@lovethynerd
Love Thy Nerd
Love Nerds + Engage Culture + Build Community

Stuck at Home with Kids? This Frustrating Game Might Make You a Better Parent

The list of things I am frustrated about with regard to COVID-19 is super long, which makes it all the more important to take inventory of the good that has come out of this challenging time. One of the greatest things about COVID-19 for many, including myself, is the time it has provided for us to spend with our families. So I’ve been thinking about what games we could play together that, more than just a good time, would help us grow in our understanding and love for one another. Instead we decided to play Overcooked.

I am being dramatic, I actually love Overcooked and our experience actually has helpfully challenged me to be a more understanding and patient parent. Let me explain by first sharing one of our experiences with the game:

“Chop these three onions. I need all three of them chopped.”

“I’ll wash the dishes.”

“We don’t have any dirty dishes yet. I need you chopping onions.”

“Daddy, when you finish the soup, can I take it to the counter?”

“Sure, but I need you chopping onions right now. What are you doing with that tomato!?”

“Should I chop this tomato?”

“Silly Bug, we need one more onion or this soup is going to burn.”

“Ok Daddy, I am getting the onion.”

Overcooked … not only requires players to work together but to actively acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Things get crazy pretty quickly in Overcooked, the popular cooperative speed cooking game. Initially you are cooking in simple kitchens but before long you are in a kitchen made up of two food trucks speeding down a highway. Each truck possesses several essential tools or supplies that you need to complete your recipes. The two trucks periodically separate from one another, dividing tools, supplies, and even players. Success requires careful planning for those moments when the trucks are separated and game awareness to make the most of those moments when they are together. My daughter hates this level.

My daughter just turned six and doesn’t possess the fine motor skills to consistently press up on the thumb stick of the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con in the exact right direction while simultaneously holding X. She also doesn’t want to practice the observational awareness to realize the importance of paying close attention to Overcooked’s HUD, which is constantly giving players the order of operations required to maximize their score. And the food truck levels aren’t nearly as intimidating as Overcooked’s latter levels:

My wife, who did not grow up playing video games, finds some of Overcooked’s control mechanics frustrating—they don’t come naturally to her like they do to me. This isn’t a complaint about the game itself, since its control scheme is pretty simple compared to most modern games. The experience simply illustrates how often video games assume an established vocabulary among their players. My wife and I are probably equal in terms of our game awareness, but due to my much longer tenure playing games, I am probably the person in our family best equipped to succeed at Overcooked.

If I am honest, the first few times the three of us played together were maddening:

“I will be in charge of chopping, you worry about watching the pots and filling the bowls.”

“Evelyn, you take the finished dishes to the counter, ok?”

“I want to be in charge of washing dishes.”

“Ok, but we also need you to take this dish the counter, okay? Evelyn, why are you running around in circles?”

For my daughter Evelyn, video games are typically about the experience, not skill. This was the case with Overcooked, at least until she started noticing stars. Overcooked, like most games, awards players based on their performance. These awards come in the form of stars granted based on the number of orders completed within each round’s allotted time. These small rewards motivated her to move more quickly and listen to my requests more intently. It’s slightly alarming how little we have to reward human beings in order to motivate them but that’s a whole other article.

Before long, my wife and I were carefully formulating a plan that would allow her and I to handle the most complex tasks while still giving our daughter a less intensive but equally important role. The result was still frequently chaotic thanks to Overcooked’s many curve balls and my daughter’s tendency to go off script. However, the three of us managed to get the maximum three stars on a handful of levels.

At its core, Overcooked is a pretty effective team-building exercise. It not only requires players to work together but to actively acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t get me wrong, when I ask for an onion and get a tomato, I get agitated. Overcooked can be pretty frustrating in that sense, but those who stick with it will realize that success only comes when we learn to work with the skills and limitations of those around us. For me and my family, it asks us to make an extra effort to communicate with each other more carefully, patiently, and lovingly.





Co-founder | Chief Content Nerd
Drew is the Chief Content Nerd for Love Thy Nerd and the co-host of Humans of Gaming. He is also the editor of Explore the Bible: Students and co-hosts the weekly CaPC Digest podcast for Christ and Pop Culture. Drew has written for Paste Magazine, Relevant Magazine, Christianity Today, WORLD Magazine, and Think Christian. He lives in the Nashville, TN area with his wife and their three children.

Reader Comments

Related Content

Back Row 489 – 492 | What’s Killing Christianity?

Radio Matt & Mo take a look at 3 things that Christians are doing today that are making it so difficult to share the love of Christ. PLUS: Weird News, Games, Stories, and more!

Back Row | Week 155 | Could A.I. Develop a Soul?

In this extended season finale episode, Radio Matt & Mo take a look at the LaMDA Google AI and the engineer who was suspended for releasing transcripts of his discussion with the AI in which the AI claims to be sentient and have a soul. Is this possible? What exactly counts as a "soul" anyway?

Back Row | Week 154 | Invading Reddit (Round 2)

Since joining Love Thy Nerd, Radio Matt & Mo have been exploring the depths of their nerdiness. But they have also come to realize that there are several areas where their nerdiness comes up… shallow. Of course, not all nerds like all nerd things, but it's never a bad time to try to expand our knowledge on subject we don’t understand. This week, Radio Matt & Mo will be taking a deeper look into parts of nerd culture they are less familiar with and see if there is something there that interests them.

Back Row | Week 153 | Nerds We Don’t Understand (Yet)

Since joining Love Thy Nerd, Radio Matt & Mo have been exploring the depths of their nerdiness. But they have also come to realize that there are several areas where their nerdiness comes up… shallow. Of course, not all nerds like all nerd things, but it's never a bad time to try to expand our knowledge on subject we don’t understand. This week, Radio Matt & Mo will be taking a deeper look into parts of nerd culture they are less familiar with and see if there is something there that interests them.

Back Row | Week 152 | Moon Knight, the MCU & Mental Health

As the Marvel Cinematic Universe had progressed and expanded on Disney+, we keep seeing shows and movies diving deeper into the mental health of our heroes. In honor of Mental Health Awareness week, Radio Matt & Mo use the MCU as a launchpad for some deeper discussions.

Back Row | Week 151 | 20 Life Lessons from the Batman Movies

With the Phenomenal Success of The Batman - the latest incarnation of the Caped Crusader played by ol’ sparkly cheeks himself - Robert Pattinson - we are reminded of all the big screen batmen that have come before him - and the lessons those movies taught us. This week, Radio Matt & Mo will look at the 4 largest Batman movie franchises and see just what these tales from Gotham can show us about ourselves.

Back Row | Week 150 | Funny, Awkward & Embarrassing Church Camp Stories

Summer is approaching fast and with that, for many of our teenagers, comes church camp. Some will go for a week, some will go all Summer long. Memories will be made, hearts will be renewed, arms will be broken, and at least one couple will be caught making out behind the chow hall. After two weeks of intense topics, this week, Radio Matt & Mo are diving into those mountain top moments, those unforeseen injuries, and those inappropriate purples of Church Camp.

Back Row | Week 149 | Lessons from the Rise & Fall of Mars Hill (Part 2)

Mike Cosper and Christianity Today have recently wrapped up one of the most popular Christian podcasts in history chronicling Mark Driscoll and the story of his former church - Mars Hill. This tale is quite the cautionary one, raising a lot of concerns that Churches, leaders, and every Christian should think about before they are faced with them in their own lives.