Dec
07
Why Untitled Goose Game Won’t Stop Talking Politics


This week, Untitled Goose Game creators House
House attempted to influence voters in the upcoming UK general election. The studio’s official Twitter account has
urged UK fans to vote for the left-wing Labour party, going so far as to display everyone’s
favourite naughty goose with a red rose, the party’s official symbol. This should come as no surprise to anyone
who’s been keeping tabs on House House, as they’ve stated in an interview that,
according to their own in-studio lore, Untitled Goose Game takes place within a socialist
utopia. The subject of politics in games is increasingly
fraught, with many studios attempting to distance themselves from the political themes within
their work. Earlier this year, a spokesperson for EA claimed
that, quote, “we’re not making any political statements”, in their latest World War 2
first person shooter, Battlefield V. So why, then in a climate where many developers
are so squeamish about acknowledging the political themes within their games, are the team at
House House willing to endorse a particular political party? As we mentioned in our previous video on this
game’s development, the four core members of House House make not pretense at being
professional. “We are,” says Jacob Strasser, “three
years more professional than we were three years ago.” This extends to politics. The team at House House wear their allegiances
on their sleeves, and have not been shy about discussing their involvement in protests against
the ongoing climate crisis. According to Nico Disseldorp:
“We stopped work in the middle of our video game’s launch day and went to the Global
Climate Strike because we want our government and other governments around the world to
take urgent action to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Business as usual is destroying all of our
futures, and things need to change now.” This is only the tip of the…iceberg…when
it comes to team’s consideration of politics. While House House are Australians, they have
a deep affinity for stories set within rural England, and take a keen interest in British
politics. It’s for this reason that they chose the
quaint setting for Untitled Goose Game. According to Jacob Strasser, speaking to Kotaku:
“We have a joke canonical version of the world of the game, in which — I don’t
think you should publish this, but for the sake of conversation — 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. All the people are good Marxists, and they’re
all good people, and the goose is just a goose.” It seems that Kotaku ignored Strasser’s
request to keep this quote out of their finished interview, but now that it’s been published,
it does give some unique insight to the studio’s internal discussions around British politics. In spite of this “canonical” game lore,
Strasser doesn’t think that fans should be too concerned about the moral implications
of this scenario. Said Strasser:
“All the people on Twitter responded to that saying ‘Oh, I feel bad that the goose
is harassing these Marxists’. I’m not going to go on Twitter and correct
people because I have better things to do, but the goose is just a goose. The goose is this chaotic neutral character. They’re just an animal who’s not really
aware of what they’re doing.” According to Strasser, fans of the game are
even free to read into the characters within the game and try to guess which way they voted
in Brexit. Discussing Untitled Goose Game in relation
to modern global politics has the House House seal of approval. Regardless, it seems that, within Britain,
Untitled Goose Game really speaks to supporters of left-wing politics. In October, the campaign for a People’s
Vote on the final outcome of Britain’s exodus from the European Union organized a protest
in which over a million people marched across the streets of London. One protestor, Sarah Hiraki, later shared
a collection of Untitled Goose Game-themed signs and placards that she’d seen during
the march. Many of these featured the game’s titular
goose holding aloft the EU flag, or calling for onlookers to “honk if you want to remain”. Perhaps the most popular of these signs showed
the naughty goose chasing current Conservative party leader Boris Johnson, with the caption,
“It’s a beautiful day in the UK, and you are a horrible prime minister.” Even before this protest, the team at House
House were receiving reports that their goose was a symbol of resistance, and they were
loving it. According to Michael McMaster:
“I’m glad that the goose is a leftist icon; that’s very funny. I’d much rather it be a leftist icon than
a right icon… “Anything the left can take joy in and pride
in and have a bit of fun with, we love. And if it [upsets] some alt-right people,
then great.” This is the climate that led House House to
take an official stance in the UK’s general election, as they tweeted out:
“NON-GOOSE TWEET: if you’re in the UK, please, please, please go and vote for a Labour government
on Dec 12th END NON-GOOSE TWEET” We’ll let you decide the moral of this story
for yourself, but we will say that it’s refreshing for a games studio to be so comfortable
with being up front and honest about the politics that have influenced their creation. It seems that Untitled Goose Game’s status
as a leftist icon is here to stay.