Debates and between meat-eaters and vegetarians/vegans have went on for a very long time, but what happens when this spills over into the gaming world? When Cooking Mama first made its debut, there were organisations, such as PETA, who took a stand against this particular game. Controversy was what Cooking Mama sparked in its release.
Cooking Mama is a cooking simulator game for the Nintendo DS released in 2006. This game features mini tasks that the player completes to cook meals, unlock challenges, and even decorate their kitchen. The first release of this series received mostly positive reviews, with only a few criticisms. It seemed that from critics and fans, there were only smaller complaints such as it being only a single-player game. Since its release, there have been multiple spin-offs and sequels due to the first game’s success.
However, there were larger groups who felt the need to take a stand against this newly released game. PETA felt that by the game using meat and dairy in their recipes, this was cruel treatment towards the animals being harmed in the process. Despite the fact that no cruelty or animal abuse was shown in the game, they still felt the need to take a stand. In response to Cooking Mama, PETA made a parody called “Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals”, showing the cruel treatment that the animals endured in the process of these simple and easy meals being prepared. They wanted to do something over-the-top the prove their point towards being vegan and animal cruelty.
Majesco from Cooking Mama was quick to respond to this parody, stating that Cooking Mama has over 25 vegetarian meals included. Through Cooking Mama herself is not a vegetarian, she does not believe in animal cruelty in any way and whole-heartedly believes in the humane treatment of animals.
After this controversy spun off and eventually got settled, a spin-off game was released called Gardening Mama, which PETA was pleased about. I believe that PETA’s mission for the humane treatment of animals is something we can all agree on; however, their actions towards a children’s cooking game was a bit much. No animal cruelty was shown in Cooking Mama, and the game focused on preparing wholesome meals and snacks. Eating meat is still a very common practice around the world, so shutting down all practices of eating meat in the gaming world would be virtually impossible and unfair to those who believe that eating meat and dairy is okay. We cannot expect an entire culture to conform to one standard or type just because one large organisation believes that way.
Despite this chaos involving Cooking Mama and PETA, the game had a great start which led to many spin-offs and sequels. It had generally positive reviews and is a memorable and well-known game for gamers and Nintendo fans alike. Through it may have sparked lots of controversy, it’s a title that made its mark in the gaming world. It created a sub-genre of mini-task cooking games that are still being made today.