Gone Home is just one of those games.
I really just don’t know how to put exactly how much this game resonated with me into words, but I’ll try. I will begin this by warning you that this article will contain serious and extensive spoilers, so if you don’t wish to know anything about the game, a mentality I highly recommend for playing Gone Home, then please stop reading here.
Now, to give you a little background about myself, I too have a gay sibling, and though he is older than me and I didn’t run off to Europe for a year, putting myself in the shoes of Kaitlin was not at all difficult for me. I too had a moment where it was time for me to learn my sibling’s secret, and I was also a child of the ‘90s, making everything just more personal. The tales that Sam discusses in her audio logs, in certain cases, were almost exactly like stories I myself heard from my brother when he finally decided to tell me he was gay.
For me, Gone Home wasn’t resonating because I was relating to Sam and her story of self-discovery; though, I could easily see that happening for many players. My journey was not only through the eyes of Kaitlin, but as her.
Even though Kaitlin doesn’t really say much through the story, being in her position, and pulling from my own personal experience, I really connected to her. Now I know this experience is limited to people who related in the same way I did, but I think it’s a side of the story that should be reflected upon as well.
Did Kaitlin accurately portray someone who just discovered her sister is gay? Well, I don’t think we’ll ever really know, since that’s so subjective, but for me she did.
How does one react to a situation like that, especially put in a position where you’ve been away, and when you get back, you don’t even have the chance to say goodbye to this person.
Gone Home tells us so much about Sam without even allowing us to interact with her directly, but that doesn’t change the real connection the player feels with her. From a dysfunctional family to a creepy house, each little iteration of the goofy stories nuanced by the serious family drama brings Sam closer and closer into your heart. When I went up into the attic at the end of the game, I knew what I was going to get. Still, it broke my heart learn I was truly alone in the big empty house, and the illusion that I’d turn a corner and see a figure waiting for me at any point in the game was broken.