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THE GESTURAL ECONOMY
OF COOKING MAMA
Luke van Ryn
School of Culture and Communication
University of Melbourne

l.vanryn@st...
CONTENTS
Coding gestures
2. Nintendo DS
3. Cooking Mama
4. Gestural Economy
1.
1. CODING GESTURES
Tools – Routines – Gestures
Tools
Routines
Gestures
2. THE NINTENDO DS
controllers – affordances - technics
controllers
Nintendo DS (2003)
Touch screens…
…how do they work?
Affordances
3. COOKING MAMA
Franchise – Gameplay - Economy
Cooking Mama (Office Create/Majesco, 2006)
Sequels
2007

2009

2009

2011
Other platforms
Nintendo Wii, 2007

Apple iOS, 2009
Gameplay – input
Tap

Draw
Gameplay – output
Opening instant noodle cups

Deep frying prawns
Results
Absences
4. GESTURAL ECONOMY
Abstraction – effort – control
Palm Graffiti
Minority Report
The Jetsons
Control
Into the universe of technical gestures
THE GESTURAL ECONOMY
OF COOKING MAMA
Luke van Ryn
School of Culture and Communication
University of Melbourne
l.vanryn@stu...
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The Gestural Economy of Cooking Mama

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Gestures are at the heart of cooking: cooks draw on embodied routines to produce food, and that production is itself seen as a gesture: of love, of competency, of self-expression. Gestures are also at the heart of the Cooking Mama series of games for the Nintendo DS handheld console: the player taps the screen to chop carrots, drags ingredients from benchtop to bowl, and describes circles with the stylus to mix ingredients together.
This paper examines the encoding of gesture into Cooking Mama. It argues that Cooking Mama is well situated for assessing the place of code in our life with media. It raises concerns about the encoding of techniques into an ever-finer array of technologies, and a simultaneous expansion of gaming into ever-wider arenas of everyday life. These games are situated within a history of cultural technologies through a reading of Luce Giard, in which the cybernetic flavour of Giard’s conception of knowledge and routine is enhanced. They also need to be understood, however, in context of the Nintendo DS platform and its specific affordances of touch and gesture. An analysis of the design and operation of the DS’s touchscreen interface complicates divisions between gesture and signal, and between bodily routines and computational codes. At the same time, the dependency of code upon an executor, whether human or non-human, complicates questions of determinacy.
Bringing together a platform analysis of the DS interface with culturalist accounts of practice and habit, I hope to show the usefulness of Cooking Mama for thinking of our life in and with media. The term “gestural economy,” ported from phonetics discourses, is proposed to account at once for the formal simplicity of Cooking Mama’s gestures and their abstraction from the familiar routines of everyday life.

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The Gestural Economy of Cooking Mama

  1. 1. THE GESTURAL ECONOMY OF COOKING MAMA Luke van Ryn School of Culture and Communication University of Melbourne l.vanryn@student.unimelb.edu.au @myspaceghost
  2. 2. CONTENTS Coding gestures 2. Nintendo DS 3. Cooking Mama 4. Gestural Economy 1.
  3. 3. 1. CODING GESTURES Tools – Routines – Gestures
  4. 4. Tools
  5. 5. Routines
  6. 6. Gestures
  7. 7. 2. THE NINTENDO DS controllers – affordances - technics
  8. 8. controllers
  9. 9. Nintendo DS (2003)
  10. 10. Touch screens…
  11. 11. …how do they work?
  12. 12. Affordances
  13. 13. 3. COOKING MAMA Franchise – Gameplay - Economy
  14. 14. Cooking Mama (Office Create/Majesco, 2006)
  15. 15. Sequels 2007 2009 2009 2011
  16. 16. Other platforms Nintendo Wii, 2007 Apple iOS, 2009
  17. 17. Gameplay – input Tap Draw
  18. 18. Gameplay – output Opening instant noodle cups Deep frying prawns
  19. 19. Results
  20. 20. Absences
  21. 21. 4. GESTURAL ECONOMY Abstraction – effort – control
  22. 22. Palm Graffiti
  23. 23. Minority Report
  24. 24. The Jetsons
  25. 25. Control
  26. 26. Into the universe of technical gestures
  27. 27. THE GESTURAL ECONOMY OF COOKING MAMA Luke van Ryn School of Culture and Communication University of Melbourne l.vanryn@student.unimelb.edu.au @myspaceghost

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