What's The Secret Behind New Mobile Game EAT: THE REVOLUTION?

Imagine a cloister full of Gregorians chanting this word at you.
Imagine a cloister full of Gregorians chanting this word at you. Crows Crows Crows

EAT: THE REVOLUTION is a puzzling release, even for Crows Crows Crows (founded by William Pugh, co-designer of The Stanley Parable), a developer known for strange experiences like Dr. Langeskov and Accounting, their VR collaboration with Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland.

Released Friday for Android and iOS, EAT: THE REVOLUTION is simultaneously a mundane and baffling experience. After a Gregorian-style choral command to “Eaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat,” you are presented food items on a black background. Tap the screen to watch cartoon bites gobble up whole cartons of eggs, avocado halves, cupcakes and little bowls of golden raisins. Satisfying crunches accompany each bite and when finished “you” make satisfied smacking noises, not dissimilar from Hannibal Lecter’s thbpt-thbpt-thbpt after consuming a census taker with fava beans and chianti.

These eggs were good.
These eggs were good. Crows Crows Crows

But eating is only half the mystery. Between dishes, EAT: THE REVOLUTION serves up little aphorisms like “FEAST ON HOPE” or “DO NOT TRUST YOUR PAIN.” Some sound like retasked food lobby slogans, others hint more overtly at revolution: “THE VASTNESS OF THE NEW COUNTRY CALLS YOU.” One points to a potential Eat villain, either metaphorical or literal:

Point me at 'im.
Point me at 'im. Crows Crows Crows

There’s not much more to it than that. Were it not for hints pointing to something larger, EAT would play like an incremental idle clicker stripped of anything but the clicking. Absent game mechanics, the text insinuations, pointing to something dangerous and society-scaled, induces the same creepy-crawling sensation as those inhuman, child-targeting, algorithm-gaming YouTube videos you might have heard about recently. We’re left with the sensation that we’re playing and seeing something not quite meant for us.

So what the hell is really going on with EAT? Marketing material sent out to the Crows Crows Crows mailing list offer an explanation almost as cryptic as playing:

“EAT is the ultimate disruption of the hierarchical power structure at the heart of society. Those who own the means of production rule the masses. In the cruel world of UNCLE HUNGER, we are truly all slaves…

But with EAT we are passing the power into your hands.

EAT works outside the broken system of NASTY NASTY CAPITALISM. You can download EAT for zero currency on the App Store or Google Play.

EAT is not a game. EAT is so much more than a game. EAT is a food revolution - we expect to receive a formal offer from DELIVEROO in just about 3… 2… 1…”

Within this fictional narrative (again, only in their marketing email, not in the actual game), Deliveroo does indeed step forward, but with a threat rather than a buyout offer. An embedded email within the email reads, in part:

“What you’re doing is against natural order. I’ve informed my boss, UNCLE HUNGER, and we and the ALLIANCE OF REAL PEOPLE will never allow you to succeed. Stop what you are doing now or face the consequences.”

Again, like in-app, we find hints of a larger conflict, but only new information to leave us more bewildered than before.

Rather than trying to understand the exact threat presented by Uncle Hunger and his Alliance of Real People, it’s probably best to understand EAT as an art object and veiled commentary on industrialized food and consumerism. It’s something you can tap for 30 seconds for a chuckle and a moment or two of goosebumps, as if you’re probing the invisible contours of a conspiracy.

It’s also possible EAT is a tie-in app, meant to whet our appetite for an upcoming game release (though there’s no reason that should discount from EAT as a standalone curiosity). “Since we made it free we will have to come up with a new genius plan to FINALLY START MAKING $$$,” the Crows Crows Crows EAT announcement email concludes. “Give us a week or two and we’ll come back to you with our next MONEY MAKING SCHEME… Definitely do not watch The Game Awards preshow next week on Thursday.”

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