Games

'Cook, Serve, Delicious 3' Has the Right Recipe for a Distractible Mind

Though the game is notoriously stressful, it scratches an itch that nothing else does.
February 17, 2020, 1:15pm
An image of a boba tea from the video game Cook, Serve, Delicious 3
Cook, Serve, Delicious 3

Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 is only so much fun for me because it's so stressful. When I play the fast paced restaurant management game, I need to devote all of my brain power to the thing it asks of me—filling my holding stations, taking orders, pressing the corresponding keys to cook my dishes correctly and quickly, keeping an eye on all my timers so nothing burns. It reminds me of the way I used to shut out all distractions when I read as a child, to the frustrations of my mom who would call me for dinner over and over. I just couldn't hear her because I was concentrating so hard.

As an adult, I now know that was a symptom of my recently diagnosed ADHD, called hyperfocusing. I was never a disruptive kid, I just got bored very easily and had to make up little games for myself to stay conscious during the school day. When it came to reading, I almost never got bored, so I would focus way too intently and forget about other tasks. All these are symptoms of ADHD, and now I'm taking medication to help manage them alongside my regular coping mechanisms.

But the thing about hyperfocusing is that it feels really good to light up all the blinking lights that ADHD is constantly signaling in your brain. I love being occupied—it's better to be busy than be bored. Sometimes when I try to relax, I find that I'm actually full of restless energy that I can't get rid of. Cook, Serve, Delicious has scratched the hyperfocusing itch for me, and the third one has a simple features that turns the game into a soothing balm for my distractible brain.

In the latest Cook, Serve, Delicious, you're on a food truck that's making its way across a post apocalyptic United States. Customers send in their orders while you're driving to their stop, and you can also fill holding stations with foods that don't need to be cooked to order. The two robots who drive the truck can also help you out. When you make it to your stop, by pressing the control key you are able to serve every single customer whose food is ready at once. Because of your holding stations, that's sometimes every single customer at the window.

Pressing control in these cases feels so good I want to scream. It's like checking off everything on your to do list at once. It makes the precarious systems of Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 run smoothly for just a few seconds, just long enough to let the stress mounting at the edges of my brain fade away so I can dig into concentrating on my keystrokes. This must be what people who like ASMR feel when they hear acrylic nails tapping on a mechanical keyboard: a peace so all encompassing that you feel a little high.

I wish someone had figured out that I have ADHD as a child, but like most women, my symptoms never presented like the stereotypical hyperactive boy child that was then the image of ADHD. I wasn't hyperactive in the slightest, and my grades were generally good. The problems came later, when I went to college and couldn't figure out how to track all of my deadlines, or stay awake in required classes I found boring. But learning about how to manage my ADHD symptoms also means looking for the positives in terms of what I have to deal with every day. Sure, sometimes I get so wrapped up in something that I don't even notice the time passing, but that also means that when I'm interested in something, I stick with it. Right now, I want to be the best chef in the post-World War III America of Cook, Serve, Delicious, and all my customers are going to get their orders exactly on time.