The ‘Food Practice Shooter,’ presented at the 2013 Tokyo Game Show, demonstrates how gaming in the virtual world can be used to influence real-world habits. In the case of the ‘FPS’, vegetable-eating is incorporated as an integral part of the game.
The mastermind behind the project, Takayuki Kosaka, is an assistant professor at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology, and wanted to use something that we know kids enjoy, namely video games, as an incentive to encourage healthy eating habits. The game equipment includes a gun controller with a camera, a set of headphones with sensors targeted at the wearer’s cheeks, and a set of digital scales which must be filled with three different vegetables before game play.
Game play incorporates both the digital and analog worlds. Players venture through a city invaded by giant vegetables, with the goal of shooting the edible assailants. Upon each successful hit, the ammunition (of carrots, green peppers or tomatoes) must be replenished by consuming the appropriate vegetable — in real life.
After munching on one of the veggie snacks from the scales, the player must smile into the camera, which should slowly forge a positive connection with the food. These actions are converted into digital ammunition and game play can continue. Cheating is easily detected; the digital scales ensure that the vegetable is in fact removed, and the headphone sensors detect chewing.
The game system may be far off from mass production but could be used in institutional capacities, such as schools or camps.