“What if the Untitled Goose Game was your entire computer?” asked nobody but Sam Chiet until this week. 18-year-old Chiet has created an app for Windows PCs that spawns a virtual goose to cause mayhem on your desktop. Much like the game, this goose is annoying and will spread virtual mud all over your screen while honking profusely. It also drags memes or cartoons above your apps, but don’t dare try to close them otherwise this wild fowl will grab hold of your mouse pointer and mess with you.
If you remember BonziBuddy from 1999 then this is similar to that odd era of computing, but way more annoying and strangely adorable. If you leave it running for 30 minutes, you’ll probably come back to your PC and find the goose has run truly wild, spawning little notes that look like Microsoft’s Notepad app and plenty of honk cartoons.
You can even customize Desktop Goose to add whatever images, GIFs, and memes you want the goose to drag onto the screen and obstruct your view. If that’s not annoying enough, you can hack the goose to adjust its aggression and add MP3s that will open when you start it up. Had enough? Simply hold the Esc key to evict the goose from your Windows PC.
Chiet built this app over a few days, purely for fun. “I’m a big fan of things that are delightfully ridiculous, and that’s hopefully exactly what this is,” explains Chiet. “It’s a little desktop ‘assistant’ whose sole purpose is to get in the way of your work, and people are responding to it.”
It’s also a reminder of the garish era of the internet, back in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s when Clippy would pester you or you could install apps like BonziBuddy. “If you look back, that’s pretty bad design by a lot of (okay, literally all) standards today,” says Chiet. “But I think they also had so much more personality. And even though what we have today is certainly very clean, usable software, I can’t help but feel like something was lost in that sanitization.”
A modding community has now appeared overnight since the app went viral, and people have been creating fan art and even using it on Twitch streams. “It’s blown up into something so much bigger creatively, I had no way of seeing this coming,” says Chiet. “So my current mission is to enable all the people who are doing crazy shit with it.”
If you’ve always dreamed of having a virtual goose harass you all day, you can download the Desktop Goose app over at Chiet’s site.
Update, January 30th 11:05AM ET: Article updated with comments from the app author, Sam Chiet.