Nova Scotia

If you really love donairs, step back to the 1990s with this online game

Donair Academy explores the history, gastronomy and acoustics of Halifax's signature dish.

Creators of Donair Academy acknowledge target audience for new game likely small

A screenshot from the game. (Donair Academy)

If you've ever tried a donair — the gastronomic mosaic of shaved meat, tomato and pita topped with a sweet and tangy sauce — you might think you've already had the full experience.

You'd be wrong.

Donair Academy, a new online game developed by writer and performer Henry Adam Svec in collaboration with Chad Comeau, takes a dive into the history, composition and aural experience of the dish, also known as Halifax's official food.

"You know, the experience of eating a donair is delightful but also a bit strange," Svec told CBC's Information Morning. "So we wanted to make a game about this food that we're so interested in, a game that kind of replicated that journey of eating a donair."

(Donair Academy)

Svec now lives in Jackson, Miss., but attended university in Sackville, N.B., and was media artist-in-residence in UNB in Fredericton.

It was during his tenure in Fredericton that the donair captured his imagination, inspiring a donair-themed show on the campus radio station.

In the same period, Svec said he also met Comeau, a game designer, and suggested he make a digital game about donairs. A couple years later, Comeau took him up on the suggestion.

"He emailed me and said he was going to make the game and would I like to collaborate," Svec said. "So that's kind of how the game came about and we spent a while batting around different ideas … and here we are."

(Donair Academy)

Billing itself as "the first educational computer game about the Halifax donair," Donair Academy hardly resembles the naturalistic, fast-paced games of today but rather the pixelated computer games of the 1990s.

"This is more of … a kind of interactive performance or story," Sevic said, noting that few of the levels could be considered challenging — except, perhaps, the "acoustics" stage, which features a field recording of the sound of chewing.

"That's the most difficult level apparently … because the sounds are kind of horrific to get through."

(Donair Academy)

Those who do make it through to the end will encounter a dramatic reversal at the final stage.

"I want to keep refrigerated this conclusion for any interested players, but there's a big turn in the game."

But narrative arc aside, Svec said he expects the game will appeal most to those already familiar with the story of the donair.

"Some players that maybe are unfamiliar with the donair might find our game completely incomprehensible," he said. "I mean, we have a very small target audience, I would say. You know, it's not like, going to blow up in Ireland.

With files from CBC's Information Morning