This is the Emotive Pixels podcast covering our group tonight's thoughts on the 2013 Fullbright Company release Gone Home. The game is firmly rooted in the indie genre, winning several 2013 Game Of The Year titles (insert Polygon plug here) alongside other triple-A giants like The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite. What makes this game so good, despite falling firmly in the category the crassest of Steam users tag "walking simulator"? Join us for a hearty discussion and hear our thoughts on the matter!
In the opening minutes, each of the group - Will, Alberto, Brian, Esteban, Nate, and Megan - shares their experiences with leaving home in their own lives, which will set the stage for some of the discussions and particular motivations that arise during the discussions following. Then Esteban takes us away with a brief but well-meaning attempt at summarizing Gone Home's plot, which quickly segues into some thoughts on the nature of expectations when approaching Gone Home - perhaps an integral piece of the reason for Gone Home's rampant success and fame. We discover that one of our friends isn't particularly invested in this style of gameplay, and discuss the nature of what makes a game, with varying degrees of believed complexity. We discuss the nature of communication and whether or not this story could (/should) be boiled down to a single paragraph on a 3x5 post-it note. At that point, we also begin wondering why Sam ran away at all, which quite frankly quickly becomes altogether too much for us and we splinter off into other talks about hair and scalps - most of which was cut.
We discuss lockers, codes, and religious heroin, which are all exciting concepts of game design, and this segues the discussion brilliantly (not) into the reality of morality of lightswitches. Then inevitably, we bring up three-ring binders. Alberto shows his class by describing Gone Home's binders as 'high-class' and, I quote, 'expensive'. And hey wait, why is there an inventory? And then we delve into the application of the 'walking simulator' label, which is of course my personal favorite thing (editor's note). Allegations against thatgamecompany's Flower are leveled, which nearly ends the podcast (a fistfight broke out, no joke). We discuss whether or not haters on this game hate the game or the idea of the game - is plot relevant to these folks? Brian is our scapegoat in this arena.
We discuss the (extremely interesting) concept of forgetting the purpose and nature of joining the military, which everyone should listen carefully to and imagine what things were like once the events of September 2001 reached a fervor pitch. We discuss how following your emotions can sometimes jeopardize your career. Level and set design is discussed, particularly in the case of the horse-blinder-likened attic, which is very exciting for all involved (especially the horses which are strangely omitted in this game). We think anticipation will either ruin you or immerse you, but it will not prepare you for the use of 'orgy' in any way to describe the attic. Brian gets fussy about the lack of backstory, and then Megan goes for a full Mortal Kombat evisceration with a rebuttal: how much can you actually learn about a set of humans from walking into their house? Brian debates some of the finer points of un-realism, to varying degrees of attentive listening. Then, completely un-dramatically, we progress to the discussion of Polygon's brief mentions of familial abuse and other themes that the game touches on. We then talk about the sex ed class papers written by each of the sisters and how these very effectively illustrate characterization; not to mention, how Kaitlyn is our protagonist but not our main character! Then we delve into the trophies in the foyer and how that demonstrates who our main character is - with an OkCupid analogy in case you weren't really getting what we were going for. Then we get into some personal interpretations of why exactly the story is presented in the way that it is - why didn't Sam just write out her new identity on a postcard, for example? Alberto's ancient Spanish is observed to be poor - and then we segue into talking about Sam's Captain Allegra narrative and what it says about D. From there, we speak about the creepy uncle and how Polygon mentions abuse: you'll find out what these two things have in common, in case you didn't know it from looking at photos in the foyer! Then, we move right onto Nate's random mention of S.EXE on RPS.
After that, it's naught ahead but ratings, final thoughts, and some sass. We wrap things up and take you away to whereever your life is going next!
IMPORTANT OTHER LINKS:
PBS' Game/Show via Polygon