FATWORLD is a video game about the politics of nutrition. It explores the relationships between obesity, nutrition, and socioeconomics in the contemporary U.S. The game’s goal is not to tell people what to eat or how to exercise, but to demonstrate the complex, interwoven relationships between nutrition and factors like budgets, the physical world, subsidies, and regulations. Existing approaches to nutrition advocacy fail to communicate the aggregate effect of everyday health practices. It’s one thing to explain that daily exercise and nutrition are important, but people, young and old, have a very hard time wrapping their heads around outcomes five, 10, 50 years away.
You can choose starting weights and health conditions, including predispositions towards ailments like diabetes, heart disease, or food allergies. You’ll have to construct menus and recipes, decide what to eat and what to avoid, exercise (or not), and run a restaurant business to serve the members of your community.
FATWORLD comes with numerous foods, recipes, and meal plans, or players can create their own from the foods in their pantry or their imaginations.
I’m assigning this as tomorrow’s discussion question for my Video Game Culture and Theory course. The in-game tutorial is long, and it’s not immediately clear how to exit out of some windows (the circle with the X in it is not close enough to where the information is listed), and when the message “enter” appears on the screen, I keep wanting to push the “enter” button (rather than space, which is what the game expects). So I’m still exploring at this stage.