Twisted Cooking Mama: A Lesson in Subtlety

Play the game here.
Warning: This game does contain blood, distrubing images/video, and other things some might find offensive.

The game, Twisted Cooking Mama, or, Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals, The Unauthorized PETA Edition, was created with one simple goal: to try and convince the player to adopt veganism/support PETA. It tries to do this in two ways: 1) having the player create a Thanksgiving dinner as gruesomely as possible, and 2) displaying facts and videos about turkey farming. While the game itself is pretty fun, the message it tries to deliver, in my opinion, ends up failing to leave a mark. The main cause of this is the game’s lack of subtlety: it tries so hard to convince you that eating meat is bad that the scenarios it creates end up getting ridiculous. Let’s start from the top.

The first “level”, or recipe, in this game is to prepare the turkey for the dinner. It first asks you to pluck the feathers from the turkey. As the feathers fall off the turkey, the game also displays droplets of blood coming off of the turkey. That’s a theme of this game; blood everywhere for no real reason. Anyways, once all of the feathers are removed, the game gives the player a results screen, giving the player’s score, an option to continue, or to try again. Oh yeah, almost forgot about the decapitated turkey head and Mama yelling, “Meaner than Mama!”

Pictured: Subtlety

The next part of this recipe is to remove the internal organs. This is accomplished by moving your mouse into the turkey, grabbing an organ, and placing it into a bowl, complete with sickly sound effects and dripping blood everywhere. After this minigame, the first stage is complete and you have finished preparing the turkey. The game then presents you with a rather gruesome fact about aviary farming, as well as a link to a video with more info.

The second recipe in this game is to stuff the turkey. Here’s where the game starts reaching the ridiculous scenarios. The first part of this recipe is to crack eggs. The first egg cracks normally, but the rest of them will contain blood and/or feathers. Now, I’ve had eggs for many years now, and I’ve never seen an egg carton contain an egg with blood or feathers in it, let alone four in a row. I’m not saying this isn’t impossible; just that I’ve personally never seen this. At this point, I feel that the game has started to fail at its purposes. This then continues in the next stage, where you…mix ingredients. Oh, the humanity!

Apparently, this is a form of animal cruelty

The rest of this recipe consists of stuffing the turkey, removing the head (this late in the process?), and cooking it in the oven. When you have finished, you are met with an abomination to the culinary arts, as well as another aviary farming fact and another video. The last recipe in this Thanksgiving nightmare is to do the unimaginable…create the gravy. Wait, what?

Pure evil

After completing the cruel and heartless task of creating gravy, Mama has a change of heart and now loves animals. The game provides one last level where you create a tofu turkey. Once complete, it gives a fact about turkeys and provides a link to a site with turkey-free Thanksgiving recipes. It ends on an image of Mama holding a turkey lovingly and asking the player to “Take the Pledge to be Veg!” Even after all of that, they’re still unsure whether or not their message was understood.

To the game’s credit, it is quite a bunch of fun to play, and it could have been an effective tool for persuading people into becoming vegans. At the very least, it could have at least made people think about the treatment of animals for consumption. However, its lack of subtley seriously hampers it. Instead of trying to persuade politely, it comes off as propoganda; essentially trying to force its views onto the player. This game is a perfect example of how not to persuade. Even if your game is quite fun and delivers a message, if it lacks subtelty in its delivery, it will ultimately fail at its job.

  1. snbrown said:

    This game is both disturbing and informative at the same time. It displays gruesome images of animals being slaughtered and prepared as meals. Many people are aware of the process that takes place in order to kill and cook an animal, therefore I do not feel that those images should be displayed in a game. At the same time, this game provides information about being vegan as well as recipes for preparing vegan foods. This aspect of the game is both helpful and informative, but this information could have been distributed in a simpler and cleaner way. This is not a game designed for children.

  2. I like the questions this game raises. I think it relates back to the other recent post of Shut Up and Drive. What can a game make you do? Can a game make you a bad driver? Can a game make you a vegan?

    When it’s this overt, I doubt it. I imagine there are very few people who will play this game and be shocked into a new reality by its content. The title already primes you for the process. “Mama Kills Animals.” If you hate seeing animals slaughtered, you’re not going to play. If you’re indifferent to or excited by the prospect, you might No matter what your opinion is, there’s no surprise, so the message is blunt. The process itself holds no rhetoric. What you learn as the game goes is not contingent on immediate experience can be found elsewhere with far less sanctimony. The game itself is superfluous.

    The only image that has any effect on me is the happy Turkey at the end. It’s adorable, and I want it. Unfortunately, that’s not a real turkey. Actual ones wouldn’t let me hug it, or stare at me in mute gratitude, so while I wouldn’t want to destroy that fictional, happy turkey, it’s going to have absolutely no effect on how I treat and eat its real life counterparts.

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