By now, you have likely been enchanted by (or at least made aware of) Untitled Goose Game, the game in which you are a horrible goose wreaking havoc on a small town of people who just want to garden and keep their shoes on, which you, as a horrible goose, obviously cannot allow. Anyone who has been around geese knows that they are assholes, so the question of motivation may seem a tautology—the goose terrorizes because he is a goose, case closed.
In an interview in Vulture, the game’s creators say they theorized the game is “it’s set in a world where a goose chased Margaret Thatcher out of office, leading Tony Benn to take over the U.K. and enact social democracy in the U.K.,” but ultimately, “The goose is this chaotic neutral character. They’re just an animal who’s not really aware of what they’re doing.” Except the author is dead. Twitter is awash with theories as to what the goose is after, whether it’s punishing everyone in the town who voted for Brexit, or simply to prove that the class Aves is superior to Mammalia. But let us throw out another theory: the town’s main industry is foie gras, and the goose has escaped and is getting his revenge.
Foie gras is, to say the very least, a controversial industry. Various countries and states have banned gavage, the process of force-feeding ducks and geese corn to enlarge their livers. Some say there’s an ethical way to produce foie gras, others say even for meat eaters it’s uniquely inhumane. It seems logical that, should a goose have an opportunity to escape such treatment, it would. And thus we begin our game.
Okay, so British farmers are prohibited from producing foie gras, but that’s not going to stop me from running away with this idea like a goose with a bell. Because aside from that pesky detail, it makes perfect sense. First, let’s look at the goose itself. You’d think if the goose really wanted to annoy these people, it’d use its wings to fly on top of them and really mess them up. But you can never fly as the goose, nor can you even jump. Perhaps this is an example of the simple gameplay, or its proof that the goose has been kept in captivity its whole life and lacks the muscles to do anything but run and drag carrots around.
Second, consider the things the goose is often tasked to steal. It has to make itself a picnic out of stolen food. It has to set a table with knives and forks stolen for a pub. It lures a man into great harm by running off with his tomatoes. The goose fucks with people by fucking with their food, as if to say I understand all too well the lengths to which you will go for culinary pleasure, and I will deny you as I have been denied. The goose does not steal the cabbage and the sandwich to eat; after a lifetime of force-feeding, it knows food only as pain. It’s had enough gavage — time for re-va(n)ge.
Finally, where are the other geese? Any amateur ornithologist will tell you that geese come in flocks, descending on your lawns and streets in order to cover them in shit. And yet the goose is the only goose to be found. In the beginning of the game we see the goose’s “home,” a small enclave it has nestled out for itself in the woods, surrounded by trophies of previous victories against the townspeople. The other geese, naturally, must be back in the factory, and the goose has been here for some time. Perhaps the goose, when it first escaped, hoped that by getting their attention, the people in the town would see the cost of the industry they rely on. Do you hear the goose’s honk? it cried. Honking the honk of angry geese. But now, it feels like honking into a well. The goose has grown bitter.
The only power it has now is to annoy, and hope that the townspeople grow so frustrated by the mere idea of geese that they decide any proximity to them is too much, and shut down the farm so they never have to hear again another honk. Finally, then, will the goose picnic in peace.