I'm not a gamer, but when I found out that Gordon Ramsay created a mobile game called Gordon Ramsay Dash, I had to play it, if only to hear him shout expletives like "f*cking doughnut". I downloaded the game on my iPhone and got to "work." The rules of the game are simple: cook up dishes that customers order, serve them in a timely manner (before the clock runs out), and try to obtain a perfect score of three "Wishelin" stars of service. As you unlock more levels and play more services, you can win more currency to purchase better ingredients and cooking equipment, more cooking hands, and new features for your avatar. The point of the whole game is to build an empire of restaurants around the world and compete against other chefs to be the best. It sounds kind of awesome, but is it fun? The short answer: YES. The first time I played, I lost myself for an hour. Here's the longer answer, complete with the reasons you'll want to play:
Gordon Ramsay Is a Large Presence in the Game
The first thing that I noticed is that Gordon and his voice are a large presence in the game. I won't deny I loved hearing him say encouraging things about my "cooking" or nudging me if I hadn't served a customer quickly enough. I haven't effed up enough yet for Gordon to go ballistic . . . but I'm sure that day will come soon enough.
The Game Has the Friendliest, Easiest User Experience I've Ever Encountered
The game does a good job of really baby-stepping the rules for you. For example, "Let's make a BLT together. Here are the exact steps to get it done," or "Here's a recommended piece of kitchen equipment you should buy." These prompts make for a nice and easy user experience. If you want to waltz through the game without thinking about things too much, you can! For me, I like a challenge and a game that makes my brain hurt a little. I would have actually loved the option of turning off the instructionals and learning by messing up repeatedly until Gordon steps in to share how the recipe is done.
The Mistakes You Make Are Laughable Rather Than Irritating
I had the most fun in the game when I effed up big time, like when I clicked on the wrong ingredients twice so both my hands were full and I didn't know how to set the food down. I had no choice but to let the clock run out; meanwhile, Gordon is yelling, "Come on!" Eventually, I discovered the waste bin and realized I could tap it to throw away whatever I accidentally picked up in my hand. Figuring out that trick felt way more exciting than getting three perfect stars on the level.
As I'm getting deeper into the levels, I'm developing a better sense of the ultimate challenge of the game. It's about remembering order (customers' orders and dish preparation order). A Gordon Ramsay Dash service feels very authentic to working the line at a restaurant. Playing the game evoked the same surge of adrenaline and concentration I experienced when working in kitchens years ago.
Personalizing Your Avatar Makes You Feel Like You're Playing The Sims
When you first begin, you don't get to create an avatar. The more you play, the more features are unlocked — including the ability to build your chef avatar, complete with facial structure, eye and hair colors, and uniform. Chef Ramsay spoke about how much he loved this feature in an interview with me:
"Designing your own avatar, so you have your own presence. It's a bit personal now. Chefs dress differently today, if it's not amazing artwork with tattoos, it's a beard. If it's not a beard it's a hairstyle. You've got that level of personality. You form a character. Chefs are packed with characters, whether it's Michael Voltaggio at Ink. Look at him with the tattoos, just how cool he is, and what he stands for. Whereas the serious Thomas Keller sort of eats, drinks, breathes, sleeps Napa Valley, and it's like military service precision in that kitchen."
The Graphics Are Adorable
The design of the food and kitchen is pretty spot-on. I'm only on the first restaurant, so I've only seen the burgers, chili bowl, BLT, etc. in terms of dishes, but it's like seeing food emoji. There's something so darn cute about seeing your favorite dishes in cartoon form.
I definitely see myself continuing to play this game and will likely try to encourage my sisters — who are big time Cooking Dash fans — to start playing, so we can eventually try the chef duels (which are unlocked in later levels). I'm pleasantly surprised by how entertaining Gordon Ramsay Dash is and — I can't believe I'm actually saying this — I look forward to building my own virtual restaurant empire!