Although exclusives like Cooking Mama have made cooking games a popular genre, more games are emphasizing the cultural aspects of food.

Why it matters: Preparing food is not just about following recipes and creating delicious meals – there are stories behind some culinary creations and understanding how they are prepared.

  • In “Soup Pot”, a new game from developer Chikon Club starting later this year for Xbox Series X | S and PC, players cook various local or traditional Filipino recipes while cheating on social media and broadcasting live to an in-game audience.
  • Art director Trina Pagtakhan told Axios, “it is simply the first time you have seen Filipino food in the spotlight. … To be able to see a dish that [Filipinos] grew up and did it themselves for the first time, I think it really will have a special meaning. “

Soup pot “is not intended however to be an ultra-realistic immersion in cooking; the ingredients will shout their names. Pagtakhan’s art, though meticulously rendered, reflects that personality.

  • “I do not want to go too realistic with food,” she said.
  • “I want to have this kind of balance between styling and being real. “I want to have my own personality, to say the least.”

Between lines: Making food that you can not taste, touch or smell, tearing from the mouth requires a lot of play with textures and lighting. Pagtakhan says she researched food photography to understand how to best present each given dish.

  • Videos on YouTube, which provide a more complete view of food preparation than any photo of recipes, were also relevant to her process.
  • “This is a recipe where we have to make soup and then we have to wrap it inside a banana leaf,” she said. Pictures can not capture its movement, which is essential for the game.

Large view: For Pagtakhan, who likes to watch cooking videos, food is a way to stress. “I am a very introverted person and I have no other way out to stress,” she told Axios.

  • “I really like to make my own food because there is something really homely about home-cooked food that relieves the stress of everyday life.”

But Pagtakhan says she spends “an unhealthy time” looking at food as part of work, at least eight hours a day.

  • “I’m from 1am to 6am trying to nail certain parts of the pattern, so just at that time I’m watching videos and photos with so much food.”
  • Eventually, it is bound to make a person break down. “Yesterday, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I ordered McDonald’s at 3am.”
Image: Trina Pagtakhan

When it comes to her art, however, Pagtakhan has literally seen a lot of sausage being made to look delicious.

  • “When I look at my art, I just see, mm yes I made that structure using this method. So it becomes really fake for me.”
  • “I just look at this as a collection of patterns and textures and lighting.”

As part of its process, Pagtakhan holds a humor chart to set the tone of the recipes featured in “Soup Pot”. “Sometimes I lose track of my original vision,” she said.

  • With the humor chart, she helps him quickly refer to both the ingredients you will find in the game, as well as the Philippine vibe.
  • “I wanted to reflect on that by making the palette really warm. It’s really hot here,” she said. “And I wanted the overall feel of the game to feel like it was happening in someone’s kitchen here in the Philippines, in real life, or someone’s grandmother’s kitchen.”