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The snake game Google remains one of the most iconic video games of all time. While many different versions and ports have been developed over the decades, the core mechanic at the heart of Snake’s gameplay has stayed remarkably consistent – eat apples to get bigger.

In this article, we’ll explore why this simple concept of a snake eating apples to grow has become integral to the appeal and longevity of Snake. We’ll look at the origins of the eating mechanic, its intuitive and satisfying nature, and how it lays the foundation for Snake’s challenging gameplay.

Origins of the Apple Eating Mechanic

Snake’s origins trace back to arcade games like Blockade and Surround in the 1970s which featured a snake-like character that grows longer to trap opponents. However, Snake became truly defined after Nintendo brought the concept to handheld devices.

In the Game & Watch port, the snake was made to eat dots rather than trap enemies. This helped simplify the game for quick play sessions. The dots soon evolved into apples or fruit, which proved even more intuitive.

The apple eating mechanic stuck because it resonated with players. Everyone understands snakes eat apples. Making the snake grow when eating apples reinforced this natural connection.

When Snake exploded on Nokia phones in the late 90s, the apple eating remained core. This cementing Snake eating apples as the de facto standard.

Why Apples Resonate

On a primal level, gathering food and eating to stay alive represents an innate drive. Snake taps into this by using a universal symbol of food – apples.

Apples are a familiar concept even to small children first playing video games. Their vibrant colors pop against the drab screens of classic Snake machines and phones.

The iconography of apples is universally understood. They symbolize health, knowledge, sin – associations that subconsciously add richness to such a simple mechanic.

Overall, apples are the perfect low fidelity food source. Using any other item just wouldn’t feel right. The apple eating mechanic creates instant understanding and investment in the goal.

Satisfaction of Growing by Eating

A huge source of Snake’s lasting appeal is the satisfaction of making the snake bigger by eating. The feeling of controlling the snake to hunt down apples activates our primal urges.

Watching the snake visually expand with each apple tapped into our innate desires for collection, growth, and improvement. Getting bigger equates progress and dominance.

The increase in length also reinforces success through immediate feedback. You eat, you grow – simple as that. This makes Snake easy to parse while still keeping players invested.

Overall, the growth mechanic creates an addictive gameplay loop. Eating apples feels good so you want to keep doing it more and more.

Building Tension Through Limited Space

While eating apples and growing is core to Snake, there must be challenges in place too. This is where the limited screen space comes in.

With each apple eaten, growing longer gets you closer to hitting the edges and dying. More space to roam comes at the cost of greater danger.

This constructs a risk vs reward dynamic. Do you keep indulging the urge to eat and expand while navigating a now cramped playfield? Or do you stop eating and try surviving with your current size?

The confined space ratchets up tension. Eating has diminishing returns – what made you bigger now makes you more vulnerable. Mastery comes from balancing these dueling needs.

Evolution of Coordinate Challenges

While Snake’s core has remained consistent, various versions have augmented the challenge in different ways:

  • Angled walls force more aware maneuvering
  • Multiple snakes make avoiding yourself and others harder
  • Obstacles block off parts of the screen
  • First-person view increases disorientation
  • 3D play spaces add new navigation complexity

These all build off the limited space created by the screen borders. More sophisticated level designs force you to be more thoughtful when moving and planning. Mastering the apple eating core mechanic remains central.

Apple Eating in Modern Iterations

Even modern mobile versions of Snake retain the iconic apple eating concept. For example, Snake vs Block adds challenging obstacles but keeps apple eating integral.

Likewise, builds off Snake’s appeal. The spinning snake stretches to eat pellets and gain mass – the same universal appeal even in a more modern style.

This staying power across generations shows the primal satisfaction of making a snake grow by eating remains as engaging as ever.


While new graphics, themes, power-ups and modes have been added to Snake over the years, the appeal always comes back to its core mechanic – eat apples, get bigger. This simple loop taps into our most basic urges, creates visual feedback, and constructs risk-reward dynamics that make Snake eternally satisfying. The timeless fun of guiding a snake to eat apples ensures this iconic video game maintains its relevance and nostalgic charm decades after its inception.