I was doing a little down time web surfing and stumbled upon this run down of all-night gaming foods. It caught my attention because I do the all-night game thing on occasion, and have for years. And, every time I do, food is a part of the whole experience.
My first late-nighters were Scrabble and Rummy, with my mother. We’d eat popcorn or ice cream and drink Dr. Pepper and play late into hot summer nights. My first all-nighters were with my best friend, and we played Backgammon and Rummy, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.
Back when Dungeons and Dragons first hit the scene, I was there. When Magic first spread this way from the Wizards of the Coast, I started building decks and settling in to play ’till dawn.
We’d start the evening playing at a local coffee shop, getting hopped-up on freshly ground coffees from Africa and South America, served in French presses, and lattes. We enjoyed the sugar rush of richly sweet pastries and dense chocolate cakes. We’d wind up the night in an all-night Greek diner, with platters of french fries, some left plain, other than a shake of salt, for dipping in ketchup or rubbing in vinegar and others smothered in cheese and gravy.
I was surprised to find no good coffee on the list, even though — technically speaking — it’s not a snack. But, imagine a night gaming with no coffee! Impossible. I did notice that energy drinks were there, which speaks to a younger crowd of gamers, I guess. I did smile at the feta, tomatoes, Greek olives and onions, as it reminded me of the nights at the diner. What I liked about the list is that it offered a neat glimpse into gaming culture, which isn’t quite what non-gamers — and even gamers themselves — may think.
The first part of the list contained items that most would associate with the stereotypical gamer — usually a guy, though sometimes a girl, late teen, young adult, maybe even a bit older, not yet weighed down by the fullness of life’s more ‘grown-up’ responsibilities. Some of those foods included potato chips, popcorn, Gummy Bears candy, and pizza.
Not all gamers, however, fit into that gamer model and this list reflected that nicely. The second and third part of the list had a lot of food ideas to offer to all-night gamers of a variety of sorts and with a variety of tastes. I found fast finger foods and even recipes to make snacks like pakora and chutneys, and dim sum. The list had several nutritious and easy to make suggestions. Indeed, it was especially useful to me, as I have to combine all-night gaming with responsible parenting these days.
Using some of those nutritious options may just make up for the time that, in the hot and heavy flush of competition, I commanded my then 14-year-old to drink a cup of coffee at 3:15 AM, as he was not going to sleep leaving me 4 games down in our on-going Magic tournament (our records date back more than 2 years now, and I am currently an unfortunate 23 games down). With such nutritious choices as pitas filled with hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, and sprouts, we can play right through meal time, without me suffering from the guilt associated with ordering some grease-dripping pizza from the delivery place around the corner.
The comments afterwards were a fun read, as well. There were gamers discussing the merits of certain foods based on the potential to damage controllers with grease, and — what I found most interesting — gamers that seemed unaware of the potential for gamers beyond their specific demographic.
There were gamers that seemed truly appalled that a gaming food list would include such things as sushi or smoked salmon bites, served with whole mushrooms sauteed in a bit of butter with a splash of wine and chilled fruit, rather than sticking to the old standards — Jolt and Hotpockets, with a side of microwave popcorn and Tootsie Rolls, and perhaps some good old-fashioned chips and dip.
It was like they couldn’t imagine that there are people that come home from the office, take off their jackets and ties, and wait for friends to arrive for all night gaming and couldn’t picture middle-aged parents reserving the night after the PTA meeting for a rousing evening of D and D. And, like when people used to get together to play bridge, canasta, and other games, decades ago, they like to nibble at good food while they do it.
I’m sure there must be a lot of older gamers like myself, players that like all-nighters and great food. I’m 41, and started playing as a teen, then kept it up so I had something to do with my brothers, who are 13 and 16 years younger than me. Then, I continued playing to have something cool to do with my teen-aged son. My daughters, much younger than my son, are learning to play various games. They love gaming, because that way they have something that they can do with their adored older brother, who isn’t as enthusiastic about playing little kid’s games as he used to be, though he does usually find time to play a token few with them because he’s a nice kid.
I’ll definitely be keeping that list of gaming foods in my files. The fast and easy foods and the links to some easy recipes and great make-aheads ensure that we’ll be trying out some of those suggestions during our next all-night gaming session.