Before we get started a quick note; If you’re unfamiliar with House House Games you should know that they call Australia home. In light of the wildfire disasters we asked the House House team if there were any causes they were passionate about and they sent over the following link. If you feel so inclined please have a look, and donate if you can. The fires have been hard on everyone but particularly hard on the First Nations People. Thanks.
There’s a moment in Untitled Goose Game where your goose must knock a bucket off of a ledge with perfect timing, so that the bucket falls onto a man’s head. I finally achieved this moment over the holiday break. I was with my entire family, and we had tried multiple times to knock the bucket on the man’s head. When it eventually happened all fifteen of us erupted in cheers.
By this point the game had already struck a chord. The people were cheering its name, the twitters were twittering, and it had already marched (waddled) to the 1 million units sold mark. It is undeniably a great gaming experience but naming exactly why it’s so good can be a challenge.
For me, simply saying “it’s just fun” isn’t good enough. I want to know why I’m laughing so hard at this experience. I want to discover why this rascally avian is making me laugh as if it has a feather directly on my side.
Obviously, it’s relatable content. It’s known far and wide that geese are generally the worst. Also, the mischief of the game is mostly manageable. You’re not ruining lives or destroying expensive property. The goose is extremely similar to a toddler. I’m currently in possession of a toddler and they often times take things that aren’t there’s and then throw those things into puddles or generally run away with them.
One thing I’ve realized, calling the actions of the goose “pranks” is a far stretch. Just like a toddler, the goose isn’t setting out to intentionally disrupt or create chaos. It’s just a goose being a goose.
Maybe that’s the core of the humor here? Your character (the goose) has no idea of the absolute inconvenience he is. He exists and does the things that geese do. It’s a sort of “I honk, therefore I am.” Scenario.
I Honk, Therefore I Am
Jake at House House games was nice enough to answer some of the questions I sent over his way and I think it helps give context to the “why is this so damn funny?” question. Enjoy.
Where was the team and what you were doing when you realized UGG was a bone fide mega hit?
I wouldn’t say there was one specific moment – more like a long series of building realizations – but one I remember was standing in the middle of my living room scrolling through twitter when I saw a video of Mark Hoppus from Blink 182 giving a shout out to the game.
The origin story of the game (which we explain in our Podcast episode) is as fascinating as the game its self. Are you at a point where you encourage more wild and silly ideas now?
When House House is working together it’s mostly just the four of us in a room together – working – but also distracting one another, having silly chats and trying to make each other laugh, and our game development practice is an extension of this. We started working together in the first place because we wanted an excuse to hang out together, so we don’t feel like we need to be prescriptive with our ideas – we just trust in each others instincts, have interesting conversations, make jokes, and the ideas flow out of that practice of communication and collaboration and into our games.
I’ve had this debate several times with other gamers so I wanted to ask you. Does your team view the villagers as innocent victims or as curmudgeons who don’t like animals?
I wouldn’t really simplify the villagers into any category like that – they’re neither and both – they’re just people.
Much of the reaction to the game is how useful it is to relieve stress and blow off steam. Was your team intentional with the mental health advantages of the game or did that reaction kind of surprise everyone?
I think you’re kinda just describing having fun. Having fun and laughing feels good. It’s good for you. We definitely intended for the game to be fun!
With the bells in goose’s home and considering the endgame, it seems like there’s some backstory to this goose. Is there a developed and/or official origin for this creature? We invented our own here at the podcast but wanted to see the team’s thoughts!
To be completely honest we almost didn’t put the bells in the game because it seemed to give the goose too much intention – even the implied history that the bell pile offers seemed like to much to us. We like that the goose is motiveless. It doesn’t need a reason to do what it does, because it’s a goose.
Nathan is the co-creator and co-host of the Splash Damage Bros. Podcast and Blog. He games, therefore he is. @thenatejc @splashdamagebro