Life involves trauma; however, how people choose to let that trauma affect them matters and how healing occurs. Gris and Gone Home are about learning to heal from traumatic events and acceptance of oneself and others; the games are about finding love and acceptance in the darkest places, such as the underwater trench or the hidden pathways of a seemingly-abandoned home.
Writing this essay, I chose to write the thesis and final paragraph first. However, I included information that I did not want as my last paragraph, so I copied it out and applied it to my first two paragraphs. There are three main parts to see, the two compare and contrast paragraphs and the final thesis and conclusion section. In each part of the compare and contrast paragraphs, I chose to compare my two main ideas. Writing this essay, I recognized the true nature of Gone Home and Terry’s important role in the story. He is such an essential piece of the entire game, and it is somewhat disappointing that I and many others overlooked him during our playthrough.
(Pre-game): The phone call is very intriguing to players. And looking back right now, I find the phone call from Katie to her Mom offers a smooth and attractive introduction to the game. Also it is covers the main background story effectively and without procrastination. The three beeps right after the end of the call are really loud, or should I say, they are meant to be loud in order to foreshadow some alerting signs. So far so good, great transition to the actual game. Loving it…
(At the front door): It is 1:15 am. I’m at the front door of my house. Now the game has established its setting; it’s done in a quick fashion. Visually it is dark around me. Outside the door, the light is so dim that I could barely see. In fact, weak light makes me anxious. The sound effect corresponds to the gloomy feeling as well, with the extra disturbing rain and thunderstorm…I hear heavy footsteps by myself, which makes me even more nervous. I don’t quite know what I’m supposed to do at first. I checked the front door and then some corners. I opened the doors of the cupboard, and I found a key. This should lead me to the main entrance of the building…I like the design of this game. A first person narrative always makes me feel more closely connected to the character. It also gives a better look of the computer screen than the third person narrative. Players’ visions are cleaner and larger. It gives me a feeling that I’m in a detecting/searching game, something like a breakout room but definitely some horror breakout room. Will I see some bodies or some crimes? I have no idea. Let’s get inside and search the house…
This game has very intuitive control systems. I used WASD to move and right-click to pick up and inspect any object, and it was easy for me to get started. The first thing I noticed was the overall vibe of the surroundings. It was a stormy night and there is nobody at home to welcome the returning protagonist. The first thing I did was to turn on all the desk lamps and lights to make the surroundings easier to explore.
I noticed the music was not horrifying. Instead it gives off a warm yet sad vibe with strings instruments. From this I can conclude that this will not be a horror game but instead a mystery game about the protagonist’s family, likely her sibling, who left a note on the front porch about trying not to find her.
I found Sam’s backpack and her voice journal started playing as she wrote to the protagonist, her older sister about her first day in school and being identified as “the psycho house girl”. It certainly seemed like she did not enjoy her new high school experience.
I went into the protagonist’s father’s study as well as his library. It seems as if he is mostly concerned in three things: his work, the assassination of JFK, and, his daughter Sam. There were many journals and books in his rooms that showed his obsession about JFK. Above his work desk, there was a note saying, “check up with Sam” as well as a book on the library shelves about “Understanding Teenagers”.
I’ve started live blogging while playing through Gone Home! I have just gotten past the opening of the game and found the key to unlocking the house. Here’s the assignment page.
The game starts off with a dark screen and an audio message the protagonist leaves for her family, saying that she is returning from her trip and will arrive late. The character then starts the game in the front porch, along with the tutorial for different actions, you find out that the protagonist went on a trip to Europe when you open up the backpack and find a passport and flight ticket. The first “stage/scene” is the dark porch with no lights and in the background, with a somewhat creepy mood as you hear heavy rain pouring down. The door is initially locked, and you find a note from Sam saying something about not being able to meet her until someday, which first sets up for the mystery the game will be based around.
I have come to a stop after completely exploring the left wing of house on the first floor (other than the locked basement at the end of the hallway). Through this process, the protagonist finds notes from her younger sister telling her about how her situation at the new high school. Through looking over documents found on the floor and the father’s cabinet, we also learn that this house was inherited from the father’s uncle, and it seems like he has gone crazy before dying and passing his possessions to the father, which is why the student at school call Sam the girl who lives in the psycho house. The father is a writer of books and reviews but through letters from editors we know that his books are not selling, and reviews aren’t liked by the editor, overall in quite a slump. Also, through listening to the recording of the telephone, we learn that Sam seems to have gone missing before our voice message of arriving late to home. Some notes Sam leaves for us about keeping secret what we find in the attic also sets up for upcoming content of the game while giving us a goal of where we might want to look next. The creators so far have been setting up tension for the players with the empty house, continue rain with occasional thunder, as well notes from the sister.
I have now completed the game. The play through took a lot longer than I have expected. There were a lot of things to look for while playing and I had to look up guides at several points while progressing through the game. Instead of the horror I have thought this game might incorporate, it simply told a love story of Sam and her girlfriend Lonnie as I looked searched through the house and found notes and journals left by Sam. There were a lot of clues I had to look out for and even look online sometimes when I have gotten stuck. While playing this game, I realized that you are free to search around areas you have unlocked but there are always “story locked” areas that you will not be able to access. This means that even if you know where certain secret passages are, you cannot access them prior to having found certain story related items. This makes sure that players are getting the full story in proper order but at the same time I found it sometimes frustrating when I have somehow either gone ahead or missed something in certain rooms and need to return and look for clues/items again.
I thought this was a pretty well-made game overall. There were a lot of details relating to the family and the story players find while exploring the house and going through the objects. This way of storytelling through interaction with objects require the players to actively look for clues and think about how they might relate to the main plot as the explore the game.
I am beginning to play through the game, “Gone Home,” from the request of my English professor, David Morgen. https://eng101f20.davidmorgen.org/quests/side-quests/side-quest-3-liveblogging-gone-home/. From what I can, the opening phone call makes the main character out to be a young girl who got to be on her own for the first time in a faraway place and has newfound confidence in her self by showing her trying to be independent, thus not wanting her mom to pick her up from the airport. However, the grim music and moody lighting of the start give a quick indication of the game genre. Upon arrival, the dark atmosphere, combined with the slow walking pace and heavy rainfall, gives off a mysterious and grim tone to the game. The note on the door with the names mom dad crossed out to show the main character’s oddities as she searches for her family and piece together whatever she possibly can.
Just started playing Gone Home. The opening screen shows a house in the forest during the night. The opening music is very ominous, so I speculate that this game is going to be very tense.
Opening sequence: I was honestly pretty scared during the opening sequence. I could still hear the ominous music playing over the rain and occasional thunder which raised my heartbeat. There were also a few occasions where I heard the door creak, the wind gets louder, and the lights flicker from the inside of the room. The use of an audio message from the first-person narrator to her mom was a good way to establish character. It was nice how I could attribute a voice and personality to the character. I spent a few minutes looking around the front porch for more items, but I only found the key. I think the rest of the game will also be scary for me, although the sound of rain and thunder will be softer inside the house.
In the main room: The first thing I did was go to the bathroom because it was the closest room. There was not much there. I also looked through the right closet, but I didn’t find anything. On a desk, to the left of the stairwell, I found a note claiming that my neighbor daniel was weird, and wanted our house back. There was also a message left on the phone desperately asking for Sam. I will most likely go left to see what I can find before going up the stairs.
I checked the first drawer and found an obituary for the man that most likely owned this house before. In the closet next to it, I found a list and a journal entry implying that Sam might be depressed.
Inside the TV room: There was no door to this room, and the TV was on, so that really creeped me out. I looked through the room and there was another journal entry from Samyalking about making friends. Our dad, Terry, seems to be an editor of some kind. He also seems to be obsessed with JFK. I will go to the room next.
Secret room: I went into the secret room and it was really weird at first. I thought it must have been from Oscar, but it ended up being from Sam too. There was a strange red light in one of the rooms, I will check that out next.
Honestly, this really scared me. It was really unexpected. I was afraid to turn over the picture, but I was pretty sure that it would be Oscar because Sam claimed that the house was owned by a psycho. I am interested to see what’s in the attic, although I have a feeling it will be a dead body.
In the secret entrance, I picked up the crucifix and dropped it, and immediately the lights turned off. I immediately turned away and covered my head. I was almost too scared to continue the game, but my fascination drove me on.
End: I finished the game. Honestly, I am kind of disappointed. I am glad Sam is ok and happy, but I was really hoping there were some freaky things going on like Oscar’s ghost haunting the house. I think the game did an excellent job of subverting our expectations and placing things like red paint and scary games in order to build a false sense of fear. I enjoyed my time playing this game.
9:45: I’m not sure if the wind is coming from my surroundings or because my computer is overheating. Nevertheless, this front porch is penetrating darkness. The shadow illuminated by the windows could be from a tree, but all that seems to come to mind is the picture of BFG depicted on character books. I’m not sure if my character is coming home of if they rushed home because Sam is in danger, but maybe if I can come inside I’ll know. Just typing this out makes me feel nervous; I’m suddenly hypersensitive to the doors outside the apartment opening and closing as if something is going to happen to me when I go inside the door.
10:30: I’ve been walking aimlessly. It took me too long to find the key. I am filled with anxiety; there is something startling about walking in a large house alone. Not to mention, Sam’s journal referred to herself as the “psycho house girl”. What is wrong with this house?! The weather alert especially made me uneasy. I feel brought back to 2012 during Hurricane Sandy when my family lost power for two weeks. We since moved out of the house, but walking in the darkness with an aimless goal forever remains ingrained, and this game reignited that memory. Darkness is so central to this game that even walking into the light makes me wary.
There existed a sense of foreboding in the front porch. With a flickering light, the place grew eerie. Near the window, thundering and rain is what I could hear but as I got closer to the main door, the noise seemed to faint. This hints at the extent of time I spent looking for the key. That attention to detail raised my expectations for what was behind that main door.
I’m an all for clues person. Solving mysteries is my thing. I’m beginning to play this game with caution. I do not know if that’s the right attitude. I just checked the toilet paper for it could mean something. Roaming in the hallways and searching every room minute by minute made me impatient. To my dismay, not all rooms bore clues. Music library was one of them.
Right now, I am near the dad’s office. I hear two men talking.
Though it turned out to be the TV, that thought was blood curdling. Reading every crumpled note from trash, I could feel what Samantha was going through. I then climbed the stairs. Picking up clues along the way, I reached an area with red lights. It cautioned not to enter if the red lights were on. Though every bit of me wanted to explore that further, I couldn’t find the entrance to it.
I’ve just learned about the existence of a secret room. I’m headed there. As thrilling as the path was with the panel opening from the wall, there was a feeling of disappointment on climbing down to the secret room. By then I had reached a conclusion of my own. Probably, Samantha’s parents were too hard on her so she fled with Lonnie, her lover; her parents might have gone to find her. I’m still traversing through the house so I might keep adding more.
My eyes were strained during the game, but I kept going. With pulling every bulb string, I had chills going down my spine. It felt as if unveiling the entire mystery was the only way I could swallow food down my throat.
It’s a rainy gloomy evening in Mumbai. It’s dark when I look outside, even though it’s just close to 6:00 PM. Blissfully unaware of what the game was like, I decided to play Gone Home– not my brightest idea.
As the game started, I could hear the roaring sound of the rain, and the deafening thunder. I was on the front porch of what was supposed to be my home, but there was nothing that made me feel welcome. It was dark, periodically illuminated by sudden discharges of lightning. I saw the note that someone called Sam (possibly a sibling) had stuck on the main door– they were missing. I figured that the goal of the game was likely to figure out why they ran away and/or to find them. This did not improve the emotions I was feeling, the suspense heightened, and the game started feeling increasingly like a horror game. Horror– my least favorite genre.
I tried to get into the house, but I could not figure out how. It took me an embarrassingly long time, much longer than I’d like to admit. I tried walking into the door, I walked around the porch 20-30 times, to no avail. At some point, I thought my laptop had a technical issue and that the game was glitching, so I quit and restarted. After several minutes I found the key and cursed myself for how obvious it had been. I entered the house, and the sense of eerie persisted.
Maybe it’s because I don’t usually play video games and I don’t really have much to compare it to, but the visual effects of the game thus far really struck me as beautiful, in a sinister and dangerous way. This, along with the sound, really set the atmosphere and make the game-playing experience more immersive. Another minor detail which I found very interesting was how the game manages to establish the time, location, character and situation (the character returning home after a long trip) without explicitly saying any of it.I figured out these facts by listening to the message she leaves for her mother, and looking at things like her passport and boarding pass.
But anyway, back to the ‘home’ I have to explore.
There are a couple boxes laying around, it seems like the family is moving out. I went to the bathroom, and didn’t find anything too interesting. However, the faucets were in working condition and there was some soap by the washbasin. Outside, the telephone was in working condition as well. There were some messages left on the machine too. Someone is calling Sam because they’re in trouble. These things made it seem like the people living in the house (my parents and Sam) had left all of a sudden, and it was unplanned. Something was wrong.
I ascend the looming staircase. I fumble around trying to make sense of all that I see. I learn that Janice Greenbriar (presumably the mother) is a Senior Conservationist. They live in Boon County. Small details that help build the characters without meeting or seeing them.
I’ve been walking around the house picking up on random details. My father is a writer working on a new book. Someone (certainly the dad) is also obsessed with the death of JFK. He’s got a whole room dedicated to this. Also, the house originally belonged to someone called Oscar Masan, who we learn is the deceased, ‘psycho’ uncle. This is getting interesting. I feel myself losing the ‘creeped out’ feeling and gaining the ‘I need to know more’ feeling. I am more comfortable with the spooky and borderline morbid vibe of the game.
I see a door that has a warning sign on it. ‘Caution: Radiation Area. Keep Out.’ I’ve played this game long enough to know that I definitely should NOT keep out. There was something important in there. I enter into what the map tells me is Sam’s room. There was a locker with some female models’ pictures pasted on top. I open the locker and there’s a magazine in there called ‘Gentleman’. It is, quite clearly, ‘the Magazine for Men’. What’s it doing here? I listen to Sam’s journal entry. She has a friend called Lonnie who is afraid she’s done something wrong. I spot some clothes in the locker with the anti-theft tag on them. Was that it? Maybe. I listen further. Turns out, Lonnie kissed Sam who is a lesbian. (Maybe the word ‘friend’ wasn’t appropriate). I’m a sucker for teenage couples, so for a moment I got quite excited. Suddenly, I heard a piercing sound: thunder, and I remembered that this was not some cheesy rom-com. Sam had still run away, and the house was still terrifying. I tried to make sense of what all I just found out. Did Sam run away with Lonnie? Was she afraid to come out as a lesbian to her parents? Why did she have stolen clothes in her locker? Did Lonnie steal them? Is she covering up for Lonnie? So many questions, but for me, the game just got really, really interesting.
Just got through the door. Took a lot longer than it should have. Some of the things I tried before finding and using the key were: moving toward the door hoping to break it, throwing the Christmas Duck at the door, throwing the cup at the door, and doing a combination of the above. First few minutes served as learning: how to move and how the game interacts with me. I notice I am probing on a very deep level: I almost feel like a child in a candy store in the sense that there’s one hundred things I want to try, hopefully succeeding in one or two of them. Some other notes: I feel as though I am not Telescoping practically at all. I literally do not even know a single goal, but perhaps this has to do with core idea of the game. One thing that struck me in the second Bogost reading was the phrase “the medium is the message” and it is likely this is what developers hoped for at the start: confusion at the very start before one understands their tasks, much like the situation in which one comes home and no one is there. Enjoying it so far.
Main room: Okay things are getting a wee bit scary. Turned sound on: mistake. The voice recording of our character saying ‘Sam’ is bone-chilling, and I thought something jumped out at me when I opened the bathroom door. Maybe I’m just a wimp. My curiosity overtakes next fear, and I shall continue through. Hope we meet again.
Hallway: I’ve just been informed that the main room is called the ‘foyer’ by the map. Duly noted. This hallway is also terrifying, just like something out of “The Shining”. Up to this point, Probing has revealed a few things: your relationship with your sister Sam is rife with envy: Carol mentioned it in the postcard, and you have two trophies in the foyer. Scoreboard reads Katie 2: Sam 0. Apart from this, this is a new house – I picked up on this when postcard read “weird” as it pointed to address. Also, what is a “dejeuner”? Things to note: your great uncle, Oscar, died, and we don’t know who is the person in the soldier photo – Desoto.
Dads office and room between it and hallway: Unfinished letter – someone must’ve left in a rush. Also, time travel and the assassination of JFK. Maybe this is a frightening joke or something. Seems very mad scientist-y. Dads office filled with books, I’d wager there’s a secret door somewhere here. Also looks like your dad almost got fired.
Crumpled note does not bode well. Uncle went ‘psycho’. Also, no-go on the secret door frontier. Disappointed. Entered the TV room – man, this place is freaking me out. Crouch allows you to see the novel ‘Ghosts and Poltergeists’ under a bunch of pillows. No bueno.
I chose this photo because I think it captures my main feelings throughout: one one hand, something feels incredibly wrong and scary. There are signs of haunting, or science fiction horror, and of family abandonment. On the other hand lies the serene answer; your family is not home right now, and this can all be explained by a simple misunderstanding. And in the middle is the light – the curiosity guiding you through it all.