Today's question was inspired by Food Week, our week-long celebration of eating in games. In this case, we're moving outside of games to what turned out to be quite a heated topic at PC Gamer: the things we eat while playing games. Does the best gaming snack need to be crumb and grease-free, or should nothing be sacrificed in the pursuit of flavor? Does health matter? Are jelly beans actually good or do people just sort of eat them because they're there?
Those questions and more are addressed in today's PCG Q&A: What is the absolute best gaming snack? Leave your answers and concerns about James in the comments.
Samuel Roberts: Salted peanuts. I'm going through a big peanut thing at the moment, after a prolonged period of eating various cheeses (Bavarian smoked, Emmenthal, even a ball of Mozzarella if it's a Big Saturday). While you have the perils of salty hands—which ideally you don't want on your mouse and keyboard—they're nice and moreish in between turns in XCOM, let's say. Though you better have a glass of water nearby.
I'd even go as far to suggest that turn-based games only exist so you can snack between turns. What other explanation could there be?
Alternatively, sweet chilli peanuts are also excellent, but more elusive in British supermarkets. This usually makes the choice for me.
Tim Clark: Samuel this is ridiculous. The peanuts are going to louse up the keyboard with salt and grease. Nut oil has no business near Cherry Reds unless you want your W, A, S, D to look like the Exxon Valdez. I have considered this topic quite a bit, and the best snacks are ones that can be consumed silently. Or at least quietly enough that your raid team doesn't know you're slurping and gnawing away. The correct answer is therefore jelly beans. Or potentially a bacon sandwich on soft white bread (with paper towels). But isn't that the right answer to everything?
Tyler Wilde: Tim, jelly beans are gross. I refuse to believe that people actually enjoy them.
Austin Wood: No, no, Tim's on the right track, while I fear Samuel's too far gone. The secret to a good gaming snack is cleanliness. That means no cheese dust, salt, sour powder or anything else that's gonna gunk up your keyboard or leave streaks on your mouse. Jelly beans are a good shout, but I'm partial to Hot Tamales, which are like jelly beans but made with cinnamon and therefore infinitely better. They're clean, tasty and quiet, and they double as breath mints.
Phil Savage: Snacks are for cowards. I once tried to eat a full English breakfast—black pudding and all—during a GTA Online heist with the PCG crew. And yes, sure, I crashed the plane I was flying into a mountain because I was too busy trying to surreptitiously eat a Cumberland sausage, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made in the name of a good, square meal.
Samuel Roberts: Let me be very clear: I eat the nuts straight out of the bag.
Joe Donnelly: Chewits. Chewits all day long. Slurping and slorping right into your mic because, fuck it, sometimes you've just got to embrace a Cola and Ice Cream flavour mashup. Bit fiddly with the wrappers, mind you, but a smart Chewitor unrolls a few full stickpacks and places them into a bowl before a lengthy gaming session. Do you get Chewits in the States? If you don't, track them down online and get 'em delivered. Get a European relative to bring them over at Christmas. Pay for my flights and I'll sort you out. Don't even think about settling for Starburst. They're not the same.
Tyler Wilde: Stop this. No more. The correct answer is obviously the humble seedless grape. One, unlike many of its relatives—the strawberry, the blueberry, the peach—the grape is juicy and refreshing without being messy. Drop one on your keyboard and it will bounce off harmlessly. Two, grapes contain antioxidants, which I've been told are good. Three, grapes are sugary, but you won't feel guilty about eating a bunch of them because at least they're not made of corn syrup, like jelly beans (which are gross). Four, once you've pierced the skin of a grape with your teeth, it goes down with minimal chewing and zero crunching, meaning your squadmates won't have to listen to your little mouth party—the same cannot be said about Chewits, jelly beans, nuts, or entire English breakfasts. Sorry to have destroyed you all with logic.
Jarred Walton: Logic has nothing to do with this, Tyler. The best snack to eat while gaming is your favorite snack, keyboards and squadmates be damned. For me, that means the original nacho cheese Doritos, though I'm good with just about any corn chip dipped in salsa. Of course, it helps that I'm a hermit when it comes to online games—I fly solo, and I don't use a headset or mic, and I can pause the game any time I want. Plus I know how to put the chips in a bowl, eat one at a time, and carefully lick my fingers before touching my keyboard again (only eating with my left hand, so my mouse is free to click around as needed). Because no one wants to end up with a keyboard that looks like this.
James Davenport: Imagining a glistening wet row of home keys and my stomach's turning.
Chris Livingston: I'm into gummi candy, which is a better snack for gaming than anything else listed here except maybe jelly beans, which is a great idea from Tim. First, there's no mess: no salt or grease from peanuts, no cheese dust, no stupid useless grape vines left over. Second, you can only eat so many gummis until it feels like you're going to puke, so there's no risk of overdoing it. And finally, buying a bag of gummi bears is an experience not unlike paying for a loot box. Will you get nice, soft, chewy gummis? Or will you get something that is tantamount to inedible, dense plastic? You never know! It's always an adventure. When you're gaming, always go gummi.
Tyler Wilde: What is wrong with you all?
James Davenport: My personal ecosystem is ever so fragile. I so much as catch a whiff of bread or cheese while I'm sitting and my works start spitting steam (farts and burps) and I get one-beer-woozy. So when it comes to eating while playing games, I need something that simulates the sensation of eating or having eaten more than actual food. The solution?
I only want the faintest hint of flavor, the implication of lemons or mangoes in my general vicinity. The deeply impacted taste of sparkling water is in spiritual alignment with PC chassis LEDs, too. You know that thing is outright juiced with light-emitting diodes, but all you catch is a hint of red on the back wall above your desk. Once you down a few water candles, all that carbonation makes your belly swell like a turkey found a way in there, somehow. As a bonus, sparkling water burps rarely offend. In fact, they're something of a biological Febreeze. Aim high and make your room smell like an orange died there in the 70s. Go to bed knowing you'll have to get up and pee, and that when you do, all that gamer piss is what kept you hydrated, satiated, and alert while actual 10-year-olds fueled by Hot Cheetos and pizza and jelly beans depreciated your self worth after a four-hour Fortnite marathon in which you had no fun and did not improve.
My runner-up: Greek Yogurt. It's light in calories, packing plenty of protein, and cheap as hell. Throw in some peanut butter and banana if you're feeling wild. You can literally live on this stuff. Got me through most of my young adulthood.
Tim Clark: OK now I'm worried about James.
Steven Messner: I was going to contribute something and then I read James' response and now I have nothing to say.
Jody Macgregor: I come back from holidays and you've all gone mad in my absence.