Imagine the most random, inane, superficial little detail you can think of in a video game.
Was it... soda vending machines?
Probably not! After all, who actually notices all those little soda-dispensing contrivances peppered here and there when we have more important things to be thinking about... like killing zombies, saving the planet, or roundhouse-kicking some guy to the head?
Well, apparently there are some people who notice those carbonated beverage dispensers. In fact, they do more than notice them... they've chronicled them! In a blog called the Video Game Soda Machine Project.
Why does this even exist? The Video Game Soda Machine Project documents every soda vending machine found in video games.
The Video Game Soda Machine Project was created by Jess Morrissette, a professor of political science at Marshalls University and an amateur game developer. On the blog's about page, in regards to why anyone would catalogue soda vending machines in video games, he simply wrote "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
And what an idea!
The online database of video game soda machines is extensive. Vast! To date, it has examples of soda vending machines from 330 different games on multiple consoles and platforms. That's a lot of vending machines!
But where did it all start?
That's a good question! After all, why would anyone randomly decide to start such a collection? In an interview with CBC Radio, Jess explained:
"I first got interested in this idea while I was playing a game called Batman: Arkham Knight. And in this very dark, grim game I turned a corner and saw a really bright, colorful soda machine there in this very dark room. And I thought to myself, 'oh, that's kind of interesting aesthetically, how they've used that,' and I took a screenshot of it and posted it to Twitter with a little note saying, 'Hey, someone should start making a master list of all of these soda machines that appear in video games.' And from there it just started to grow and grow."
Pop culture through... pop?
When your attention is actually drawn to those soda machines strewn about in video games, all sorts of observations can be made. For instance, some games use actual soda and drink brands. Other games make up their own silly (or not so silly) soda brands that fit in with the world of the game. Still others don't use names at all, preferring to use blank planes of color without making a reference to any certain type of drink.
Equally as fun to observe are the different variations of soda machine based on location. For instance, those of us in the U.S. may be most familiar with the type of vending machine shown in the images above, but vending machines in Japan tend to look... well, a bit different. In fact, the difference is so striking, you can pretty much identify a game's location simply by clocking its vending machines!
Forget about location—what about time period? The fifties! The sixties! Some games set in the bygone days (but not too bygone) will sport their own retro vending machines to match with the times. There's nothing that says "immersion" more than an exact replica of the time's vending machines to really get you thirsty for some carbonated sugar water.
Some of the most interesting soda machines in video games, however, are those custom-designed to fit into the game world. You'll never find soda machines like these in real life! Can you imagine being an artist on a game and having to design a unique vending machine of all things? I guess it's better than being asked to design a trash can... and some artists certainly have had fun with it.
What's the point of having this giant catalogue of video game soda machines?
Sure, it's cool. Sure, it's interesting to look at all the different designs, to laugh at some of the humor, to see how soda machine representation in video games (I can't believe I just wrote that) has evolved throughout the years. But...
...what's the point of having all this data?
Jess, himself, has pondered this question as well:
"I have given some thought to how I might make use of this data. As a political scientist, when I start to see a database come together, which is essentially what this project has generated, my mind immediately goes to, 'well how can I analyze this data?' "
Though even in the man in question isn't sure how to answer this question.
"Certainly, there's a wide range of journals out there today publishing work on video game studies, popular culture, on material culture, like how the stuff we interact with on a daily basis represents aspects of our cultural being. Making that leap, not just to talking about something that many people might see as somewhat frivolous, a soda machine, and saying , 'well now I'm going to talk about it in the context of these digital worlds,' may seem like a bit of a stretch but I do think that there's certainly interesting research to be done on it."
Nevertheless, whether there is a valid use for this data in the future or not, it's still pretty damn fun browsing all those pictures of video game vending machines! Screw legitimate purposes!
What other video game details need their own databases?
Now begs the question—why stop at soda vending machines? Video games are rife with inane details that could all be given their time in the limelight.
Like YouTube user pannenkoek2012 did when he ran a complete analysis on the blinking mechanisms in Super Mario 64. Who in their right mind would need or want to know how often which sprites blink in Super Mario 64? Certainly not I, but there appears to be an appreciative audience! And if you've never seen his "Watch for Falling Rocks," video, you'll want to check that out as well... just be prepared to be astounded by ridiculously minute Super Mario 64 game mechanism details!
What other game details would make for interesting databases? All the plant life used in video games organized by their genus species? Every single NPC—their paths, their goals, their lives? How about shoes?! Everyone loves shoes! I want a catalogue with screenshots of every game character's shoes!
The possibilities are endless! But perhaps our attention spans won't be after the fifth or sixth giant list of inane game details. Ah, well. We only have soda vending machines to worry about for now, so I guess we won't get too burnt out.
Check out more video game details in the form of easter eggs here on Now Loading:
- From Doge to Fallout, Here All The Awesome Easter Eggs In 'Deus Ex: Mankind Divided'
- 'Batman: The Telltale Series' Episode 1 Easter Eggs That You Might Have Missed
- Black Ops 3 Zombies Revelations: Can You Crack The Final Easter Egg?