In an age when we do the majority of our multiplayer gaming online, sometimes separated by entire oceans and continents, there’s nothing quite like a bit of couch co-op or split-screen multiplayer. I refer, of course, to the act of playing games together in the same room using a single screen; something that until the arrival of cheap, reliable internet was the only form of multiplayer video gaming there was. Make a night of it with a few chilled drinks, snacks and a couple of pizzas, and you and your gamer pals are in for a great time.
But with this infinitely more sociable form of gaming there also comes great danger: the risk of gross, greasy controllers. I’m sure many of you can recall taking a controller from a friend or sibling during a long afternoon playing Street Fighter II only to find it positively dripping with perspiration. What’s even worse is when said hand sweat is mixed up with pizza grease and cheesy powder from the endless bags of Doritos and Cheetos you and your friends have been working your way though.
It is time, my gamer friends, to learn to use chopsticks.
Despite the efforts of the talented people behind online multiplayer hits like Call of Duty, Halo and Diablo, playing games right next to your pals, arguing over the last few slices of pizza or whose turn it is to get the next round of drinks from the fridge, is arguably far more fun than playing with the same people over the internet. You may not get the entire screen to yourself, and fewer and fewer games offer couch co-op modes these days, but it’s nothing short of gaming bliss.
When it comes to playing video games, though, our gamer friends over at sister site RocketNews24 Japan argue that using chopsticks for snacking is not so much preferable as pure common sense.
Not just limited to couch-based multiplayer where controllers are shared, chopsticks are an absolute must for any prolonged gaming session during which you’ll need to refuel your physical (as opposed to your avatar’s) health meter. You might not notice it at first, but step away from the game for a minute to answer the call of nature or take a phone call and you’ll soon discover that your controller is a sticky mess of everything you’re eating with your hands or have already eaten and are now sweating back out.
“There really is nothing better than becoming completely engrossed in a game and snacking on chips and cola,” our resident gamers comment, “but controllers get completely covered with grease when you do this. If you use chopsticks to eat your snacks, though, it’s possible to play video games without making a mess. In fact *not* using chopsticks really is such a noob thing to do.”
Those not accustomed to using chopsticks may struggle at first, but stick with it. Not only will it make your gaming experiences far more pleasant during the sticky summer months, but you’ll be learning a new life skill and will be able to show off your ninja abilities when you next go out for sushi or ramen.
Here are a few tips from the pros to get you started:
- 1. Keep your chopsticks with their ends inside the chip bag, and make a habit of placing said bag close to your dominant hand. Drinks can be handled with the other, or invest in a set of extra-long drinking straws. This will also make you sexier, don’t worry.
- 2. Wooden ‘waribashi‘ chopsticks that you break apart to use are by far the best for tackling fiddly foods like chips owing to their slightly rougher, straight edges. If you’re in Japan, waribashi can be picked up for free at convenience stores or donburi shops that have takeaway services, otherwise you can pick them up in multipacks from dollar/100 yen stores for next to nothing.
- 3. If you’re an absolute chopstick novice, or are working with smaller chips that tend to fragment and get stuck at the bottom of the bag, decant your chips into a large, high-sided bowl. Anything ceramic or with a weighted base will work. This will prevent the chips from sliding away from you as you insert your chopsticks or struggle to catch any remaining stragglers.
- 4. Corn chips and puffed corn snacks are far easier to pinch between sticks than classic potato chips, so start off with something you can manage.
- 5. Take your time and fight the temptation to grab a fistful. Like learning to touch-type, it’ll be hard not to slip back into your old habits, but with a little perseverance you’ll get there. And if you don’t, you could always hire someone to thrust chips directly into your shout hole while you play.
Of course there are some gamers, our Japanese columnist tells us, who forgo chips that come in bags altogether, opting to buy only Pringles or Japan’s own Chip Star brands since they can be poured directly from the tube into the mouth. It’s at this point, however, that we would like to remind you that yes, we gamers may get a little too carried away with our hobby from time to time, and we may skip the occasional shower when we can’t tear ourselves away until it’s gone 3 a.m., but we are not animals.
Shun the pourers, embrace the chopsticks, keep your controllers clean and chip-free. Happy gaming, boys and girls.