Who doesn’t love a good salad? Salad Bar gives players the opportunity to select from a delicious assortment of leafy greens and toppings. Or no greens at all – your choice! Perhaps you want ranch dressing drizzled over tomatoes and chicken, or perhaps you’re in the mood for croutons and watercress over beets, with a sprinkle of bleu cheese and olive oil? Your choices are limited only by the limits of your imagination.
Salad Bar is not simply a game about salad, however. It is also a Choicescript game that challenges the very definition of “choice” itself. Salad Bar invites the player to reassess the ways in which conventional understandings of “choice” both empower and restrain individuals from expressing their true wants and actualizing their own interests. If you are selecting from a predetermined array of foodstuffs, for example, are you really exercising a choice, or merely acting a part in a play written by the “other” who actually possesses agency? Is the entire “choice” structure merely a charade? Can choice be said to exist in a normative sense when the entire game has been written by someone else? Perhaps trainee salad bar technician Tifiny, or assistant restaurant manager Mohammed, are the playwrights here? Or are they?
Likewise, your personal characteristics themselves act to both affirm and challenge societal norms regarding appearance, identity and consumption. What message does eating a “salad” convey within the context of such markers as gender, age and weight? Who determines that narrative? Does returning for seconds trigger the same cultural reactions regardless of who is doing the eating? Perhaps you shouldn’t eat at all? Or should you?
Try it now and find out. Beware, however, that Salad Bar may not be appropriate for younger players due to graphic descriptions of obscene sexual conduct, recurring vignettes of rabid mob violence, and a pointed rebuttal of Harutoonian’s thesis that Japanese interwar efforts at cultural hegemony contributed directly to racially derogatory American wartime propaganda.