For years, food has played an integral role in many of our favorite video games. Whether you are playing on your smartphone or a wider screen with your console or computer, you can’t deny that various foods in video games create a lasting impression during your gameplay. In other words, game developers use food to immerse players into the virtual world as it is something irresistible and relatable.
Here are three roles food has played in many video game titles:
Used for Sustenance and Boosting Stats/Skills
Perhaps the most obvious and relatable role, many games use food as sustenance. For example, in many simulation games, it is crucial that you feed your characters or virtual pets. Otherwise, they will die and you may or may not suffer consequences in your gameplay.
On the other hand, some games use food as a healing or revival item. In the case of Genshin Impact, for example, players can access their inventory to feed their characters should they run low on health points or die during a fight. The characters may also experience “fullness” if you keep feeding them.
Some games also use food and drink to provide a boost in defense, attack, and critical rate, making players stronger and more resistant to certain environments. For instance, Dark Souls players use edible consumables to enhance stamina, increase resistance against ailments (toxic, bleed, and frost), and boost elemental and magical attacks.
Simulates Our Real-Life Relationship with Food
Ever wondered how you can’t touch, smell, or eat virtual food, yet your mouth waters at the sight of it? You are not alone. As mentioned, game developers use food to entice players while they play. Like in Monster Hunter: World, its developers mastered the art of fine-tuning the texture of meat, the consistency of sauces and soups, and the appearance of perfectly cooked food, which is why many dishes in the game always look good. In a way, players crave the dishes and satiate their hunger by feeding their characters with them.
You may also think of dishes in video games as the ultimate food porn. Not only do they elicit human responses to seeing delicious food in real life, but the realistic texture and plating make them aesthetically pleasing. Think of it as a virtual tour of a property you plan to buy. For instance, before purchasing a Pag-IBIG foreclosed property, you want to tour the property from your screen to see whether it is worth looking at in real life. Plus, photos and video presentations of the foreclosure may convince you that it is your dream home.
Part of Lore/World-Building
While most video game foods serve as sustenance and boosts, others serve a crucial role in the game’s lore and world-building. Take The Last of Us as an example. Since the game’s plot is set in a zombie-like apocalypse, players have to navigate Joel and Ellie (the game’s protagonists) to forage the woods for any edible meat, fruit, and greens they may find. Some conversations even talk about rationing canned goods to feed all survivors for a week or more.
In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, saké is an obtainable item from bosses and through exploring the grounds of Ashina. Besides alluding to a real-life ceremony in Japan, giving rice wine to specific characters unlocks key conversation responses that help players understand the plot and characters better. Players might even score hints on some bosses’ weaknesses after sharing a cup of saké or two.
The bottom line of food and drink is that whether they are tangible or virtual, they play vital roles in our lives. From sustenance to healing, forging relationships, culture, and aesthetics, food will remain a part of our lives and will continue to reflect aspects of our routines and aspirations.