This year, I spent thanksgiving with family. Lately it feels like a rarity for me, because I’m such a private person. My privacy is due to a host of life problems that are constantly stewing around my head. It ruins my mood, and the last thing I want is to feel bitter and old around them.
But I enjoyed myself, and came back with a host of fresh ideas. I’m still in the same place, dealing with the same stuff, but I feel as though my perspective is different. It’s refreshing and important to change an angle in your life, so you have a better idea of where you want your future to take you.
But what do you do, when you go home to a place that doesn’t belong to you? That’s a question that I asked myself when I started up Gone Home for the very first time. Things are different when you go home to a family that you know, regardless of how long it’s been. You settle in, you grab a drink, you catch up and talk as if nothing has changed. My first minute of gone home, after I found a way to unlock the front door, I wondered why I couldn’t bring my luggage in from the front porch.
Seems a little too ‘nitpicky’, but if that’s my stuff why can’t I at least take care of my own belongings?
So yeah, it took me a while to get into this game.
Well, I shouldn’t say game. It isn’t one, it’s an interactive story. There’s no way to win, there’s no way to lose, it’s just a house and a monologue. The monologue is played out by the more you snoop around the house. I’ll remind you again that this was the first hurdle I had with this story. You don’t really know anything until you start digging through drawers and cupboards and notebooks. But I didn’t understand who I was supposed to be, in order to me to feel ok with prying. So the first bit of the game was for me to find a comfort zone, because if I wanted to know what was going on, I would have to start invading the privacy of the people that live here.
It was interesting to me, how my own real life morals were effecting my play.
I’m really going to try and talk about it without giving it away, because how Gone Home tells it’s story is the only thing it has. To be honest, there’s a lot going on in this story that I wish I could explore more than the over arching story that it’s trying to tell. For the sake and interest in the thing it’s trying to say, it does an alright job. Though, my wandering and poking around had shown me, there’s a lot more going on in this house that I’ve become more interested in. The monologues are in the perspective of someone in the family, and I’m sure it’s an interesting story to tell, but since most of the narrative is scattered amongst various side stories, it would have been wonderful for Fullbright to give you the opportunity to look into everyone else’s life.
It’s not to knock the main story at all, but it’s hard for it to hold my interest when your own character has things in the house, and other people have things in the house. There’s even a history about the house itself that is much more interesting than a coming of age story that gets diluted.
It does manage to tug at some of my strings. I’ve had to deal with something personal for a very long time. I still do, because I have no real answer for it. But I’ve become very susceptible to a specific emotional connection. So it’s probably why there are things in this experience that are kind of conflicting with me. When I at first believe something is wrong, then later find out that the narrative is kind of selfish, I am left wondering how much I should have actually cared.
There is two sides to this for me. When I go home, family is important. I spend time with them because I rarely see them, I fit in with conversation, and I entertain the nieces. When I’m with others I’m present, I’m happy, it feels good to have family. But if I come home to an empty house, it’s none of my business. I’ll find a spot to be at home and make due with the emptiness. I may look for a reason why no one is home, but then I will wait.
Even though the note on the front door of the house was enough for me, I had to play along. I gave this person all the attention in the world even though I felt like they were irresponsible. I would find passive-aggressive letters all over the place, and read about a teenager behaving like a teenager. More and more I feel like the person’s father than a sister, and I think I’m missing the point.
Some how this all goes back to a detail that a friend asked. “Do you think this would have been better as a movie? Giving you a main character to see experience and react to the details of this house?”
I think he’s right. Because here’s the flaw: This isn’t my family, and I don’t know enough about the person that I’m supposed to be, to feel anything about the area around me. The connection would have been stronger, or made more sense, if my character reacted to everything that they were seeing. In this case, a middle man is necessary to help identify with everything. Otherwise you’re just a stranger in a house.
Maybe the game should have let me bring my bag in.
Overall, I suppose I’m a prude. There’s a part of me that feels like I’m missing so much more details. details in my relationship to the monologue, everyone else’s relationship to the monologue. It’s important to understand why it turns out the way it does. Though I suppose the details into why you would care vary from person to person. Critical acclaim suggests that it’s an amazing experience, and that Fullbright is changing the way you look at a video game. I on the other hand, suggest it’s a nice ’empty house’ simulator, in which I feel too much like a stranger; on the outside, prying in.