Monday, October 18, 2010

Video games and food, my two great loves

If you have played a video game in the last 20 years, then you most likely have come across this concept: food gives you health.  Whether it was the older games like Pac Man or the most recent games, like my favorite, Bioshock, then you are aware that food is used to either give you more points or more health. 

I remember playing the original Gauntlet games with my friend and while playing as the Wizard, if your health was low and you walked into the food, it would replenish some health and give a sound bite :"Food is good".  I believe that it was the easiest way to represent health and the replenishment of health besides using a white item with a red cross on it.  For us, as humans, we know that our health will grow or replenish if we eat food.  Even a 3 year old knows that if you eat food, your stomach doesn't hurt and you can give your body the nutrients to fight off infections and other things.  If you don't eat, you get hungry and your body loses the nutrients that it needs.  In fact, if you stop eating, your body still tries to go through the processes and will cannibalize your own body to keep it going.  For example; if you don't have enough calcium in your body, your body will start to leach it from your bones.  If you don't have enough proteins, your body will start to break down your muscle and use it for other things.

For instance, we will look at one of my favorite games: Bioshock.  In Bioshock, when your character needs to replenish health, this can be done so with the normal medical pack or with a box of bandages, but this can also be done by eating food or taking other consumables.  Taking in vitamins, canned food, pep bar, potato chips and creme filled cakes, will raise your health back just a bit. 

Another one of my favorite games is the Castlevania series and in this game, finding things like a chicken leg or roast beef will replenish health.  Let's be honest though, if you were traveling for a day in some dark, cold and wet forests in Moldavia hunting after a werewolf, there is probably nothing more tasty than a nice roasted chicken leg or a giant plate of roast beef.  Think of the amount of good stuff in one of those dishes: a minimum amount of fat, tons of good proteins and filling as ever.  Besides, when was the last time that you have eaten a plate of roast beef or roasted chicken and not felt 'goo' afterwards?

My 4 year old, first started playing video games when he was 2 & 1/2 years old.  He picked it up all by himself, when he noticed that his character could eat food that he liked.  So, his guy walks over and grabs the cake or the carrot and he feels better.  Besides, my son loves carrots and cake.

Now, a history of video games would reveal that as the games first started out, food was shown as a way to acquire points.  It wasn't until games started with actual characters with a life bar or a health percentage, that food helped bring back that health. While this information isn't anything else that you couldn't find on your own, I do like to point out that it is only something that occurs in video games.  When was the last time that you saw Bruce Willis scarf down a burger and fries while shooting up terrorists on the silver screen?  Food is just food in the movies, as if characters do get hurt or injured enough, they can't instantly heal, as it is more attuned with real life.  Honestly, if a character in a game had to rescue his love from an evil winged devil, and he had 12 hours or less to do so, finding food would not help him.  Reminds me of another thing that they omit in movies even: potty breaks.  In a great movie, like Die Hard, you never see anyone use the bathroom.  But in the movie True Lies, you see Arnold use the toilet.  That makes the movie a little more realistic, as opposed to video games.  Imagine if your mage had to take a piss while on a fast raid through the Arthas' throne?  You would be there forever.   

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