when the pasture goats go virtual

Posted by on April 4, 2014 in blog | 3 comments

reverence {from the video game, goat simulator}


i do not know the 380 people who have posted comments or shared on twitter about the essay i wrote for pc gamer magazine. i do not know why they read my words or their stories about why the essay was relevant to them.

yet i feel compelled to thank each one, each @ or # or whatever symbol has come to represent a human at a screen.

i don’t know if ever in my life 380 people have read my work. i do know 380 people have never before shared or commented on a single piece of my work.

i’m humbled and i’m grateful. but i am also insatiably curious about what connected them to my experiences, so different from the game they are reading about in my words.

twitter doesn’t allow for much conversation. the virtual world allows us to comment, but i don’t think it invites engagement.

i yearn for that connection. so many years in a classroom, asking students to listen, share, workshop their words, discuss their response, reactions, resonance.

in a newsroom, reacting to the work we publish, discussing stories, searching for angles.

now it’s often just me, and a screen. much like the gamers who reacted to my writing. but i manipulate words instead of digitally fashioned, rendered, concepted characters. the images i work with are just moments of reality that i snagged in my butterfly net lens, and i fall in love with the faces and forms and figures as i control color, light, tone. yet they are static, stuck in that lcd dimension of pixels and glow. can i trace the shape of a face until a smile forms?

she does not smile back at me. it is, simply, me and a screen.

nicole tilde, a real-world friendpoet, says she yearns for response to her words. she is brave enough to write every day, never expecting to hear how the shape of her moments sculpted out of wind and chicken feathers settled into a reader’s skin.

i am not brave, like nicole. i write emails because i desire a reply. i yearn for the connection that says my words are being heard, felt, absorbed. it doesn’t matter if the writing is more logistical than poem. or if the response is clipped, abbreviated into b4 or culater or same2u.

the twitter stream from ‘goats love champagne’ continues to grow, but slower now, these 48 hours after the story first appeared online. most comments now are in other languages and briefer than the 160 characters allowed.

i’m on new terrain in this world of shout from the rooftops while no one listens. i don’t know yet if i like my work being trumpeted about as i sit, silently, in this virtual sea of noise, staring at a screen.





  1. I think it’s proof that video games and gaming are immensely popular (I mean, really, really big, it’s just a sense, but there it is). Also, it’s proof that a well-written, engaging story will appeal to readers. Great story, A.

  2. I think the yearning might be more about ‘conversation’ than simply response. Conversations about art and inspiration. Conversations about how one form of art can inspire and add to another. Exactly what you’ve done here. xoxoxo

  3. Hi Angelina – I read your essay after seeing the trailer for goat simulator. I am not a video game player and was struck by the fact that was so much violence in the trailer, so I googled for goat simulator and violence to see if anyone else thought it was violent. I’m with you in finding goats to be lovely, endearing, curious, entertaining creatures who are normally non-violent and gentle. Head-butting and other domineering behaviors to keep the herd hierarchy in place are fascinating to watch, but certainly don’t approach mayhem. In your essay you asked the question, “Are there any goats in San Francisco?.” My daughter had dairy goats for 4H for about 7 years. While we didn’t live in San Francisco proper, we did live in Silicon Valley south of San Francisco. We kept the goats in Cupertino, the heart of Silicon Valley, in a Cupertino city park which was originally a horse ranch. We did on occasion drive through San Francisco on 19th Avenue with goats in the back of my pick-up on the way to various goat shows north of the Golden Gate. It’s not often you see livestock being transported on 19th Avenue. I thought the exaggerated tongue in the video captured the goofiness of the tongue of an amorous buck:)

Leave a Comment