'We should make a game about this': The story behind Untitled Goose Game

'We should make a game about this': The story behind Untitled Goose Game

RMIT PhD researcher and games designer Michael McMaster proves that research isn’t all work and no play as his now viral Untitled Goose Game takes off.

McMaster is one of the four creators behind the surprise hit which topped Nintendo Switch's UK and Australian download charts following its release last month.

With Melbourne International Games Week in full swing across the city this week, he shared the inspiration behind the game with RMIT News and gave us a peek into his research journey so far.

What is the focus of your PhD?

My PhD research looks at video games within museums as in the last decade or so there’s been a surge of videogame exhibitions and other programming within museums.

I’m interested in trying to figure out what this means for both videogames as a cultural form, and museums as cultural institutions.

More specifically I’m trying to work out what happens in museums behind-the-scenes when videogames are introduced, so my research is heavily informed by ethnographic fieldwork.

I spent six months in London last year at the Victoria and Albert Museum, following the curatorial team to document the final stretch of development of their major videogame exhibition.

What else do you do?

Beyond my research, I’m also a video game developer, working in a small company called House House here in Melbourne.

In late September we released our second videogame called Untitled Goose Game, which ended up being a lot more popular than we were anticipating.

What do you love about games and game design?

One thing I really like about making videogames is that there’s so much unexplored territory.

Games in the general sense are extremely old, but videogames as a distinct audio-visual medium are still very young, so there’s a huge amount of white space for new ideas to be tested.

Not that we’re making wildly experimental games ourselves, but I think it says a lot that “a game played from the perspective of a horrible goose” seems so novel and interesting to people.

Where did the inspiration for Untitled Goose Game come from?

The idea originally came from our collective agreement that geese are inherently very funny.

In August 2016, my colleague Stuart posted a stock photo of a goose in our Slack and said, jokingly, “we should make a game about this”.

We decided in earnest to attempt to present what we thought was funny about geese through a video game which was captured quite early on in the game’s tagline, “It’s a lovely morning in the village and you are a horrible goose.”

Has the popularity been a surprise?

It has been very surprising and overwhelming. Since we put our first trailer online in late 2017 there’d been a lot of excitement around the game, but we’d always tried to be as pessimistic as possible in the leadup to its release.

We weren’t prepared for the game’s wild success. It’s been a really amazing and totally surreal few weeks and seeing so many people playing and enjoying the game has been incredibly gratifying.

Download Untitled Goose Game

 

Story: Grace Taylor

11 October 2019

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11 October 2019

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