Welcome back to Postgame, Sidequest’s monthly-ish podcast where the editors lay down hot takes on cold games. This month, Maddi, Melissa, Zainabb, and Zora discuss Where the Goats Are, a contemplative indie game by solo developer Memory of God, in a book club-style episode.

Topics and Timestamps:

  • Where the Goats Are spoilers throughout.

Pieces (or things) we mentioned:

Theme music is Beat Thee by Alexander Nakarada, used under Creative Commons 0.

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Zainabb Hull: It feels, a lot of the time—you know, how much power do you have, especially as an individual? I’m fairly isolated. There’s only so much I can do outside of a collective sort of thing. And also, for me, I think there’s this sort of understanding that things will always change, and sometimes things will change for the worse. People die, people are harmed. And also things tend to improve as well. This sort of stuff is often out of our hands, and playing through that feeling, almost, of like, “I know what’s coming.” I spent the sort of last third of the game really hoping some miraculous change would happen, that somehow everything would be fine. And that is sort of the energy like, speaking for myself, I have to carry through my daily life because if I don’t—no, don’t want to think about that. You kind of have to have that hope, even if, you know, things are ending. But also I really appreciated that this particular apocalypse—a lot of a time of apocalyptic media shows a lot of harm being done, a lot of violence, a lot of, you know, people being the worst they could possibly be. And I really liked that Where the Goats Are shows just an old lady looking after animals until the end, essentially, and being in her home until the end. And in reality, that’s what people are doing every day, you know?

Melissa Brinks: I liked the game basically said “What Tikvah is doing is enough.”

Zainabb: Yeah.

Melissa: It’s not, “She needed to do more.” Existing and being content with her existence—if that’s how we interpret her—the game doesn’t say “One must imagine Tikvah happy.” It doesn’t say that. But if that is how you read Tikvah, the game essentially says, “This is enough. It is enough to tend what is in front of you.”

Zainabb: Yeah.

Melissa: “And to engage with that with care.” I mean, of course, you could play Tikvah as somebody who doesn’t give a shit about her chickens and just lets them die. I don’t know why you would do that, but you could.

Zainabb: Yeah, me neither.

Melissa: You could.

Zainabb: But then you probably be the sort of person who contributes to the end of the world, innit?

Melissa: It’s very interesting, because the game doesn’t stop you from doing that. it’s just a question of like, why?

Zainabb: But why?

Melissa: Would you play that? Why play this game if that’s your—

Zainabb: Yeah.

Zora Gilbert: Yeah.

Melissa: The potential for that [is] really interesting, but to me the game really felt like it was just saying like, “What Tikvah is doing is enough,” which is not the same as, like, “Well we should all just give up and tend our gardens” or whatever.

Zainabb: Yeah.

Melissa: There’s an inevitability to this game, and the game effectively says, you know, it’s okay to live in the world that you have. You don’t have to be the chosen one hero of the day. When you’re fighting an inevitable apocalypse, in this case, you can also be content with what you have.

Zainabb: Yeah. Oh, go on.

Zora: Oh, I was just gonna say, I think that the the reprieve this game offers in allowing me to accept what was happening to Tikvah, it sort of replenishes the strength I have in my actual real life.

Melissa: Yes, that’s a really good—

Zora: —to try to do what I can towards positive change and accept that the positive change I—

Zainabb: Yeah.

Zora: —I influence isn’t world saving, necessarily. But it could improve somebody’s day, and doing that is worth doing and also better than not doing anything.

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