A History of Food and Video Games Slideshow

Pac-Man (1980)

This quintessential game, ingeniously built around the simple act of eating, featured an '80s icon — the floating yellow circle known as Pac-Man. The goal was to devour everything in sight while navigating a glowing blue maze and avoiding multicolored ghosts, which are obviously the yellow circle’s natural enemies. Or something. Apparently the plot made sense to Namco when they put the game out on the market in 1980, and soon after, Pac-Man Fever began.

BurgerTime (1982)

The universal dream of becoming the world’s greatest fry cook comes to life as gamers play as Peter Pepper in Data East’s BurgerTime. Peter walks over one burger ingredient at a time, causing them to drop down and assemble a fully formed cheeseburger. However, the challenge becomes more difficult once Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Pickle, and Mr. Egg decide they must stop you. Of course, with the chef walking all over the ingredients, you’d think the real enemy would be the health department.

Fast Food (1982)

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While video game designers were not very creative with names in the 1980s, they were very much obsessed with, well, fast food. In this video game with a popular title, you control a pair of lips (named "Mighty Mouth") eating their way through falling foods while avoiding the dreaded purple pickle. Each level up, however, is brought on by the confusing title of "You’re getting fatter!"

PO’ed (1995)

Aliens, food, and explosions — what could be better? In this 1995 game put out by Accolade, players take on the role of the cook of a destroyed spaceship who’s trapped on an alien planet. Using only his trusty frying pan and a few other key tools, he must make his way past the alien monsters and to safety.

Diner Dash (2003)

In this downloadable game from Gamelab, the mission is to help a young restaurateur named Flo get her restaurant off the ground. This feat is accomplished by guiding her through the arduous task of being a waiter at the most popular new place in town. Seat and serve customers and gain enough money to open more restaurants, and reach the top levels of culinary glory.

Fast Food Tycoon (2000)

This "Tycoon" variation put out by Activision Value in 2000 revolves around a simple question: "Do you have what it takes to make it in the cutthroat world of running a pizza chain?" The answer may surprise you, as you start your own pizza chain, developing recipes and business strategies designed to make Domino’s look like a child’s lemonade stand. This game is also unique in that there is a seedy underworld involved where you can grow your business with help from the Mafia, but asking for their help sometimes comes at a dire price.

Restaurant Empire (2003)

Just as the title says, in this 2003 Enlight Software game the player is the owner of their very own restaurant, and all the responsibilities that come with it. The tasks range from choosing what kind of cuisine to serve to picking out a chef to helm the kitchen, all while keeping the diners happy.

Cooking Mama (2006)

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Gamers can take their love for food on the go with this Office Create game for the Nintendo DS, iPhone and iPad. This game engages the player in preparing and cooking various meals. The player is able to chop veggies, flip food, and do basically everything a professional chef can. Finish your dish on time and follow instructions to win this short game, and get one step closer to actually cooking something in your non-virtual kitchen.

Cake Mania (2006)

Love pastries and sweets but can’t afford culinary school? Then Cake Mania is the game for you, courtesy of Sandlot Games. Satisfy your sweet tooth by helping Jill Evans in this fast-paced touch screen game. Get requests from customers, bake, ice, and serve cakes so you can save the Evans’ Bakery.

Hell’s Kitchen (2008)

Put your time management skills to the test in this rigorous boot camp-style game based off the television series Hell’s Kitchen with chef Gordon Ramsay. Pass each challenge and have your meal scored by chef Ramsay himself to see if you have what it takes to become the next five-star chef in the hottest kitchen in town.

Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine (2008)

Whose cuisine reigns supreme? Prepare for battle as you play on the Wii against one of the Food Network’s Iron Chefs. Players are challenged to create several dishes in the famed Kitchen Stadium (complete with its own miniature Alton Brown), with the dastardly clock counting down the seconds until final judgment.

Major League Eating (2008)

Eat competitively without putting on a pound! Play as some of the world’s top professional competitive eaters on the Wii and push their bodies to the test as you compete for the title. Players learn different eating techniques while winning burp-off and hot potato challenges. Do well and you may unlock the secret character, which may or may not be a Kodiak bear.

Personal Trainer: Cooking (2008)

Gourmet cooking is at your fingertips with this game for the Nintendo DS. You get a private cooking instructor who talks you through numerous recipes from around the world. Personal Trainer: Cooking is less of a traditional video game and more of an interactive cookbook incorporating live cooking demonstrations.

Restaurant Rush (2008)

Gamenauts' sequel to the computer game Burger Rush includes more than 50 recipes to cook while on the quest to becoming the world’s greatest chef. Compete, cook, and shop while you play as Heidi and help prove to the judges from the World Culinary Federation that she’s a good enough chef to open her own cooking school.

Burger Shop (2008)

In this 2008 game and love letter to the underappreciated work of the mechanical fry cook, the player works to serve hungry customers using the special BurgerTron 2000 while frying and grilling their way through eight restaurants. The game is never-ending, so let your inner burger-flipper out any time you have a free minute.

Cooking Dash (2008)

The same Flo from Diner Dash takes a twist in her culinary career in this downloadable app game. Capitalizing on the latest video game trend of celebrity chef games, this game takes a unique twist by having you earn your way up. Cookie, a chef from Flo’s diner leaves to pursue a career on a reality cooking TV show. Cookie invites different chefs on the show, and it’s up to Flo to fill in for these chefs while they’re away.

Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)

Grand Theft Auto has revolutionized the gaming scene by giving the gaming community something it had never experienced before. Instead of acting out a set adventure with a specific plot, Grand Theft Auto pioneered the concept of integrating the player into a whole virtual world. Included in that virtual world? All kinds of restaurants and games, some even based off real-life chains. Enjoy a burger at Burger Shot, a chain with Burger King-like colors, and Clucken’ Bell, which serves tacos under a bell sign. Remind you of anything? Enjoy your favorite fast-food chains in this game as you possibly burn down the city.

Fruit Ninja (2010)

The goal of this game is fairly straightforward — you’re a ninja and you hate fruit. Yes, plot doesn’t seem to be the main point of the hyper-addicting game taking over the app store, but the gameplay more than makes up for it. With a simple wave of your finger, you quickly dismember a variety of fruit, all while avoiding bombs being tossed in your direction. The inability to stop playing this game became apparent to its creators, Halfbrick Studios, early last year when it passed 100 million downloads.