If you haven’t yet heard of Goat Simulator (1) WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? It’s been all over the internet for the past week, and (2) Let me explain it to you. It’s a game in the vein of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater, except instead of playing a skateboarder, you play a goat, racking up points by doing wacky stunts, headbutts, jumps and licks (yes, licks – and strangely, everything sticks to your infinitely extendable tongue).
The world you’re given to explore is full of surprises and adventures, plenty of things to ram your head into, and bugs that were intentionally (and hilariously) kept in the game. However after a few hours of play, I started to feel something weird, something unexpected. At first, it was a lot of of fun – I launched my goat into the sky on a firework, practiced a satanic ritual, played a few frustratingly short games of Flappy Goat, and headbutted/licked countless pedestrians and party-goers into a state of paralyzed stupor.
But after a few hours I started to feel it… At first it was just a twinge of repulsion. I like goats. But this one, with his dead, rectangular pupils and his lolling tongue…there was something about it that wasn’t right. The gas station he exploded, the people he set on fire – he left a path of terror in his wake. His destruction was immense, but not wrathful. He seemed to mean no harm. He was just a goat doing goat things. It was destruction for the sake of destruction, and through it all, I couldn’t see even a hint of emotion in his eyes.
Until I looked closer. For a moment I was transported into his little goat brain. We were trapped in the house that had the Coffee Stain
Studios logo on the outside (they are the ones that developed the game) – I guess it was supposed to be a replica of their office. I had navigated my little goat up the stairs out of curiosity, and accidentally knocked down a shelf. Everything around me came tumbling down, shelves, pictures, televisions and computers and desks. I had barely touched anything. At that moment, I noticed that the way my goat behaved made him seem almost scared. He was trapped in this house, in this world of humans. Everything around him was crashing down, the people who had been working at their desks just a moment ago were crumpled on the floor. Some of them cried out.
My goat tried desperately to get back down the stairs, but couldn’t find the way. The house was littered with furniture and confusion and I just wanted out. I felt it, the anxiety. There was no separation between the me and the goat anymore.
When I finally did escape, I reveled in my freedom, running up and down the road, trying to catch the attention of a passing truck, but to no avail. I saw a group of protestors around the corner and galloped towards them, bleating with joy and relief. Not a single one of them turned to look at my little goat self when I arrived. It was as if I wasn’t even there. Did I live in a world where it was custom to ignore your average, everyday goat? If a goat came up to me on the street, I’m not sure how I’d react, but I definitely wouldn’t ignore it. Couldn’t they tell I needed their help to find meaning in this endlessly hostile world?
Then, without meaning to, I ran into one of the protestors. He went limp. I hardly even touched him! It wasn’t my fault! The other people around started screaming, and I panicked and clumsily tried to move in the opposite direction, but they were dropping like flies.
I decided I needed to get away, far away, to a place where I couldn’t mess anything up. I directed my little goat to climb a mountain. Trees obscured my view, but eventually the mountain became so steep that I could no longer climb it. I followed it, hoping to find some sort of overpass to freedom, but I found nothing. I realized then that I really was trapped. I was trapped in a limited world where no one even looks as me, and everything I do results in death and destruction.
And then it came to me.
This is Goat Hell. This is eternity. It all made so much sense now.
So now I address Coffee Stain Studios.
Your game is cute, but the metaphor is quite clear. I will no longer look into those dead, rectangular pupils and wonder what is going on inside that furry head. I know now. I’ve had a taste of Goat Hell and I did not like it, not one bit. The goat is an innocent animal trapped in a world it will never be a part of, a world where every attempt at kindness backfires horribly or renders another person immobile on the ground.
I now understand that Goat Simulator opened my eyes to a world I cannot unsee. I am frightened, yet strangely grateful.
What did you think of Goat Simulator?