As I write this, a pixelated little goose is dragging a bad meme onto my desktop and tracking mud all over my Google doc. The screen is cluttered with terrible cartoons, including one of the goose smoking a pipe while floating smugly in a pond. When I pushed the period key at the end of that last sentence, the goose lunged for my idle mouse and dragged it off-screen against my will. It will not stop honking.
“am goose hjonk,” it writes in a pop-up window titled “Goose ‘Not-epad.’”
If you’re a member of the goose gang—that is, anyone who’s played the viral videogame Untitled Goose Game—you probably have a love-hate relationship with that mischievous and fowl namesake. Released September 20, the puzzle stealth game follows a very bad goose on its senseless mission to terrorize unsuspecting English gardeners and townsfolk. Four months later, an independent developer has set a new goose loose on home desktops with a Windows extension titled Desktop Goose.
“There’s something almost aspirational I find in the reserved anarchy of a goose,” says 18-year-old Desktop Goose developer Sam Chiet, who is not affiliated with Untitled Goose Game studio House House. “I heard someone call Untitled Goose Game a power fantasy for timid people, and that’s basically the best way to put it. I’m going to mildly inconvenience the crap out of you.”
There’s not much to getting started with Desktop Goose. Once unzipped, a piece of software launches that unleashes the goose onto your desktop. It’s not much of a hassle at first until you realize that each individual window it drags on-screen adds up to a totally un-Marie-Kondo-like atmosphere of clutter. You can also cancel out easily enough; just hold down escape, and your tormentor waddles off screen. Everything goes back to normal.
Chiet had spent several months thinking of interactive designs that he could pull off using just the Windows desktop. For inspiration, he reflected on the classics: freeware ’90s desktop managers Bonzi Buddy and Prody Parrot, and, of course, Clippy. (“Rest in peace,” says Chiet). The Goose, he realized, was a perfect fit. Its presence is small enough to let you momentarily focus on workday tasks, maybe even get something done, but obtrusive enough to jar you after just a few moments.
hard to type withh feet,” reads a window on my desktop.