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Firstly I should state that I honestly wouldn’t believe that this is actually the first text you would read about Gone Home. Considering that I will focus mainly on proving how everyone’s wrong and I’m right about it, because I’m the smartest guy around.
Common complaint about the game is stating that it actually isn’t a game. Now, you see, it is okay that it’s the game someone wouldn’t like, but it doesn’t stop Gone Home from being one. Yes, it has a rather simplistic gameplay that can be described as walking around, looking at things and, well, listening to audio-diaries of a questioning teen. And deciding that it isn’t enough is virtually the same as reducing complex form of art to a tiny fraction of it. Experience points, health bar, combat, puzzles, possibility of losing the game — all of it is nothing more than a method you can use to entertain the audience. Without them Gone Home still has a story to tell, has a path of progression organized inside a mansion in a metroidvania-esque kind of way. And these are the methods and means, too. Now, are they enough is a separate question. The fact that you can actually get the end credits in two minutes knowing the right path, doesn’t all of a sudden make the process of discovering this route less meaningful. Actually that’s all this game is about. Telling a fairly simple story with unusual means; not completely unusual, right, because a concept of hiding backstory in in-game objects isn’t something new for video games. But Gone Home takes one more step into empowering this particular method of organizing game structure and story.
Rotating Street Fighter SNES cartridge while listening to Heavens to Betsy wouldn’t count as a universally appealing thing. Nostalgia about being a teen in early 90s isn’t a feeling you can force yourself to feel. In a similar way, feeling satisfied from re-constructing a story in your head with no visible on-screen results may be a concept that’s just too imagination-oriented for everyone. How to be sure that you didn’t fail, that you didn’t miss some things? Maybe there is more to the story than the main bulk of it that just auto-launches in audio form when you reach next “story point”? Well, yes, there is. And no, you can’t detect whether you’ve seen it or not, unless of course you’re a sentient human being and have an ability to google things on the internet. The game though won’t acknowledge the fact that you solved some mystery in any way. This makes it a more intimate experience, if you’re invested in story of course.
This leads us to the second most common complaint about Gone Home. It states the following: the game would receive far less attention from the media and gamers in general if it didn’t have teenage lesbians as main protagonists. This leads to a conclusion that the game’s story is not interesting, that the game itself is terrible. While the premise is actually true, funny thing is that it is so only due to a high amount of people posting all along the internet, that if Gone Home didn’t have young teenage lesbians it wouldn’t get as much attention and, of course, concluding that the game isn’t worth anyone’s attention. What’s really amusing here is that the game doesn’t really imply anything with its story. It’s like a modern short realistic novel: unusual but nevertheless possible. Despite your abhorrence to anything, if it exists — it exists. There’s no moral in here. Teens really did have a problem coming out to their parents about being gay. Gone Home crosses the line of comfort zone for story-driven video games. There isn’t an awful lot of them which use a realistic setting. I doubt that anyone sane enough would call military shooters realistic speaking of their plot. All that’s left are historical strategies and various simulators. You can find sci-fi, fantasy alternative history, hyper stylised noir stories any day. And, well, telling stories about ordinary humans is just as important for an art form, for its development. In short summary: it’s a love story, and it’s actually quite good. And having trouble with it because of a bigotry is massively stupid. If you really have a problem with someone’s sexuality… I thought about writing that I’m sorry that I couldn’t change it, but came up with a different one: you can go fuck yourself.