There's been a Call of Duty game every year since 2005. As the Call of Duty series has gone on, year after year, the spirit of the mid-2000s has carried over to the new decade. And while the consoles and technology might change, the combination of Call of Duty, all-nighters, and junk food is eternal.
On the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 subreddit, players are sharing the snacks they've "stockpiled" for the annual run through a new Call of Duty game. The foodstuffs range from chips and candy to healthier options like water and vegetable dip. After all, you can't eat like you're a teenager even when you first started playing Call of Duty while you were one.
The diverse diets and snack choices show a diversity in players. Some are older and choose to avoid junk food altogether, while some haven't strayed from the cheesy dusted path. But the tradition of snacks, late-night gaming, and dusty basement LAN parties evoke a strange type of nostalgia. And it kind of begins with South Park.
While video games and junk food go together like XP bonus codes and Red Bull cans, it feels like gaming's relationship with food changed sometime in the last couple of years. As streamer and video culture became more prominent in games, the idea of a gamer changed with them. If Ninja defines what a video gamer is in the 2010s, the South Park episode about World of Warcraft defined gamers in the mid-2000s. And food plays an interesting role for both personas.
"You should ONLY eat if you're on a break of have your mic muted," streamer TheKeenPhilosopher writes in an r/Twitch subreddit post discussing the question of eating during a stream. "I once ate chicken wings on stream. They're not exactly the best food for eating gracefully. After I watched the VOD, I realized that was a mistake. It's disgusting, messy, and... yeah, you get the idea," says KZ.FREW.
Twitch streamers, the most public-facing gamers in 2018, declining to eat while broadcasting changes the image of today's gamers in a subtle way. I realized while looking at the snackpiles posted by Call of Duty players that I haven't associated video games with junk food in a long time. Partly because my own gaming habits changed and I try to avoid snacks, but also because streamers may have subtly overwrote my idea of a gamer.
And while the Twitch viewership numbers for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 clearly show an eager hunger for Black Ops 4 content on Twitch, for the thousands of players picking up Black Ops 4 today it will be the same as it has been since 2007: Snacks, all-nighters, and LAN parties.
Seeing Call of Duty players share their all-night video game plans where binge-eating and binge-playing go hand in hand is a reminder of a simpler time. It's appropriate that the tradition is being carried annually with the release of each new Call of Duty game. Almost like 2005 is alive and well in 2018.