MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun: Cooking Mama

I loved playing Cooking Mama when I was younger (if I had access to a Nintendo today, I’m sure I would still love playing it). To provide some context, Cooking Mama is a video game that simulates a cooking activity. The game is played by following a character named Mama’s instructions to conduct cooking and kitchen tasks and ultimately prepare a certain meal. The mechanics involved are mostly seen in the performance of cooking and kitchen tasks, for example, swiping on the screen to cut vegetables, drawing circles on the screen to mix items together, tapping on the screen to distribute seasoning. To note, for most tasks, there is a timer and once the timer is up, you can no longer perform the task.  These mechanics create a dynamic that makes the player want to achieve the best results given certain constraints, such as the time. This dynamic makes the game fun in a challenging way. When I play the game, I find it fun to follow known instructions that the character Mama is providing, and try to produce the best dish possible. As the levels go up, it becomes even more exciting because the challenge increases. For example, the number of tasks increases and the time limit places more pressure. The challenge is fun because the mechanics are quite variable (as in, there’s different UI gestures involved to produce different results) and you can measure the quality of your output, such as how beautiful and edible your dish turns out to be.

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