Horrible goose game tops charts
Sometimes, when you’ve had a rough day, the best answer is to go home, play at being a goose and drop someone’s sandwich in a pond.
Or at least, that’s the premise of Untitled Goose Game, a video game developed by four friends at a Melbournebased studio, which involves a goose hellbent on mildly annoying residents of a nice English village. It has charted an unlikely path to the top of video game charts and spawned memes of avian terror on social media.
With nothing at stake — no world to save, no baddies to fight — the pleasure of the gameplay comes from bothering townsfolk: chasing frightened children, stealing from shopkeepers and honking incessantly at people trying to read.
Jacob Strasser, one of the creators of the game, said the village was a nod to the British television programs he and his friends grew up watching, like ‘Brum,’ a children’s show with a sentient vintage motorcar.
He and his team at the studio House House loved “the kind of Englishness that seems very proper and prim,” he said, which runs “very counter to the chaotic course of the goose.”
The game, which can be played on the PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch, was released on Sept. 20. It quickly rose to No. 2 on the British and American Nintendo eShop charts, and last weekend, it bumped The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which was released on the same day, from the top spot on the Australian chart.
The idea started as a joke in a messaging channel at the studio, when one of the developers shared a stock image of a goose. “Let’s make a game about this,” the developer wrote.
“We realized that people who live near geese seem to have this difficult relationship with them,” Nico Disseldorp, another of the game’s creators, said. “They seem to be a bit afraid of them. Not the same way you’d be scared of a poisonous snake,” he said, but more like a “social awkwardness.”
In the game, players putter around in the guise of a feathery, bottom-wiggling bird, ticking off the game’s assignments, like ‘Make the groundskeeper hammer his thumb’ and, ‘Steal a pint glass and drop it in the canal.’ While the village is imaginary, its buildings are modeled on a real town, although “no one has recognized it yet,” Strasser said.
Alex Walker, editor of the gaming website Kotaku Australia, said many people have watched a goose “on a warpath” or been attacked by one, adding: “Now you get to do that to other people. It’s cathartic to be the goose.”
AVIAN ADVENTURE: The popular game where geese terrorise residents of an English village is cathartic for users