On Friday, February 9th, GAP (the Gaming Archives Project) had its first playthrough event of the semester. We played Gone Home, a single player walking simulator game, all the way through from start to finish. Gone Home is told through the perspective of Katie, who just got back from being abroad and comes home to a deserted house, her family nowhere to be found. Set in the 90’s, before cellphones, Katie must search around the house for clues and read letters from her sister to find out where they are and what happened while she was gone.
Only one controller was in use during our playthrough as it is a single player game, but our player often read the notes and messages aloud for the entire room as Katie picked them up, and took input from others on where in the house we wanted to explore. Though only one person had the controls, it felt like a collective interactive experience, a bit like watching a film unfold in front of you, but having agency in what and how things happen.
After finishing the game, there was a brief discussion about our thoughts on the design and the narrative. We talked about how the setting leads us to believe it is a horror game since it is set in an enormous mansion during a thunderstorm, and we have to turn on the lights as we enter each new dark and spooky room. For this reason, it was fun to play in a group rather than alone. We also compared it to What Remains of Edith Finch, a similar game that has more interactive minigames as the player advances through the narrative. Some people liked this better than Gone Home, which is strictly narrative without any flashback to the past or cut to the the events Katie’s sister describes in her letters.
There will be a playthrough every other Friday in the KnowledgeLab and everyone is welcome to join us in playing or watching. If you have a suggestion of a game for the next playthrough or to play on your own, email Joce at firstname.lastname@example.org. The gaming laptop is free to use whenever the KnowledgeLab is open, and new VR games can be played during Joce’s hours there: Tuesdays and Thursdays after 12:00pm and Fridays after 1:00pm.