Order-fulfillment games: An analysis of games about serving customers

Mike Treanor, Mark J. Nelson (2019). Order-fulfillment games: An analysis of games about serving customers. In Proceedings of the International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games. (Forthcoming.)


Consider the set of games, which we'll call order-fulfillment games, where the player fulfills customers' orders in a food-service setting under time pressure. We will use BurgerTime (1982), Tapper (1983), Diner Dash (2004), and Overcooked (2016) as examples. We argue that, although these games don’t form a genre per se, they form a coherent taxonomic grouping defined by their core game loop, thematic elements, and typical player experiences. That these games share similarities may seem obvious, but we have found it illuminating to dig into precisely how this grouping is constituted, where its boundaries lie, and how it overlaps with well-recognized game genres. Besides analyzing this grouping for its own sake, a secondary contribution of this paper is as a case study in applying two analytical tools that have been proposed but little applied: Lessard's high-level design pattern formations and Sicart's version of the core game loop.

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