Venba: A new narrative cooking game

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Fluffy white paniyarams , steaming biryani, grated coconut and an incomplete recipe chart with instructions to grind rice, flit between the scenes to a foot-tapping folk rhythm. A woman is at the centre of it all, meticulously chopping, grinding and frying.

The 40-second, animated short gives a glimpse into the day-to-day of a family of three — a couple and their child. Food is almost a character, here. When Venba creator Abhi started telling the story of his upcoming Nintendo Switch game, it was clear that there was much more to this cooking game that explored South Indian cuisine. This is a story that revolves around Tamilian Venba, who left India and started a life in Canada, along with her husband Paavalan, with very few resources to raise a son in a foreign land, and the sacrifices she made to keep the family together despite all the hardships. Venba’s story is told over the course of several years as she restores her mother’s recipe book and teaches her young son to cook.

A GLIMPSE INTO VENBA’S LIFE

The game often features narratives based on the settings of the house, and as a result players get a glimpse into Venba’s life, whether it’s the calendar hanging on the wall, something in Tamil, or a room filled with books since Paavalan. author. “I didn’t want to show stereotypical elements as portrayed in the movies. I just looked at how my house or my friend’s house looked.”

“In a game, you can’t just tell a story, you need something to play with. The game has a series of days and each day happens at different points in their lifetime. So, I thought it would be interesting if we tell the story of what happened each day, through food. No matter what happens, whether there is a fight or not in the family, the kitchen is still on,” adds Abhi.

Much of the media attention has focused on the younger Asian American population. However, Abhi feels that the struggles of his parents’ generation are not shown properly or are sometimes completely cast aside. “The game sheds light on what their struggles might be and what they might think,” he says. “HE [Venba] It’s like a mix of many mothers we see here in our own families,” she adds.

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