Consume Me is an upcoming game about disordered eating. In it, you will literally balance your diet through carefully applied rules. The game’s creator, Jenny Jiao Hsia, is working on it as the capstone project of her BFA in game design at the NYU Game Center.
“Games are just a collection of rules.” Consume Me draws from my attempts at dieting when I was in high school. During the most intense part of this experience, I wrote down a bunch of very rigorous rules for myself to follow. Consume Me is inspired by this set of rules: I would also like to explore this dissonance between knowing what you need to do in your mind–with rules clearly laid out before you–and your actual ability to follow these rules.
Currently, there are few games dealing with this particular subject of dieting and eating and I’d like to explore these unused verbs with this capstone project. You play as a 16 year old version of myself in high school who is dissatisfied with her body. She decides that she wants to lose some weight and the gameplay heavily focuses on the meals she constructs for herself.
You can watch Consume Me come together on its development blog.
Disordered eating isn’t synonymous with eating disorders — rather, it’s the sort of eating practices a person might engage in when they’re coping with an eating disorder, or when they’re restricting their diet in potentially unhealthy ways. In a 1999 study of 14-15-year-olds, researchers found that girls who engaged in the sorts of strict dieting practices explored by Consume Me were 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder within six months. Even moderate dieting was tied to a five times increase in the likelihood of developing an eating disorder in that time frame.
If you are dealing with disordered eating or an eating disorder, the best thing to do is to speak with a professional. You may also want to look into mindful eating practices – Eating Disorders Victoria has more on that subject.