Play with your food.
Now letâ€™s be honest; we're a bunch of game reviewers; our knowledge of nutrition is limited to simple colour and touch rules: green = healthy, red = hot and spicy, furry = avoid. What do we know about food? Rather than pretend to be the next Jamie Oliver, we thought we'd conduct an impromptu survey in order to establish some of the more popular food and drink options for hardened gamers.
First off, the methodology we used. We started by up-ending each of the keyboards in the office and noting what fell out. We then carefully separated the food from the normal human detritus.
An advisory for those who want to try this at home: have a rolled-up newspaper handy to take care of any moving objects that you may discover.
It is here that we hit our first scientific conundrum. Are nose goblins a food group? We have yet to settle this argument, with the fanatical gold diggers forming up in either the "eat it" or "hide it" camps. We even have one who is storing his up to mould into tiny sculptures of popular game characters (canâ€™t wait for that article!).
Without spoiling it, one result of our study was to define a key requirement for gamer food: it must be able to be consumed single-handedly and largely eaten sight unseen.
What surprised us about this is that, as a food, fries normally require someone to source them for you. â€śHoney, be a good girl and get some fries, Iâ€™m busy planning world dominationâ€ť*. Fries obviously fulfil the requirement of a one handed food, with the added advantage of being able to either sneak in a the single fry, or to opt for the â€ślets shovel in as much as I can in before the next round starts.â€ť
* On an unrelated note, divorces are on the increase in New Zealand.
Another popular choice was the pizza. Folded or rolled, it can contain a wide variety of processed meats and a smattering of vegetables, wrapped in a carb-rich crust, and it's all consumed at once. Not only that, but you can convince a teenager to deliver it to your door for just a few bucks. Talk about convenient.
The only drawback is - of course - the dreaded cheese landslide. It's a proven fact* that the first causality of this Italian delight is the keyboard. "Send out the Saint Bernard! My enter key is buried!" We also have a theory that the term â€śString Theoryâ€ť was devised by physicists during a late night Doom 2 session, in which pizzas featured heavily. There should probably be a warning on the box that states â€śConsuming this product while operating a computer can result in the user being tied up in a cheesy knot.â€ť
* Not a proven fact
This next one had us stumped for a while. "What are those brown stains on the keyboard? Iâ€™m not going to sniff that!" Well, after drawing straws, it was finally established that the source of the popular stain was in fact chocolate. The sudden burst of sugary goodness seems to be a common favourite for many gamers. Pure energy in a tasty sugar-coat, that's guaranteed to push your body into overdrive.
Chocolate-based snacks fit the "one-handed food" criteria, but there are a few drawbacks. They normally come wrapped in something that requires two hands to open, if you have pets or non potty trained children you need to look before you eat, and you will be in constant competition with the females in the house for this treat.
Carbonated and caffeinated drinks, which are often referred to as keyboard killers; yes, we have all done it. The over enthusiastic mouse movement, the unguided arm wave, or the sudden knee-jolt to the underside of your desk. Whatever the reason, it's immediately followed by that awful realisation that your keyboard is now being treated to a bath in sugary fluid. Say goodbye to that keyboard, itâ€™s toast!
Breakfast food. Eating it at times other than at breakfast makes you look healthy (itâ€™s true, try it out sometime). A piece of toast covered in sticky peanut butter (smeared on your mouse? There is no better way of saying â€śhands off!â€ť to other LAN-goers) or that rarest of foods, Marmite. The only drawback is that it requires some preparation and some focus (â€śHey can we pause the game? My fire alarm is going off" is a common Pop-Tart related statement.)
The old hands in the team pour scorn on the new trend of gaming snacks and take a more purist view on gaming fuel. Coffee still holds its own when it comes to late night gaming sessions; the cup of Jo, wake up juice - it's the drug of choice for gamers and office workers alike. Real gamers are double shot long black drinkers.
Alcohol is also a favourite for some of us. It's not clear if we play better with it, or if we simply believe we play better; either way, most adult gamer's desks seem to have empty bottles displayed proudly as trophies of game sessions past.
â€śThis raid is definitely a two-bottler, with a whiskey chaser!â€ť
One of the less common snacks we found was popcorn. Those who do like it value its easy cooking, salty buttery flavour, and how it lightly bounces off your keyboard. Candy also featured for some; it wasn't clear if this was because of the sugar, the exercise for the jaw, or the desire to hand over large wodges of cash to the dentist.
All joking aside, we must point out that a lot of these snacks are not what could be called good for you. In fact, one of the criticisms levelled at gaming in general is that it is an unhealthy pastime.
Some sage advice, perhaps, is that if you canâ€™t see your feet, or if your hands donâ€™t quite reach the keyboard, then you might have overdone it in the snacks department. Maybe you could reach for some veges from time to time? Maybe a vegetarian pizza? Baby steps people, baby steps.
Oh, and finally, a question to consider: when did you last disinfect your keyboard?