Games developer creates Goat Simulator for a laugh, and it looks accidentally brilliant

Suggested tagline: “Be the goat you want to see in the world.”

One of the most talked-about games right now isn't a big console franchise like Call of Duty, or even a smartphone free-to-play hit like Flappy Bird (although Flappy Bird is certainly getting attention beyond all reason considering how dumb a game it is). No, we're here today to talk about Goat Simulator, the game of being a goat:

It's only an alpha version – that means a rough first draft, in computer games development terms – that was knocked together in three days by Swedish developer Coffee Stain Studios for the Global Game Jam. The glitchy video above, with a goat ramming into lamp posts and jumping off a tall tower, has become their biggest hit so far, thanks to reddit-love.

The whole thing has left them somewhat baffled, because there's no gameplay mechanic here other than “hitting stuff”, but this is genuinely one of the most enticing games I've seen in ages. It's like Grand Theft Auto, without the annoying missions getting in the way. And you're a goat, crashing parties:

The demand for a full release of what was only meant to be a tech demo has meant that the studio is considering what to do next, with Coffee Stain Studios PR head Armin Ibrisagic telling Vice that they're going to “see how it goats”. But we live in a world where the most mundane things can get their own simulator games – there's a thriving, if somewhat niche, market for things like Street Cleaner SimulatorGarbage Truck Simulator and Farming Simulator, after all:

Live the life you were born to lead, my boy. Image: Screenshot

Ian Steadman is a staff science and technology writer at the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @iansteadman.

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Listening to recordings from the Antarctic, I felt I could hear the earth groan

The Science Hour on the BBC World Service.

A weekend of listening to the radio news ­revealed nothing but sounds of the sucker-punched going through their pockets in a panic and repeating, “I thought you had the keys.” So, never was talk of “a perfectly flat area of just whiteness” more alluring. The oldest Antarctic ice yet recorded was recently found. “For millions of years,” the presenter Roland Pease assured listeners  (25 June, 9am), “snow has been falling, snow on snow, all the while trapping bubbles of air and other chemical traces of climate . . . insights into the ice ages and warm periods of the past.” How was this ice located? “The finding part is pretty easy – you just go there and start shovelling, and ice comes up,” the lead geologist, Jaakko Putkonen, said.

There it was, buried under a layer of dirt “in barren wastelands” high in the middle of Antarctica. An “incredibly mountainous and remote and . . . quite hideous region, really”, Pease said, though it was sounding pretty good to me. The world dissolved into a single, depthless tone. Then Pease mentioned the surprising fizzing of this ancient ice – trapped air bubbles whooshing as they melt. Which is perhaps the thing you least expect about ice regions and ice caps and glaciers: the cacophony. Thuds and moans. Air that folds and refolds like the waving of gigantic flags. Iced water sleeping-dragonishly slurping and turning.

On Friday Greenpeace posted a video of the pianist Ludovico Einaudi giving a haunting performance on a floating platform to mark an imminent meeting of the OSPAR Commission, as it decided on a proposal to safeguard 10 per cent of the Arctic Ocean. Einaudi looked occasionally stunned by the groaning around him. A passing glacier popped and boomed like the armies of Mordor, ice calving from its side, causing mini-tsunamis. When last year I spent some time at the remote Eqi Glacier in Greenland, close to the ice cap, local people certainly spoke of the ice as if it were living: “It’s quiet today,” delivered as though gazing at the fractious contents of a Moses basket.

“This huge cake of ice, basically flat”, Putkonen said, perhaps longing for a moment of deep-space silence, for peaceful detachment. He wasn’t the only one being forced to reappraise a landscape very differently.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 30 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit lies