more people will see that cooking can be fun both in game and in the kitchen.”