Welcome to Cafe Murder
Madison Papp / August 12th, 2013
Flying gourmet sandwich toppings, a murderous chef, and clusters of hungry customers fill Cafe Murder, the latest full-fleged iPhone gaming app from business partners and creators Zack Wood and Eli McPherson-Burke. The latter first came up with the idea for the game while working at Big City Bread, a bakery in Athens, Georgia. He then emailed the idea to Wood, who at the time was teaching English in Japan. Wood began to develop the game’s characters, using the skills he picked up while studying at the Story Manga Department at Kyoto Seika University. From there, the two childhood friends were on their way to creating a game that represents stress and satisfaction intertwined in the multifaceted foodservice industry.
According to co-creator Wood (who developed the web comic EAT), “Making people happy with food is the focus of Cafe Murder, and that’s also a passion for me in real life.” Within the numerous levels of Cafe Murder, Wood’s care for the customer is clear: each customer in the game is accompanied by a profile that tracks individual customer satisfaction. While the chef, Stabby, slices and dices breads, cheeses, meats, and toppings, the counter girl, Rainy, assembles and serves the creations to hungry customers. If the customer does not receive his exact order and if order preparation takes too long, their satisfaction profile will note a decline. Other components also fuel customer satisfaction, such as restaurant cleanliness and protection from Stabby, who often leaves the kitchen space to attack and murder unsuspecting customers.
Cafe Murder was supported with a Kickstarter campaign (an online funding platform) while the game was in the development stages. A few backers pledged $300 each and were featured as customers in the game, while others pledged amounts for original game sketches and limited-edition T-shirts. In return for pledging $1,600, a single supporter of Cafe Murder was able to choose an ingredient featured in the game. To Wood and his developer’s surprise, it was McPherson-Burke’s grandmother came up with the cash—all in the name of her much-loved sandwich topping: potato chips.
Wood believes that McPherson-Burke’s experience “working in the foodservice industry served as some inspiration for the idea of an insane chef who wants to kill customers.” Much like the industry, the game mimics the day-to-day multitasking in restaurants. Wood explains that much of the chaos found in Cafe Murder stems from “Pressure Cooker, a game for Atari, where a chef makes sandwiches from ingredients flying across the room”—a scenario that chefs are all too familiar with.