Gone Home is a first person adventure style exploration game, that utilises the new media to focus on a strong narrative plot. A divergence from traditional video games despite the story being set in the 1990s, Gone Home remains very much at home with its new media platform, a distinctive crossbreed that utilises the best characteristic of its precedents as part of its narrativity, and interactivity.
The reader as an active and passive participant.
The reader in Gone Home takes on numerous roles. The viewer, reader, and participant: he participates, he is able to make choices on the paths he takes, but ultimately the guided voice narration of Sam’s journal helps to shape the entire experience. Subjective to his sequence of choices, the player can create his own version of narration. His participant is important, yet he remains a passive user, unable to change the gist of the whole story. It is in this interactivity however, that draws the player closer to the Sam’s story and guides the revealing of this story to conform to his likes and wants. There are multiple storylines, Sam getting to know Leona, or going to camp etc, clearly interlinked in this seemingly linear form of narrative – but ultimately, these multiple stories add layers of emotions to Sam and Kaitlin. Indeed, it helped to make the story more satisfying (on the emotional level) and engaging to me as a player.
Realism in Gone Home
Characteristic of the sophisticated graphics system of today, Gone Home employs a good amount of realism, to the extent of being photo-realistic in its works that helped to draw the players closer to the realistic possibility of the narration, and at the same time makes the story much more engaging. One interesting characteristic feature of the surrounding, clickable objects is that while it attempts to draw itself closer to the players, at the same time, the limitation of the narrative (that it is one-sided, and the ability of the player to feedback to it further beyond the given, voiced narrative almost nil) treads a thin line in terms of narrativity. However, the multitude and huge amount of information helps to negate this feature, whereby the player has to weed out the given information and indirectly feedback to the narrative itself.
Through fostering of active participation, while utilising realism in the visual narrative, Gone Home seemingly follows a linear narration, yet a certain fragmentation of narratives via the sequence of choices differs it from the traditional video game. It is a breakthrough against traditional video games, yet remains the medium of a traditional story, with some semblance of realism.