“Fat World” is a sandbox game that allows the player to make diet and exercise choices that affect the health of his or her avatar. The game promotes the player to reflect on his or her diet and exercise habits, while displaying the connection of political, socio-economical, and health models.

Below is a detailed analysis of this game roughly following Brian Winn's1 Design/Play/Experience framework, including:


“Fat World” attempts:


    To persuade the users away from unhealthy eating habits and poor exercise routines. The game reinforces this by making fatter avatars move slower
    - Comments on the current social structure of the abundance of Fast Food chains and restaurants. If the player tries to maintain a healthy diet, he or she must struggle to get to the single Grocery Store, located deep inside “Fat World”, to buy food to eat. The placement of the grocery store suggests the player to have the willpower the pass the fast food joints to get healthier alternatives.
    - Comments on the current social structure of the abundance of Fast Food chains and restaurants. If the player tries to maintain a healthy diet, he or she must struggle to get to the single Grocery Store, located deep inside “Fat World”, to buy food to eat. The placement of the grocery store suggests the player to have the willpower the pass the fast food joints to get healthier alternatives.
    - To promote the awareness of knowing one’s daily food intake by providing a customizable meal plan. The transference of this technique will allow players to reflect on their eating habits and choices in real life to hopefully rethink their unhealthy choices in foods.
    - To hint at a social reconstruction of food preparation in order to have healthier choices when dining out. This objective is shown through the customizable menus at restaurants owned by the player, the choice of investing money in certain foods, and the ability to bribe politicians to ban or promote certain types of foods.


“Fat World” is a sandbox game where you are given the opportunity to decide what kind of life your avatar will lead. You may either choose to have them live healthfully, or destroy their lives and have them live miserably. The game challenges you to try to live to be 100 years old, however, it indicates that it is your choice whether or not to make it there.           

As the player, you are able to customize your avatar’s appearance, clothing, weight, age, allergies, and class. Weight and age influence the speed of the character in the game, while class influences the initial amount of money of character.

After customizing the bright and bubbly 3D avatar, the player is free to explore “Fat World” and live and he or she decides. The story supports the learning goals of the game because diet and exercise decisions are ultimately the individual’s choice. As a sandbox, the game should be open and free to choice. Where the concept didn’t translate was the freedom to decide where to eat. It is possible for the player to buy and run the restaurants, but not eat in them. The isometric world, the puffy lettering, cute avatars, the cartoony hand the serves as your cursor in menu options and brightly colored scenes indicate the game is targeted towards a young audience. The concept of the game provides a critical reaction to the rise of childhood obesity.


The player is given many opportunities including: working out, buying a house, buying restaurants, grocery shopping, and visiting the sites of “Fat World”. After buying a house, the player is given the option of creating a meal plan (by ‘entering’ the refrigerator) consisting of breakfast, lunch and dinner, that they will eat every day. To ‘consume’ this food, the player must shop at the Grocery Store for the items. If the items aren’t stocked in the player’s refrigerator, the player cannot eat the designated dish.

The player is also given the opportunity of making investments in health insurance, political bans and promotions of foods, and restaurants. The player may choose to bribe politicians to bans or promote certain foods. These choices influence the health of “Fat World.” Furthermore, a player can buy subsidiaries in foods. In restaurants, the character decides the menu and waits on the customers.

User Experience

The user interface was pretty straight forward even without the use of instructions, though there were many problems. At first glance you are presented with a nice bubbly cartoony interface and world that you can explore though the arrow keys. Becuase of the isometric view you are most of the time holding down 2 keys at once; this a slight nuianse but not a deal breaker.

The main problem comes with the glitches and non-sensical text. Depending on which menu or screen you on, the exit button would be in a different location, so the user would have to try multiple times on different 'X's on the screen until they get the right one. Combine this with the general lagginess and lack of instructions lead to confusion and frustration.


When first presented with the website it was pleasing to see that there was clear download links for the Mac and for the PC. However after trying to install and play on both operating systems we came to realize that there were many problems.

Mac Problems:
- Forever to load
- Could not finish track mini game
- Clicking was not always registered
- General lagginess
- Timers were off
- No Fullscreen option(?)

PC Problems:
- Stretched and low resolution
- Super Laggy, slow, and studders
- Some visual glitches

I believe that Flash would have been a better option for them to create this game. Both the graphics and the type of game play could have been easily created and a lot more stable with the use of Flash.


Jerz’s Literacy Weblog posted a game review about “Fat World.” The post commends the timing of release of the game because it came out after McDonalds UK CEO Steve Easterbrook noted last week, "there's fewer green spaces and kids are sat home playing computer games on the TV when in the past they'd have been burning off energy outside," relating it to the rise in childhood obesity [1]. Jerz states “Fat World” provides a presentation of the connection between political and socio-economic, and health models [1]. 

Jerz’s comment about the mini games shines a light on the game as a whole. While the game play of the mini games may be tedious, it reflects a discipline needed to make exercise part of one’s daily routine.

While he praises the game’s insight, he shows disdain towards the game play and interface. His main critique is that the interface lacks transparency to the point that the input to play the game is confusing and frustrating, especially involving avatar movement and entering buildings. Jerz also comments on the lack of feedback provided by the game. While the player may do food shopping, meal planning, and exercising, the stats didn’t change regarding caloric intake or calories burnt. Furthermore, he felt the shopping was in vain because the game didn’t notify him when his avatar ate.

In dealing with the restaurant mini game, Jerz began struggling through, commenting that there was a lack of teaching for the player. At first, he comments on the confusion brought on by the lack of explanation of the given options in the restaurant. “The arrows looked like they belonged to different games” [1]. At first, the need to hold SHIFT to move the avatar quicker to fulfill the order requirements was tedious. However, once he got the hang of it, he enjoyed his accomplishment, until a glitch booted him out of his own restaurant.

Jerz finishes his critique of the game offering players a choice of the following clichés:

  1. “Fat World” looks good on the plate, but it's hard to swallow?
  2. The bugs leave a bitter aftertaste? 
  3. Like the gingerbread boy, “Fat World” escaped the kitchen only half-baked? 

[1] Jerz, Dennis G. “Fat World Review.” Jerz’s Literacy Blog. Web. 2008. 2/14/2011  


All in all, I have to say the only redeeming thing about this game was its art style. But beyond that, Fat World is too gltichy and too open ended of a game that is unnecessarily complicated and without instructions. If they used Flash and added a more straight forward system of gameplay (instead of the open world that they presented) they could have avoided most of the problems.


  1. Winn, Brian. The Design, Play and Experience Framework. In R. Ferdig (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2009, pp. 388-401.