Well friends – guess what you’re looking at? Remember our friend Henry Adam Svec, the songwriter who drew our attention to projects such as “The CFL Sessions”, “Folk Songs of Canada”, and “Folk Songs of Canada Now”? Well here’s what happened: Henry FINALLY moved away from London, and ended up in Fredericton. And while there, he developed an OBSESSION with donairs. Photos of donairs, sound-collages, even a donair-themed radio show. THEN Henry moved down to the United States. And while some of us might have expected the result to be something innocent like “Folk Songs of America Now”, that’s not exactly what Henry had in mind. THIS was his vision:
Henry has made a VIDEO GAME ABOUT DONAIRS. And it’s totally bizarre. It’s totally Henry. I should have seen this coming, but I’ll admit that I really didn’t. Congratulations Henry. Here are the details:
The donair has been gaining steam. Invented by restaurateur Peter Gamoulakos in the 1970s, when he was having trouble selling the traditional gyro to his Maritimer patrons, the sweet, milky beef wrap was named an official food of Halifax in 2015. Now the dish gets its own interactive digital game, entitled Donair Academy.
Created by Henry Adam Svec and Chad Comeau, Donair Academy lovingly and nostalgically hearkens back to the RPGs and digital encyclopedias of the 1990s, such as Final Fantasy and Microsoft Encarta. Players can explore the historical, gastronomical, and acoustic dimensions of this culinary artifact, which is a fascinating compromise linking Turkish, Greek, and Atlantic Canadian tastes. One struggles to describe the experience (surprising? enlightening? surreal?). In a sense, perhaps playing the game is just like eating a good donair.
“One never knows when donair knowledge will come in handy,” says Comeau. It is hard to elaborate further without giving away the game’s provocative conclusion, so the interested reader will simply need to play to find out how. But the game also probes bigger, more universal issues, using the Halifax donair as a springboard. “We wanted to make a game that mixed several dimensions of donair history and culture. Education, canonization, mobilization, mastication—it’s all in here,” says Svec.
Donair Academy is the first collaboration between writer and performer Henry Adam Svec (The CFL Sessions, Artificially Intelligent Folk Songs of Canada) and game designer Chad Comeau (La vie d’Arcade, Granny Games). Each having worked as Media Artist in Residence at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton (Svec in 2014-2015 and Comeau in 2016-2017), the idea first came to light when Svec encouraged Comeau to make a game about donairs on his Facebook page. What began perhaps as a joke has finished as reality. Also featuring a tense, dramatic soundtrack by WL Altman and Andrew Penner, Donair Academy is available for free online at www.donairacademy.org.