There are several themes and motifs in the video game World of Goo. This article lists some of the themes, along with the symbols used in representing them.
Although not a very plot-oriented game, World of Goo still manages to subtly imply several beliefs about topics like corporations and vanity. The inspiration for this article can be found at
Industrialization, consumerism, and big business
|“||The windmills were supposed to be a source of cheap clean energy to power the entire world. But they weren't enough. And a different source of energy had to be found.||”|
As early on as Hang Low in Chapter 1, World of Goo explores the relationship between nature and big business, through an example such as the first disturbance of a natural cave that has gone unharmed for thousands of year, in search of something, in this instance White Goo. At the completion of Hang Low, World of Goo Corporation is introduced. It is shown like a skyscraper compared to its customers, who stand gawking at it, implying their purpose is solely to be consumers in an increasingly industrial world.
The search for another source of energy as indicated in Blustery Day hints at the other major theme of the game, the prevalence of beauty, with the Sign Painter's question, "But what is it? Coal? Nuclear? Wind? ...Goo? It’s probably something more elegant."
The slogan you can't stop progress is seen several times throughout the game, and alludes to World of Goo Corporation's increasing expansion until its demise at the outset of Chapter 4. Another instance occurs in Incineration Destination of Chapter 3 in which the Sign Painter says of the old robot, "There's one left. It's so cute! But the pipe is right behind his head. Well... you can't stop progress.".
A few stabs, mostly through cutscenes, are made about consumers and a materialistic world. World of Goo Corporation provides products such as energy drinks and facial cream.
Beauty, vanity, and cosmetics
|“||If a Goo Ball falls into a well 10 meters deep and climbs up 3 meters each day but slides down 2 meters at night... will he still look fabulous in the morning?||”|
The preoccupation with beauty in likely the largest theme in the game, and it is portrayed the clearest. The first implication of the importance of appearances is introduced in Ivy Towers, in which the Sign Painter shows himself to be a bit vain.
The Sign Painter goes on to show his own infatuation with vanity with writings such as "Smile for the cameras! Everyone is looking so fabulous tonight!" in The Red Carpet, and "Pretty ones over there, Ugly ones over here. Personally, I think everyone is beautiful. Mostly me." in Genetic Sorting Machine.
During one cutscene during the game, a female customer is seen applying facial cream to herself, with wide eyes and a smile.
Sacrifice and the greater good
|“||It will be a tight fit, you might have to leave some behind... but that's probably ok, we're all in it together.||”|
Started with the Sign Painter's progressive statement of "we're all in it together" in Regurgitation Pumping Station in Chapter 1, a theme of sacrifice for the sake of a greater good emerges several times.
Further establishments of the theme are shown in later levels. In The Red Carpet, a complete structure of White Goo is subjected to death by spikes for the sake of a Beauty Goo being allowed access over them. This subtle message of stepping on the "little people" also furthers the theme of the coveting of beauty. In Genetic Sorting Machine, three Ugly Goo are broken down to, once again, give safety and passage to a Beauty Goo over a pit of spikes, this time saying "There must be some way to cross this pit. Maybe if you fill it with the shattered pieces of those less fortunate than you.'"
World of Goo Corporation
World of Goo Corporation is the first half of the motif in representing industrialization. They represent the large half of the motif, with the customers standing for the rest of it. The Corporation, with a very nondescript name and lack of a leader or public face or spokesperson, stands throughout the game leading into Chapter 4 as a menacing, omnipresent force.
The customers are the other, lesser half of the motif representing industrialization. In the buyer/seller relationship, the customers are treated as less important. They are crudely drawn, and are very minuscule in size, both of which stand to imply their importance, or lack thereof.
Time after time, they are shown to be worth more than the Ugly Goo. Where as the Ugly Goo cannot enter pipes, Beauty Goo have their own pipe.
Opposite Beauty Goo are Ugly Goo, along with Small Ugly Goo. Their contrast from Beauty Goo could not be more apparent. They are used frequently (Volcanic Percolator Day Spa, Genetic Sorting Machine) as symbols for the lower class.
Ugly Goo are aesthetically very different than Beauty Goo, which is shown is several ways. Where the Ugly Goo has sandy brown coloring, the Beauty Goo has enviable red and pink coloring. Where the Ugly Goo has twitchy and slightly crossed eyes, the Beauty Goo has perfectly shaped eyes. Where the Ugly Goo has mismatched eyelashes, the Beauty Goo has all even lengths. Where the Ugly Goo is covered in hairs, the Beauty Goo is shaven perfectly. Where the Ugly Goo has a large, hairy mole, the Beauty Goo has a smaller one, without hair.