Why people are going nuts about a video game about a goose
BRIEF HISTORIES - Don Jaucian (The Philippine Star) - October 5, 2019 - 12:00am

There are many things you can do on the Untitled Goose Game. As the titular goose, you can steal things, honk, confuse a boy, steal toys, honk some more, and then steal some more. If it were a game about a goose terrorizing a post-apocalyptic world Mad Max-style, I don’t think it would have ended as popular as it is now but House House’s simple, problem-solving video game about a goose — a gansa! — wreaking havoc is as cute and as annoying you can get to actually letting loose in a simple village on a fine day.

The Washington Post called the game “the new punching a wall.” And it truly is. You’re “the asshole goose” who one day shows up in a village and goes into a couple of mild criminal offenses. You have a list of to-do tasks — like the poor villagers you have victimized perhaps, just wanting to read the paper and play a game of darts at a pub. If you think a goose with a to-do list is absurd, the actual to-do list is even more absurd. Here are some things you need to do to:

  • Have a picnic
  • Do the washing
  • Lock a shopkeeper in her garage
  • Get on TV

How you’ll accomplish these things is a matter of lateral thinking. You have to be resourceful and think of how you can use your surroundings. In this aspect, it doesn’t differ from some of the puzzle-type games like The Legend of Zelda’s shrine quests or even Tetris’ falling block system. At times, I found myself just honking at people, making them fall out of their seats or drop their tea, rather than focusing on the tasks at hand. Untitled Goose Game gives you that freedom of just being that asshole with little to no consequences.

There wasn’t a grand scheme accompanying the game’s inception as well. Someone in the game developer’s Slack group sent an image of a goose. It was funny. And funny became the internet’s current video game sensation — overtaking some of the biggest releases during its first week. 

 “We very quickly realized that the low-level relationship between a goose and person was really interesting and really rich, and had all this opportunity for depth and nuance and humor,” co-creator Jacob Strasser said in the same interview. Untitled Goose Game is really that simple: a goose on a trail of shenanigans, going on its day without even thinking about it.

People are drawing real-world parallels to the game. Some suggest it’s a parable about Trump-era America or about U.K.’s Brexit issue or the goose as a symbol for the Left — although the creators did love this idea. “Anything the left can take joy in and pride in and have a bit of fun with, we love. And if it pisses off some alt-right people, then great,” said co-creator Michael McMaster in a Vulture interview.

Naturally, the goose has launched a thousand memes. My favorite still has to be the image of the goose with a knife in its beak, with the caption “Peace was never an option.” (As an aside, how analogue it is to describe a meme instead of just attaching the image of the meme?)

Playing the Untitled Goose Game is pretty fun and rewarding. Pressing that honk button has given me more glee than anything else I’ve played this year. It’s not everyday that you get to play a goose and just honk at people to your heart’s chaos-loving delight.

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Untitled Goose Game is available for PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch

 

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