Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Goat Simulator confuses the world

Released on April 1st, the goat-based video game both is and is not a joke

Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 17:15


There are perils to this April Fool business. Yesterday, a story in the Guardian, concerning a  robotic suit that would allow paraplegics to walk, was taken by many commentators to be a joke (and one in questionable taste). As it happened, the story was entirely true: just such a mind-controlled device will be unveiled during the opening ceremony of the World Cup.

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I felt the same way about reviews of a video game entitled Goat Simulator. Now, I do remember playing Sim Ant in the early 1990s. But that game involved the construction of sophisticated societies. This thing seems to allow the punter to do little more than run around butting fragile people and inanimate objects. Aha! It seems the game was released on April 1st. So, it’s clearly a gag.

Well, yes and no. The people at Coffee Stain did construct the thing as a sort of parody of those enormously dull games that allow you to simulate warehouse management or dry cleaning supply. But it is also a real thing. You can buy it and play it. All this just adds to the baffling ironic post-modernity of contemporary life. What am I supposed to think while playing a game that is painfully aware of its own uselessness? It’s not quite the same as watching a camp movie. Very few films — however ludicrous — actually make a deliberate attempt to be bad. The much-pastiched rubber-monster pictures of the 1950s were put together by people who genuinely were trying to scare the pants off you. Goat Simulator seems closer to Fly Fishing by J R Hartley, the book they actually published to celebrate a famous Yellow Pages commercial. You remember? You don’t. Oh well It is rather old…

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