Play With Your Food: An appe-teaser of the Edible Games Cookbook
We’ve all been told not to play with our food, but the Edible Games Cookbook wants nothing more than to throw those rules out the window. Inspired by creator and game designer Jenn Sandercock’s passion for baking, the cookbook includes everything you need to make and bake twelve unique games, all designed in some way around the experience of eating your delicious creations! Some of them feel like more conventional tabletop games with pieces to move and strategy to think about, some of them are deduction or logic games, and others are simply silly. All of them, though, effortlessly combine a childlike sense of play with the universal love of incredible food.
The Edible Games Cookbook just launched on Kickstarter, and we absolutely had to try the sample chapter that’s available for ourselves - The Order of the Oven Mitt! This entreé into Jenn’s world of edible games was a simply fantastic experience, so if we’ve whet your appetite make sure to read on to find out more about it. Come on, don’t dessert us now!
Phoebe: Even though we’ve only experienced a taster of what the Edible Games Cookbook has to offer, I can honestly say it was love at first bite.
Mark: The first thing about this project that really grabbed my attention is how the eating process isn’t just a gimmick, it’s an essential part of the gameplay! In our sample game of The Order of the Oven Mitt, we got the opportunity to play a chess-style tactical game where your “captured” pieces go straight into your mouth - but not before you performed a Sacred Ritual for each specific candy!
Phoebe: I was honestly surprised by how much strategy and thought we had to put into the gameplay. The rules themselves were simple, but we ended up being able to plan two or three moves ahead to try to nab the best Sacred Squares for ourselves.
The Order of the Oven Mitt is played in two teams, and on your team’s turn you get to move your squire in an L shape like a chess knight. The ultimate goal is to land on a Sacred Square so you can perform the ritual and enjoy the delicious baked goods, while forcing the other team to land on the Common Squares - which of course you can’t eat because you’re a squire, not a commoner! After your move you get to “push” all the squares in your row or column in one direction, shifting the state of the board and hopefully setting you up for another yummy Sacred Square next turn (or getting the best candy out of the other team’s reach).
Mark: The gameplay was simple enough for people like your dad to enjoy (who isn’t a heavily involved gamer), yet we still had a blast scheming and plotting how to manipulate the board into our favour. What was your favourite treat we got to eat?
Phoebe: They were all delicious (it’s hard to go wrong with candy, cookies, and icing sugar after all), but watching my dad apologise to the Sacred Gummy Bear before biting its head off was definitely one of the highlights of the game! I loved how each of the rituals for the thirteen different candies were so lighthearted and silly - it’s impossible to play this game without cracking a laugh or a smile, because not only are you getting to enjoy something you made with love and care, you’re also watching your friends and family make fools of themselves in the name of eating some Sacred Squares!
Mark: You’re right about it being something you love and care for. The recipe we were given was simple to follow and extremely accessible. We had plenty of dough, enough to make us 6 rounds of the game with some spare cookies left over. The joy of the bake is half the fun! I really think this cookbook is designed as something that you bust out for special occasions like game nights or family gatherings. I can just see our next Charterstone game night beginning with a dinner followed by an edible board game for dessert before we sink into the meaty games of the night. I even think this is something I could take to family Christmas as an ample distraction for pestering relatives asking when I’m going to get a “real job”.
Phoebe: It’s honestly a good thing we had spare dough, because I don’t think we would have had enough pieces otherwise… That cookie dough was addictively delicious, and I have no regrets about the massive sugar coma it put me in! I also love that we were able to customise the game to use our favourite chocolates and candies, and that the cookbook actually helped us figure out what we could use for replacements. Because of the Sacred Rituals, certain candies needed to have specific qualities - some needed to be in wrappers, some needed to be able to be bitten in half, and one even needed to be in the shape of a fish! The instructions made it easy to spot the requirements for each of the candies, so we could find replacements for ones that aren’t available in Australia or that we just didn’t like.
Mark: Not only can you replace the candy, but every recipe offers dietary variants to suit your needs.
Phoebe: I’m so glad Jenn went to the effort of including variants for common dietary requirements - nut free, gluten free, sugar free, vegetarian - even if sometimes it’s as simple as “Use rice flour in place of regular flour”. It shows that extra level of care that she’s put into the project, and it really makes a difference to help make the games inclusive without putting the burden on the players to figure out how to adjust it to their needs. As someone who constantly has to think about what I eat thanks to a broken pancreas and Type 1 diabetes, small considerations like that can make the world of difference to my mental health.
Mark: It wasn’t only devilishly delicious, but the end results look gorgeous! Pure Insta-worthy! Check out some of the photography (which will be in the final book itself) by Kate Baldwin below. Even if you never intend of making any of these games for yourself, the 300-page hardcover book will be stunning to have on your shelf, and it’s jam-packed with value too. 12 games, beautiful photography, and all the recipes to get you started (if you’re not nifty in the kitchen, the book even has store-bought alternates for every game component so you can get it to the table faster).
And these aren’t just 12 thrown together activities, or games you already know with a small edible twist. Jenn’s 10 years of digital game development experience and her 5 years of meticulous playtesting really shine through here (The Order of the Oven Mitt even won the 2016 IndieCade Interaction Award).
Phoebe: I honestly can’t wait for the cookbook to come out, because the teasers of the other games included in it make me want to play them straight away. There’s a roll-and-move game to trick kids into eating veggies (but you can play with gourmet cheeses for a tastier adult version), a cookie Tetris-like game where you can nibble the pieces to make them fit, and even a co-operative deduction game using profiteroles set in France during World War II. All of the edible games don’t just look mouth-wateringly delicious - they’re creative and quirky, and they make use of elements of game design in completely unique ways.
Jenn has made something wonderfully innovative with The Edible Games Cookbook, but even more importantly she’s made something full of passion and joy that feels fantastic to be a part of.
Mark: This is a project that’s doing something special and pushing the boundaries of what games can be. Check out the sample chapter for yourself, or just go back it to get your very own copy. It’s live on Kickstarter now - you know what to do!
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