As I wrapped up Gone Home, I thought to myself, how did a three hour game manage to pack a ride range of emotions in such a short package?
I think it starts with the characters. The game is able to develop and establish strong characters based off your interaction. It’s up to the player, Kaitlin, to discover where everyone is at. Because the story is told through journal entries, notes, voice memos, and other things, it’s unique in the way characters are developed.
Kaitlin’s sister, Samantha, is also missing. A note is left on the front door begging Kaitlin not to go searching for answers of Sam’s disappearance. Throughout the game, it is found out that Sam has developed a relationship with another girl named Lonnie. I think Sam sort of fills the description of Jenkins’ description of both “girl space” and “boy space”.
Jenkins’ describes “boy space” as a place of adventure, risk taking, and no place to seek cover. “Girl space” holds secrets, romance, and sacrifice.
Sam is finding out who she is. She doesn’t fit the mold of what a girl should be, especially in a video game. She loves Nintendo, plays Street Fighter, yet never had a friend besides Daniel. She sees Lonnie and instantly get’s her attention. They begin to hangout and eventually form a relationship and run off together.
Sam starts getting into trouble at school, (as seen in one of the notes that is found in the house), attends concerts in the city with Lonnie. Her parents get in denial that Sam is gay and brush this off as a “phase”.
Sam is going on her own adventure with Lonnie, essentially taking a huge risk since she is in her senior year of high school. That would fit into the boy space. And she is making a sacrifice by dropping her life in Oregon and running away. And she is also willing to not see her sister for a last time.
The fact that the story told almost organically through these methods provides a certain depth that is almost isn’t even seen in most games. The fact that their parents are seemingly having their own problems. Their father is having troubles with his writing career, and Kaitlin finds a brochure for couples therapy retreat that is on the same weekend as their anniversary.
It seems kinda ironic that the house they lived in was inherited from their uncle who had mental problems, who for everyone who currently lives there to have their own problems. Except for Kaitlin of course.
Sam truly thought the best thing she could do for herself was to get away with Lonnie. And Lonnie was taking the same risk by changing her mind.