Untitled Goose Game: Simulated Chaos Inspiring Contemporary Romanticism
In Untitled Goose Game, players control a goose that sets off to disrupt the lives of an English Village. “The Goose” has a list of objectives which involve stealing items or tricking the villagers, which can be achieved by honking, running, flapping its wings, or grabbing items with its beak. As The Goose, players can wreak havoc with reckless abandon and prioritize the Goose’s immediate wants and impulses. Apolitically motivated but inspiring social revolution, roleplaying as The Goose realizes the long-desired escalation of individuals whose existence is repeatedly denied by their environment. The player is able to express self-oriented desires through The Goose’s actions. The Goose’s chaos is deeply sublime.
In Romantic literature and artwork, the sublime refers to natural phenomena with greatness that overwhelms the rational mind. Experiencing the sublime allows individuals to revitalize their immediate relationship with the self. Morton Paley describes a fascination with the sublime and apocalyptic myth as the realization of millenarian hopes of revolution. For the millenarians, the apocalypse symbolized an end to oppressive institutions and opportunity for individuals to reclaim their personhood. In the universe’s timeline, preceding the events of the game, a goose is responsible for chasing Margaret Thatcher out of office, spurring a Bennite revolution and the irreparable decline of the Tory party (@house_house_). The Goose comes to represent revolution and realize the ambitions of millenarians and millenials alike.
It is important to note that as a natural force, The Goose’s motivation for chaos exists outside of rational thought and oppressive social hierarchies. It has no intent to oppress and exhibits a complete disinterest and lack of understanding of what power is. The Goose’s havoc is uninterested in the capacity to do lasting harm, which is demonstrated by the clockwork cyclical nature of the gameworld. No matter how much havoc The Goose wrecks upon the villagers, they are able to recover. Even in playthroughs where The Goose manages to steal all of the items in the village, the villagers still proceed to act out their daily rituals. Lastly, no matter the exchange, The Goose is still susceptible to the whims of the villagers. The Goose can be locked outside of fences, shooed away, or picked up and removed from the premises. Players don’t have to celebrate their self-satisfaction at the demise of others.
The pocket universe of Untitled Goose Game provides refuge from oppressive social and political structures. Players can realize the fantasy of self-actualization and chaos by roleplaying an entity with an immediate relationship to the self. To prioritize the immediate needs of the self is inherently radical within a society that discourages self-realization. Audre Lorde states that “In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change” (87). Self-orientation deconstructs the tenements of an oppressive culture, so much so that we embrace self-care as a destructive force. The game’s success resonates with the public’s desire for chaotic self-acknowledgement. It asks, ”Are you tired of being nice? Don’t you just wanna go apeshit” (“Are You Tired of Being Nice”)?
“Are You Tired of Being Nice?” Know Your Meme, 23 Dec. 2019, https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/are-you-tired-of-being-nice.
@house_house_ “Actually, in Our Timeline, a Goose Chased Thatcher out of Office, Spurring a Bennite Revolution and the Irreparable Decline of the Tory Party. The Villagers Are Marxists.” Twitter, Twitter, 25 Sept. 2019, https://twitter.com/house_house_/status/1176724707019591680?lang=en.
Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Crossing Press, 2007.
Myrone, Martin. “John Martin's Last Judgement Triptych: The Apocalyptic Sublime in the Age of Spectacle.” Tate, Tate, 1 Jan. 2013, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/the-sublime/martin-myrone-john-martins-last-judgement-triptych-the-apocalyptic-sublime-in-the-age-of-r1141419.
Paley, Morton D, and Joseph Wittreich. “Volume 22 · Issue 1.” Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly, http://bq.blakearchive.org/22.1.wittreich.