S.EXE: Gone Home

gross GROSS

Quentin Tarantino has a monologue about Top Gun in the little-known Hollywood metamovie Sleep With Me. In it, Tarantino discusses in his typical teenage terminology how Top Gun, as well as being a romantic Cold War macho-off, is a film about the main character coming to terms with his own homosexuality. Tarantino names this subtextual narrative ‘fucking great’ and ‘subversive’. But it would probably have been much more subversive had it actually been text and not subtext. In game terms, that narrative probably would have been The Fullbright Company’s Gone Home. Yeah I said it. Gone Home is a more explicit Top Gun.


Well, that’s a bit of an extraordinary claim. You can forgive me for wanting to bust through the door drunk, nudge a bystander and declare ‘YOU KNOW, GONE HOME IS THE TOP GUN OF VIDEO GAMES’, and then proceed to grandstand and pontificate about the State Of The Industry, because, well, what douchey game critic wouldn’t want to do that? What game critic wouldn’t want to slur their opinions whilst connecting two pop culture icons to each other, understanding that tomorrow this won’t all make sense? It’s the joy of our gif-patched world, our Youtube-collaged, multicoloured, icon-studded existence to compare one medium’s icon to another to see what shows up in the kaleidoscope.

Gone Home has more subtlety than Top Gun, and no smirking Val Kilmer, just a smirking family portrait. And no one talks about riding anyone’s tail (or even being anyone’s wingman). Maybe you could get DLC Tim Robbins. But the largely ultra-conservative big budget first person game genre is comparable to the ultra-conservative big budget action movie genre. They both love gun violence, the spatter of blood across a carefully-textured wall, the big gestures, the shouts and gesticulating and loud noises. And I love all those goddamn things. I love Top Gun with a sweaty up-all-night passion.

I feel the need. The need for TEEN GIRL MAKEOUTS

But The Fullbright Company, a company whose co-founders possess the old school AAA machine-gun pedigree, removed those guns and put in a narrative that is explicitly about self-acceptance and self-discovery. Gone Home is about inner lives. It is about coming to terms with your own role, and your role in other people’s happiness. It is about belonging, just like Top Gun is in a sort of schlocky, silly way. Both are about coming to terms with who you are, and who you love, only Gone Home thought that trying to tie that around shooty-bang might be less interesting than realising the profundity of suburban lives.

Gone Home felt like a game bigger than me. The room was crowded with other critics who were sitting around pontificating whether a queer girl’s coming-of-age story was the thing that was being praised because it hadn’t been approached in this way by a game before. Ian Bogost complained that he was not impressed enough by the underwritten ‘young adult’ narrative, citing Woolf’s Orlando as the bar, and Merritt Kopas, whom I interviewed earlier in this series, said that a story about queer girls in love in video games, in this manner, was notable because it was exceptional.

This is all true. There are ways in which Gone Home’s narrative is simplistic, not literary enough: the leaving of notes around the house is gaudily contrived (just like the audio logs in Bioshock) and the house feels hollow and empty in ways that after re-examination can feel jarringly spartan. On Twitter we used to joke about the sheer number of 3-ring binders in the house, and whether the Greenbriar family had a penchant for filing.

Having spoken to the developers several times throughout the development process I know the reasons for this, but that doesn’t change the criticisms. It’s a game that has suffered not from the lack of vision on the developers’ part, but from the actual spartan landscape of storytelling in 3D games currently – it’s hard to make a game that traverses unexplored territory. When you set out, no one believes you can do it, and there’s no proof that it can be done, and consequently, there’s no budget for explorers who don’t even know if they’re coming back. Making any game these days is hard: making one that comes out on time and on budget is even harder. For Fullbright they left big budget games with some savings in a pocket and kicked that gamedevmobile into overdrive so they could survive another day. But you try to do all that without compromising your creative vision, and I think they succeeded. They did well enough. They made something actually new. I think they made what they set out to make and I admire it.

Now that I have some distance on the game, I can reappraise it. I still find it wonderful and surprising. The game not only brought me gently in to explore familiar teenage territory, but it also ended up saying something to me about the state of games, the state of where and who we are. It examines belonging and the relationships between women with the most subtle of tricks.

Want your high love and emotion


I never liked other girls, growing up. I was a misogynist. We all were.

The girls were the cruelest. Where boys would do something as simple as call you ugly, unfuckable or just threaten physical violence, the girls could enact sustained, planned psychological warfare on you. This was longer and more agonising. Where boys had short attention spans and would forget any beef with you the next day, girlfeuds would never end in apology and would never melt away. Girls would whisper spitefully to each other when they knew you were looking. They would steal homework from your bag and copy your best ideas, so it looked like you had plagiarised it from them, and you would be punished for it.

They would grab your most prized possession and file it down in technical class and put it neatly back in your bag. They would choose fine details of your face and personality to deconstruct and make nicknames up for you comprised of these painful details you knew were ugly. They would deliberately make it known that you were not invited to things. They would point out that you had never been kissed and never would be. They would tell you that you would die a virgin. They would tell you that they are glad that you have no boyfriend and the reason that you have no boyfriend is that no one wants you, and no one ever will.

This is when the boys would join in, dumbly copying, not yet socially smart enough to think of insults that were half as incisive, laceratingly hurtful. It was like being in a Saw movie, but the torture traps were made of passed notes, whispers, ugly half-caught thoughts from across-room stares, watching the cold hatred of someone you had never so much as wished ill towards brutally batter your inner self until you lay in bed every night with a wet face under the latest Pratchett novel. You were unaware that you could be admired, wanted, or loved by other women.

One girl picked up my notebook once, looked at a story I was writing (I think I was reading Anne Rice at the time so it was probably long, flowery sentences about aloof men I was yet to meet and fall in love with) and she scored it all out and wrote ‘GROSS’ on it, whereby another psychological terrorism campaign was probably launched. It took me eight years of constant secret writing after that to show anyone what I’d written ever again. I still write long, flowery sentences about men, only now people seek me out and pay me for the privilege of publishing them. If no one had ever acted this way towards me, I would have published stories at seventeen. If I’d had an ounce of confidence left by the time I left school, I’d have at least shown an adult something I had written.

All of these psychological tortures are tortures that society itself still enacts upon women as fully grown adults. The bullies become everyone – advertising, randos on the internet, and media especially – apart from the people who can see the Matrix, those who sometimes deign to make a kind effort to pull you out of it and show you the code. Once upon a time it was probably put in place by an accidental patriarchy, but now this machine just rumbles on by itself, and women as well as men enforce the idea that a woman’s appearance is fair game to constantly police, that her sexual status is incredibly important (Mrs vs Miss until Ms) to speculate on and ridicule her about, to use it to undermine her ability to be thought a professional at any stage. Some women are still trapped in the high school maliciousness of competition, so much so that they might always hate those women who are content with themselves.

I never liked girls growing up. I had a little brother and no sisters, my brother was my best friend, and the girls at school treated me with contempt. I wanted to be a boy, because everyone admired boys, and everyone let them do what they liked. I had to learn to inhabit my body and like it. I had to learn to forgive women. I had to learn to forgive myself for being born a woman.


Gone Home opens with a girl’s voice. You quickly come to understand that you are inhabiting Katie Greenbriar’s body, and from the note on the front door, you are home and your sister is missing.

You find the key and open the door, and as you start to rumble about the house, mouse-clicking to pick up things and investigate them to find out where everyone has gone, it becomes apparent to you that you are ‘putting back’ the objects you are looking at.

The ‘put back’ option in Gone Home is a function The Fullbright Company told me that they implemented, because early players said that they felt wrong dropping objects on the floor in the house. They said they wanted to put objects back where they found them.

Why? Because this is Katie’s own house. She is not an impostor. She is not an investigator. She belongs here. It’s her house.

Katie belongs in the house. She would put back the objects that she had picked up.

When I said before that Gone Home is about belonging, it is about belonging in many ways. In a way Sam belongs to the house, which is why you are searching for her. The objects in the house belong to the house, so you put them back. Katie belongs to the house, so she Goes Home.

Just hold on, we're goin' home

I never had a sister, and there never was a feeling, when I was a teenager, that any other girl could have moved me or made me sympathetic towards them. Girls didn’t like games, and I liked games. Therefore I was not like other girls. I was a better sort of girl. I was special to the nerd boys. I liked cool stuff. I liked Street Fighter II and I could beat everyone with Chun Li and boys whooped and cheered when I did it. They admired me. That’s who I was. That was my identity.

But Katie and Sam in Gone Home like each other. They are young women who like each other. Katie sends a silly postcard from Paris home; it is warm, funny.

Slowly you understand that Sam is falling in love with a girl called Lonnie. She talks about the intimacy of having another woman touch her hair when she is dying it. She writes about her uncertainties that Lonnie feels the same way as her. It is obvious, by the end of the game, that Sam is deeply in love with Lonnie, and that Lonnie returns her feelings.

And the thing about the young women that inhabit this house: they are just like I used to be, only they aren’t alone. There’s a whole essay Sam wrote about periods, the ovulation process, that is just an elaborate troll, a deliberate attempt to mess with the dry tone of science essays. Sam talks about going to see Pulp Fiction, the family has VHS tapes full of cult movies I used to watch. Sam talks about these things with Lonnie.

The characters go to see girl bands, the sort I never knew existed. Riot Grrl music populates the house in tape form: you put a tape into the tape player and Heavens To Betsy drifts through the house, glances off 3-ring binders.

Women’s voices are the only voices you hear in the Gone Home house. Isn’t that unusual? I mean yes, for a video game. But when is the last time you watched a film or saw a TV show where the only voices in it are women’s?

When I was growing up I never knew women could be in punk rock bands. I thought women were uncool. And I didn’t know about ‘sisterhood’. I disliked other girls. I didn’t trust them. But the Gone Home house feels safe. A space that exists in which women love and appreciate each other.

Sam trusts Katie. Notes are left to that effect all through the house. Sam likes Katie and is in love with Lonnie.

When it came to the end and Sam makes the decision to elope with Lonnie I felt relief and sadness. I cried a little, but it wasn’t because they were in love. It was because Sam knew who she was, and she was happy about it. Sam loves women, and teenage me did not. Sam never gave herself a reason to hate herself, and she never gave herself a reason to hate other women either.

In the Gone Home house, the only evidence of ‘patriarchy’ existing is in her stories about Allegra she leaves around the house, and the calls from the boy next door-type threatening to come over.

In a way this is the fantasy house I always wanted to inhabit. The Gone Home house is a place where it’s okay, maybe even normal, even cool, to be a girl.

Ian Bogost notices that this is written like a ‘young adult’ novel. But this is an almost utopian vision of sisterhood: this an adult vision of what teenage girldom was like in the 90s. It is still high fantasy, there are just less elves.

Gone Home offers me a girlhood I never had, and it recognises I am an adult woman who needs that fantasy too.

Is it possible that the Greenbriar’s house is just a museum of girlhood? Objects in the house demonstrate ways that girls are funny, silly, interesting. It displays a version of girlhood that people conveniently ignore because it is assumed it isn’t interesting. I walk through the Greenbriar house and I know that a version of the film Stand By Me would be possible with just girls.

I don’t think I’d ever seen a bottle of nail polish in a video game until Gone Home. I stared at it for a good five minutes when I saw it, wondering about all the open world environments I’d traversed, all the fancy worlds, all the adventure games I’d played where the elements of being a woman were strangely absent in the environment. I had the same experience looking at a discarded bra on the floor of a woman’s bedroom in Dishonored. I looked at that discarded bra shocked, and thought, yes. I’d leave my bra on the floor if I lived in this room. Someone who has seen this happen before made this game.

It is almost as if women are not invisible. They might be leaving a trail of their existence.

It’s strange because games were such boys’ territory, and because it seemed like it was boys’ territory I had to pretend to be one of the boys. Or to be the girl the boys thought I should be. I always had to try and ‘prove’ myself to them by listing my pedigree. ‘What was your first game’ or ‘what is your favourite game’ or ‘what is your top five’. It wasn’t until Tomb Raider that I started to understand: you are not a boy and you never can be treated like a boy.

Perhaps women can be characters in games. Perhaps they can be the only characters in some games.

I chose to do a module in my degree called 20th Century Feminist Fictions. I chose it primarily because I was on an English Literature major and this module included film: Thelma and Louise, and the Alien Quadrilogy. I was always the first person to try and find a shortcut at university. I liked getting drunk and playing video games with my male friends more than studying. Getting away with watching a film instead of reading more books or poetry seemed like a good idea. I wasn’t particularly enamoured with feminism (I liked Medieval Total War and pints. PINTS.) but if these great movies were feminism, well, I’d coast along with their weird ‘agenda’ just to watch them.

I left that module having read bell hooks and Adrienne Rich and Margaret Atwood. I watched a lot of Ridley Scott films. By the time I left that module, I liked women. I had argued constructively, amiably with other women. I had made friends with them. I wanted to be around women. I sought out more women. I understood why I hated myself. I understood why men acted the way they did towards me and I forgave them. I understood everything better. I was ready to have the relationship Katie and Sam have. I was ready to have sisters.

I finally felt like I belonged.

I was ready to be Top. Gun.


Sometimes I think of games as a space where I want to exist. Sometimes that space is hostile to you: Sometimes that space is the Call of Duty battlefield, sometimes that space is Super Hexagon’s eternal spinning shapes waiting to trap your cursor. Sometimes they’re the narrow corridors of the murky, suffocating, malicious Teleglitch.

Sometimes though, games are a space where you just… belong. Just hold on, we’re going home.


The previous S.EXE columns are here.

P.S. RPS co-founder ‘Kieron’ ‘Gillen’, who now writes these like, comics, for Marvel and Image, told me this week that a fan mocked up one of his comics into a dating sim interface. It’s real cute. (I really like The Wicked And The Divine by the way. It is sexy, like me.)

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  1. Hex says:

    Spoiler alert.

    • Premium User Badge

      keithzg says:

      Your creepy uncle is a spoiler alert.

    • tehfish says:

      I strongly suspect trolling, but on the off-chance it’s genuine, let me quote something from the article preview on the front page:


      • Hex says:

        I’m almost positive that wasn’t there when the article was published.

        Admittedly it was a silly comment. I’m not sure that the only options available to us are “fervently serious” or “trolling.”

  2. burben says:

    I love this article. I’m a 22 year old male and I’ll admit: I cried at the end of Gone Home for almost the same reasons you did. Although I was scared that there was a ghost in the house for a significant portion of it…

    • RedViv says:

      The ghost of the uncle is as real as any in our world.

      • benjaminlobato says:

        This is exactly right. The uncle is definitely haunting that house, just not in the way it’s usually done in video games.

      • pmcp says:

        I felt like the grandfather’s judgement was haunting much of the house too.

    • Donjo says:

      There must have been something in my eye during the finale that made my manly exterior appear less opaque. I played Gone Home again a couple of weeks ago and though it didn’t have the same effect it left me wishing there were more games like it, short slices of well crafted narrative to explore through with actual no foolin’ characters.

    • pmcp says:

      Thanks Cara, I really enjoyed this. I played it for the first time a couple of days ago and have been processing it since. What you said really echoed some of my feelings about it, albeit from a male perspective. There’s some real subtlety to some of those relationships, between Katie and Sam, Sam and Lonnie and the glimpses of her mother and her old college friend that I found really moving.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      Hell, I haven’t even played the game; I cried at the end of this article. It was beautifully written.

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      magnificent octopus says:

      I missed a bunch of stuff in the basement on my first play-through, because I was sure the ghost would jump out at me, and so I didn’t explore very much. I also refused to go back into the secret passage once the light went out.

  3. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Gone Home didn’t connect with me at all, or vice versa.

    Dear Esther saw me shed a tear at the end, however.

    • Xeshor says:

      I’ve felt a very strong emotional connection with Gone Home.

      I’ve had Dear Esther installed on my PC for almost a year now, and yet have to get past the first shore. I’ve read everywhere that it’s terrible, yet I’m a very big fan of those new “walking simulators” like Gone Home and The Stanley Parable (god that game has to be like my best game of 2014, ranking third ever close to Half-Life and Portal 2). Would you really say that it’s good if you play it in the right frame of mind ?

    • Archonsod says:

      There was a connection for me, but given I was a teenager in the mid nineties I suspect it was more nostalgia than anything else. I can see where the criticism of it’s writing came from – it feels a lot like the kind of “young adult fiction” we used to get given in English dealing with the mores of homosexuality, racism, religion et al. Just slightly ham-fisted.

    • wupto says:

      Yup, I thought the exact same thing. Really loved Dear Esther but didn’t have any connection with Gone Home. Didn’t like the atmosphere and the story was nothing special imo. The way of story telling was neat though but still a bit boring after 2 hours. I woul’ve probably liked the game better if there were any real secrets to find about her grandfather, like that he was a murderer or something

      • Kala says:

        No secrets to find…?
        You maybe missed why they have the house in the first place, why the fascination her father Terry has with the date and time travel in his fiction and the connection between him and his Uncle Oscar?

        Granted, it’s more heavily implied than outright stated. But I thought the subtlety of that particular brush-stroke was to it’s credit.

        I found this to be useful in outlining it: link to clockworkworlds.com

  4. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    great article! thank you, I skimmed over the spoilery parts but enjoyed reading your personal take on it

  5. Premium User Badge

    AugustSnow says:

    I got a little cold to Gone Home because of many of the “not enough” criticisms… This reminded me of why I loved it so much in the first place.

  6. Jenks says:

    S.EXE and Gone Home, and the comments are still open.

    I’m going to stick around to watch this unfold, I never get here before the magic happens.

    • gibb3h says:

      Literally the only reason I opened the article

    • RARARA says:

      I… honestly don’t see what’s there to be offended about here.

      Edit: Oh no, wait. I forgot about the people who think The Game Police is a serious Twitter account.

      • Jenks says:

        That’s exactly why I’m so intrigued. When RPS closes comments it deletes or hides all the existing comments, so I have no idea what goes on or why.

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      Ashrand says:

      Magic is above the comments Jenks.

      Unless you think they’re Mythical Trolls?

      • Jenks says:

        Somewhere above the comments is the reason that the comments get closed and deleted in most of the previous S.EXE articles? I don’t think so.

    • eggy toast says:

      I, also, noticed with surprise this combination, and therefore clicked through.

  7. pailhoarse says:

    It is almost as if women are not invisible. They might be leaving a trail of their existence.

    You’re frigging brilliant, Cara. Hands-down one of the best posts I’ve ever read about gaming, RPS or otherwise. Thank you for bringing so much of yourself to your writing.

    • RARARA says:

      While we are talking about women leaving a trail of their existence, here’s another interesting article by Cara about how the modern masculine-centric noir media never represents the burgeoning careers of women during and after the two world wars (when most men were conscripted). We end up wiping roles that women played, making the past look a lot less progressive than it was so that we can feel better about ourselves.

  8. instantcoffe says:

    Thank you, Cara.
    “I still write long, flowery sentences about men, only now people seek me out and pay me for the privilege of publishing them. If no one had ever acted this way towards me, I would have published stories at seventeen. If I’d had an ounce of confidence left by the time I left school, I’d have at least shown an adult something I had written.”
    This, a thousand fold.

  9. Matt_W says:

    This. This goes now into my pantheon of truly great pieces of games writing. Thank you, Cara for your bravery and beautiful ‘long flowery sentences.’ Gone Home makes me ache for the so-far mostly unrealized possibilities that gaming holds for empathy and experience and compassion and sadness and beauty.

  10. tigerfort says:

    Thank you, Cara.

    World: more of this, please. More “Gone Home”s, more women writing beautiful intelligent long flowery sentences, more people caring passionately about things – and other people – in a positive way.

  11. Peptidix says:

    Great piece. In addition to this main story I loved the sub-story of the development of the relationship between the parents as well. Slightly more hidden away as it was.

  12. Melody says:

    Despite having a very different past, I can relate with many of your experiences on a very deep level. Sometimes I feel like I’m still in the middle of them actually. (“If I’d had an ounce of confidence left by the time I left school, I’d have at least shown an adult something I had written”)
    Thank you for writing this.

  13. jomurph86 says:

    That was some beautiful writing.

  14. Viper50BMG says:

    Absolutely lovely writing, Cara, and, as many above have stated, one of the best pieces of game-related writing I’ve read in a longish while.

  15. RARARA says:

    Y’know, it’s a very different game if you go in expecting it to be a horror game.

    • ubik says:

      I played Gone Home based on RPS recommendations but without any spoilers whatsoever, so I too thought it was going to be a spooky/horror game just with a mid-90s setting and an unconventional play style. I thoroughly enjoyed the game for how it played with those exact expectations and for what it eventually turned out to be.

      Cool article Cara.

      • Reapy says:

        Right, as soon as I started seeing the hint drops about ghosts in the game I started getting paranoid I was playing some version of amnesia and every passageway and lighting strike kept me on edge as I crept around the house. I think I took an air of familiarity and comfort from the house and made the whole thing seem a bit hostile, waiting for things to jump out at me at any moment.

        I thought the game was great, especially with the layers of plot to pull back and discover as you play, but only 5 dollars good. If i had purchased for the original 20 i’d have been pretty upset with it to be honest.

        Anyway very nice article, and just so you know I have a lot of similar issues and feelings as yourself despite me being a man. I find that I grew up harboring the same dislike of other men for mostly the same reasons, I just don’t fit the bill as an alpha, stonewalled hard man that I’m supposed to be.

        My wife has gone through very similar things herself and I’ve talked for years with her about exactly what you talked about here, that she just folded into hanging out with guys because of the sometimes cruelty of female culture at one another. I know I couldn’t have made it through that.

        The world doesn’t really do a good job letting us be ourselves a lot of the time and it hurts lots of people for lots of reasons.

        • jezcentral says:

          It could have been the horror game a lot of us thought it was, if the final room had been different. Going round the corner of the attic was one of the take-a-deep-breath moments of my gaming life. Second to going into The Cradle.

          It’s a pity that the game is so easily spoiled. If it hadn’t have been, I think “I said ‘Yes'” would have been up there in the game-line pantheon with Gunter’s “I wanted orange” speech, “The cake is a lie” and (ironically) “Would you kindly”. But, of course, it wouldn’t have been the game it was.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Joshua says:

    Truly amazing, and oddly relatable

    Being subjected to several bullying campaigns because “You are weird” and the identity crisis that comes along with it is something I still feel the psychological effects of, even today, 6 years since they effectively ended. The damage done by such things is most likely pernament, but reading this, obviously it does not prevent one from achieving greatness.

    • thedosbox says:

      Yes, this was a lovely article and very relatable to anyone who’s felt excluded.

  17. PrehensileMoustache says:

    Phenomenal piece! I really like the idea of an introspective review, or even just a personal affect article relating to in-game experiences. There’s a depth and maturity to something like this that makes “super serious games journalism professional hmph hmph” seem shallow by comparison.

  18. Stompywitch says:

    Now this is the sort of thing that I come to RPS for.

  19. thaquoth says:

    This was probably the most wonderful thing I’ve read all week.

  20. Eight Rooks says:

    Fantastic article, Cara, as just about everyone’s said. Some brilliant writing here. I still agree with a lot of the criticism of Gone Home, but I did like it – a lot, I was practically paralysed with fear going up the stairs that last time – and it’s great to see another perspective on it I would never really have considered, let alone one expressed so well.

    Just one thing –

    I walk through the Greenbriar house and I know that a version of the film Stand By Me would be possible with just girls.

    …you’ve never read (or seen) Foxfire? (Or quite a lot of Joyce Carol Oates, come to that. Sounds like someone you might be into, if you’re not already.)

  21. aliksy says:

    This is a great article. Thanks for posting it.

  22. monkehhh says:

    Hi Cara, thanks! I bloody loved Gone Home. And “I love Top Gun with a sweaty up-all-night passion”. +1.

  23. Jalan says:

    There was nail polish in L.A. Noire. Granted for a few bits it was plot-related but other times it was just… there. Though that’s a bad example given the context but when I attempted to remember if there was ever a bottle of nail polish in Shenmue my mind just kept going back to sailors.

    Not sure why my mind fixated on that when there’s a lot more far relevant to interesting discussion in the article. I must be horribly broken.

    • yabonn says:

      It’s the crates.

      See all these crates, in all these games?

      Full of nail polish.

  24. tormeh says:

    Having been in the army, I can only inform you all that having only men spending 90+% of the time with each other you get a bit of homoeroticism. It’s not that anyone turns gay, it’s just that people have a need for intimacy and there’s only guys around, so you get bromances and wingmen and all that stuff.

  25. MistaJah says:

    Thanks for enabling comments. Though this is a great piece of writing, I feel like it was quite personal and more suited for a blog.

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      gritz says:

      A blog, you say??

    • videogone says:

      1: It’s not like personal writing is anything new for RPS. Have you ever read any of the Gaming Made Me articles? Or, indeed, Alec’s article on Gone Home? Unashamedly personal and personality-driven writing is a longstanding feature of the site, and my favourite thing about it.

      2: Maybe I’m nitpicking here, but I’m pretty sure RPS is a blog.

    • Martel says:

      Another great one Cara, thank you.

  26. w0bbl3r says:

    All this bullshit “subtext” nonsense about top gun really annoys me.
    I was around 17 or so when the movie came out; I was pretty much it’s target audience.
    Now, when you go to the cinema, or get a DVD, and watch these shloppy poppy happy crappy “rom-com” movies with your girlfriend, they always put in at least one scene where the hot girl is in her underwear, right? This is, we assume, as some way to give the bored boyfriends in the audience at least a bit of something to look at while the boring movie is playing, right?
    Well, if top gun is about gay men, then rom-coms are about gay women.
    Bear with me; They put in lots of scenes of good looking guys with their shirts off, playing volleyball and what-have-you, for the girls, dragged to the movie with their boyfriends. So the girls would have something to look at. Tom Cruise was the hottest guy around at the time, and girls would actually go to watch his movies just hoping they would see him without clothing.
    If this means the character is gay, then doesn’t it just make sense that when a rom-com or other girly movie does it for the guys in the audience, it means that movie is about gay women?
    I mean for one thing, does anyone think the makers of top gun were anywhere near deep enough to put in such subliminal meaning into their movie?
    No, it’s an action movie with good looking guys doing cool things, looking cool.
    It was the 80’s after all, when vanity was almost as bad as it is now (but in a better way, without all the surgery and disgustingly ugly women posing as “sex symbols”, like beyonce and lad-y GAG-a).
    Top gun had nothing to do with homosexuality. The guy fell in love with the girl and they ended the movie with them together. The other guy was married. And they were all womanisers, frequenting the bar where the pilot-loving women hung out.
    Nothing at all to do with homosexuality. Why do people have to see things that aren’t there?

  27. w0bbl3r says:

    And I like how Tarantino, in his typically stupid way, admits here that he believe that gay people choose whether they are gay or not.
    “come to the gay way”, “come to the hetero way”. Like a gay person has a choice, right?
    So how could that mean anything homosexual? Unless the writers were really stupid, of course.
    So, are the writers of top gun intelligent enough to write in this gay subtext, or is Tarantino stupid in general? I saw kill bill. I saw Jackie Brown. I saw death proof. Tarantino is an idiot, talentless hack who managed to make one good movie (pulp fiction), one half decent movie (res dogs), and ride the hype for 20 years afterwards. Then live off the talent of R. Rodriguez.

  28. Crowleyy says:

    Thanks Cara, one of the best gaming related articles I’ve read in some time.

  29. Juan Carlo says:

    “Tarantino names this subtextual narrative ‘fucking great’ and ‘subversive’. But it would probably have been much more subversive had it actually been text and not subtext.”

    Great article, but I disagree with this point.

    You have to consider the culture and times within which the film was released. In the super homophobic, right wing, climate of the 1980s, no one would have seen “Top Gun” if the gay subtext was text. That’s what makes it subversive. It’s a Trojan horse of a film. Macho 1980s dude bros went and saw the film in droves, not really aware that they were being exposed to some super homoerotic stuff going on under the surface.

    Had the film been overtly gay, it wouldn’t have been subversive. In the climate of the 1980s, it would have just been a niche film that no one other than gays and supporters of gay rights would have bothered seeing. In other words, just preaching to the choir. I think for something to be truly subversive it needs to have that covert element to it–I.E. the subtext working stealthily under the surface to undermine the text in some way.

    • JarinArenos says:

      I wonder if Tom Cruise knew about the subtext when the movie was filming. It’s subtle as all hell. I’d never even heard the theory.

      … though in retrospect, “Playin’ With the Boys” is pretty obvious.

      • Gog Magog says:

        … but Tom Cruise made Interview with the Vampire not long after, also to great mainstream success, and that one is a love story between two men.
        Admittedly, that “not long after” is right in the middle of the 90s.

    • Shadow says:

      Well, while it’s true a homosexual subtext can be interpreted in Top Gun, it’s nothing quite as overt as Tarantino describes. I mean, firstly, the “ride my tail” scene doesn’t actually have those lines: Iceman says, “You can be my wingman anytime,” to which Maverick responds, “Bullshit, you can be mine.” And secondly, that’s not the final scene of the movie: the closing one depicts Charlie meeting Mav at the bar and (almost) kissing.

      Yes, the wingman scene has plenty of bromance, but nothing nearly as explicit as what Tarantino points out, and with it not being the final scene, it can’t be interpreted Maverick ‘abandoned’ Charlie for Iceman and the “gay way”. Yes, Charlie is normally a male nickname (even if in this case it stands for Charlotte) and she sometimes dresses in a guy-ish fashion, but… there’s nothing terribly overt.

      BONUS: Tarantino’s description of the love scene between Maverick and Charlie is also completely off: they very obviously have sex, and while Mav isn’t there the next morning, he leaves her a flower and a note, which makes her smile when she reads it.

      So yeah, TL;DR, there’s a subtle subtext maybe, but Tarantino overdid it to an extreme.

      Wingman scene: link to youtube.com
      Final scene: link to youtube.com
      Love scene: link to youtube.com

    • horsemedic says:

      I truly doubt there’s meant to be any homosexual subtext in Top Gun. The “ride my tail” quote in Tarantino’s monologue is made up. Those words are never spoken in the film. So the only true evidence Tarantino offers is a single character’s boyish wardrobe in a single scene.

      Top Gun seems a little gay because 1980s pop culture was a little gay. But there’s no evidence anyone at the time was aware.

      • Shadow says:

        Yeah, I had left a comment here about the falseness of Tarantino’s speech, but it got stuck “awaiting for moderation”. Here it is, without the YouTube links to the various scenes mentioned which might’ve triggered the spam filter:

        Well, while it’s true a homosexual subtext can be interpreted in Top Gun, it’s nothing quite as overt as Tarantino describes. I mean, firstly, the “ride my tail” scene doesn’t actually have those lines: Iceman says, “You can be my wingman anytime,” to which Maverick responds, “Bullshit, you can be mine.” And secondly, that’s not the final scene of the movie: the closing one depicts Charlie meeting Mav at the bar and them (almost) kissing.

        Yes, the wingman scene has plenty of bromance, but nothing nearly as explicit as what Tarantino points out, and with it not being the final scene, it can’t be interpreted Maverick ‘abandoned’ Charlie for Iceman and the “gay way”. Yes, Charlie is normally a male nickname (even if in this case it stands for Charlotte) and she sometimes dresses in a guy-ish fashion, but… there’s nothing terribly overt.

        BONUS: Tarantino’s description of the love scene between Maverick and Charlie is also completely off: they very obviously have sex, and while Mav isn’t there the next morning, he leaves her a flower and a note, which makes her smile when she reads it, naked under the sheets.

        So yeah, TL;DR, there’s a subtle subtext maybe, but Tarantino overdid it to an extreme.

  30. crusselrow says:

    That was an amazing article. I loved that game, but never really understood why. Thank you for your perspective.

  31. kissingtoast says:

    I really like this piece Cara.

    Gone Home is easily one of my favourite games (probably my favourite).

    “I cried a little, but it wasn’t because they were in love. It was because Sam knew who she was, and she was happy about it. Sam loves women, and teenage me did not.”

    I also cried at the end, and while my history isn’t the same as yours,
    the hope and happiness that I found in the attic made me cry in a way, I’m guessing,
    not totally dissimilar to yours.
    (I was expecting a really horrible ending for Sam, because of how our society currently is,
    and the hints of horror throughout Gone Home).

    “The Gone Home house is a place where it’s okay, maybe even normal, even cool, to be a girl.”

    I think that Gone Home is not only exceptional for being a great game, and a game with any substantial representation of women, but also for being a game that celebrates acceptance and self-acceptance in general.

    For me, Gone Home is a great demonstration of people living in a world which refuses to empower them, and instead take the power themselves.

    It was the first time I played a game that I felt compelled to write to the developer; thanking them.

    • Bolegium says:

      This is a great article. I had a similar response as you (and apparently many others) did.

      I wrote an embarrassingly personal thank you to the Fullbright team, the first time I’ve done so for any form of media as far as I can recall.

      I feel like all the excellent authors of all the excellent and personal articles about Gone Home deserve a big personal thank you.

      Thank you Cara.

      If anyone is interested, there’s a great compilation of stuff to read here: link to thiscageisworms.com, posted just after the game’s release last year.

  32. Niko says:

    Thanks, Cara, it’s amazing.

  33. Commander Gun says:

    I am especially emotional due to the fact that comments are enabled. Long live free speech on RPS!

  34. LTK says:

    Wow. That read like an emotional gut-punch. Thank you for writing this.

  35. Premium User Badge

    Cooper says:

    Dunno if you read these comments. But if you do then, please, if you can remember who they are, email the person who taught you on that feminism module, drop them this link and tell them what you got out of it. Doesn’t matter if it’s years later.

    I teach femnism to undergrads myself. Getting students to think more deeply, independently and to undertsand with more nuance is the whole reason we teach. When it goes well we get to see that in essays, but rarely do we get to see this affect their thoughts and lives more widely.

  36. Jason Moyer says:

    Gone Home is excellent for all of the reasons people have mentioned, but for me it gets massive bonus points for perfectly reflecting what being a teenager in early 90’s rural America was like. When the game came out I went through the usual new game routine of downloading it, installing it, setting up the video/sound/etc options, and testing it out to see how it ran before sticking it in my backlog. Except I ended up plowing through it in one sitting, which is rare for me even for a game of such short length.

    Also, I have more 3-ring binders than the Greenbriars have. Sadly, none of them are Trapper Keepers. I actually have 2 3-ring binders and 2 of those black/white composition books sitting on my computer desk at all times.

  37. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Amazing article!

    Also, I’m glad you found your confidence, so that now you can go and beat the russians we get to read your writing!

  38. Fnoros says:

    Such emotional responses to games or other media are, to me, kind of a two-edged sword. Fiction can be entertaining, it can expose one to new ideas, and it can create intense positive emotional connections with characters and themes and settings, but it can also highlight things that your life is desperately missing. For me, that something is camaraderie, or even just having a good friend or two. Throughout my life, I’ve never had a good friend. I at most had a group of people I kind of hung around as a barely tolerated outcast, but I’ve never felt a sense of group cohesion with anyone. I essentially missed out on the stereotypical American Childhood. So when I play games, or read books, or watch shows about tightly-knit groups, I feel a nearly unbearable emptiness, a complete alienation from the common tropes and popular culture of society. A game like Persona 4 can send me into a vicious cycle of self-pity and self-hatred, of disappointment with my life and shame that I could possibly be disappointed with the suburban life of relative luxury I am lucky enough to have. Sometimes I think, it’s too late for me to be the person I want to be. That person had a completely different origin story.

    • Geebs says:

      There’s really no point in hating yourself over somebody else’s wish fulfilment, you know? The people who wrote that stuff probably have all the same hang-ups you’re suffering from.

    • Gog Magog says:

      And that’s just the thing, innit. Accept me. What is there to accept. Crushing loneliness and heartache to make one pine for… well, you know. When I was younger I was full of hate for being pushed away but now I know it is the simple inevitability of being me. It doesn’t take a fatalist to know that it doesn’t even matter if you give up.


      I don’t think people sharing purely negatory and destructive experiences is ever gonna be appreciated. You can’t use that. Must be framed in some way that brings about hope and a message to take away and build upon because absolutely noone ever has had any time for this shit. The way of the transgressor and all that. Work for your keep or get the fuck out.

    • umuad says:

      I won’t tell you not to beat yourself up because its not my place and tbh that’s hard to do anyways, I know from experience, but to get a little Hallmark, every new day can be your origin story if you want.

  39. Rinox says:

    I know it wasn’t the point of the article, but dear lord, hearing about the level of psychological torture inflected by young girls on other girls never ceases to amaze me. As a boy growing up in a family of brothers I never really experienced any of this directly, but from time to time I am reminded by female friends or girlfriends how it is/was for them.

    Anyway, great article. Amazing stuff. Gone Home was a masterpiece, and this article definitely does it justice.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      The article was powerful. Too powerful.

      Not many things could make me think back to my own school times and think “Well, it could have been worse.”

      (Largely due to the effort I’ve expended in never thinking about them, which I will now resume.)

  40. wahoosjw says:

    I played Gone Home because a professor of Game Design at the college I would like to attend recommended it to me. I went having no idea what the game was about or what it involved. I quickly picked up one the horror tropes and had grandiose ideas about the horrible things that might or did happen in the house. The entire game I was expecting something supernatural to happen, but the story was personal and surprising. Going into the attic I fully expected to find Sam’s body in it. The end shocked me by not being horrifying or grotesque and I cried. This article is wonderful and sums up nearly all of what Gone Home meant to me. I also found the storyline of the Dad and Grandfather very interesting with the unnatural obsession with JFK hinting at abuse.

  41. oceanclub says:

    Great article, Cara. I really loved GH: the dread feeling of exploring that house; how what you think might be standard horror gives way to a more subtle form; how the story of the mother’s romance and father’s failures unfold and of course the central romance.

  42. Premium User Badge

    keithzg says:

    After reading this article I almost want to actually play Gone Home finally.

    I honestly can’t even quite articulate why it doesn’t interest me, but I keep sliding off any idea of playing it. I’m really glad it’s inspired writing like this article, so I’m definitely a fan of its existence, and I love attempts at verisimilitude in games, but . . . I dunno, somehow the conceit just doesn’t inspire me to play it.

  43. Harrington says:

    Gosh, that was really, really lovely. Also, I hope that the relatively decent comments left here leads to the S.EXE comment sections being open in the future; they’re generally the kind of pieces that I want to comment on most, though this week’s version has pretty well covered any comment I might have had and expressed it far better than I ever would have. Wonderful stuff.

  44. Pantsman says:

    Best S.EXE yet. Really great. Thanks Cara.

    (But hey, I’ve been waiting for an open comments section to ask: when is V:TM:B part 2 coming?)

  45. icarussc says:

    Detailed spoilers below!

    I just played Gone Home yesterday, and lo and behold! This article. It was a lovely, compelling game, wasn’t it? I loved it. I’m a man with four sisters, a wife, and a young daughter, and I teach at a (nearly) all-girls’ school for nurses. Since my daughter was born a few years ago, I started reading broadly feminist literature here and there (Handmaid’s Tale, Reviving Ophelia, The Body Project, stuff like that) to try and figure out what my daughter would have to deal with and how I could help her.

    What you wrote about the experience of girls is just what I want to understand and shepherd my little girl through, to the extent that anyone can. And it’s certainly on display in the game, in the relationships between Sam and Katie, Sam and Lonnie, and Sam and her parents. I feel like you really put your finger on what makes this game powerful. It’s about Sam making her choices, finding the kind of acceptance and love that she craves, and about discovering those things (in some ways) as she does, through the artifacts of her life. It made me wonder about the uncle, whose character (whether or not he was a homosexual) clearly stands in contrast to the belonging that Sam found. Sam’s parents do the same, as the mother rejects the possibility of closeness to her coworker to try and find it with her husband. Can she? That open question was nearly as poignant to me as the story of Sam herself.

    I may be alone in finding this story beautiful and sad in part because I think that Sam and Lonnie made the wrong choice. Obviously, the developers would disagree. I would imagine that you, Cara, and virtually everyone reading this article would, too. In choosing one another, they took something that wasn’t theirs to take. As we all so naturally do, they made their own feelings of happiness their highest aim. It’s Guinevere and Lancelot again … for that matter, it’s Adam and Eve again. It may feel so right, but feeling it doesn’t make it so.

    • wahoosjw says:

      I agree with the point your making after thinking about the ending I realized what pain Sam must have caused her family Kate especially because they seemed very close, it wasn’t the fact of their relationship that I thought was the wrong choice though, just the fact that they put it in front of all their other relationships and harmed others by doing so.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      In choosing one another, they took something that wasn’t theirs to take.

      How’d you mean?

      • icarussc says:

        I mean that Sam and Lonnie (and everyone else in the story) are not moral free agents who can adopt any sexual identity that they find personally comfortable. They, like the rest of us, were created in the image of God. The mother faces the choice of whether or not to reject her husband in favor of her co-worker. The father faces the choice of whether or not to reject his wife in favor of pornography. And Sam faces the choice of whether or not to reject heterosexual relationships in favor of one another. But in each case, such a choice takes more liberty than is permitted to a human being. They are not permitted to reject the design of God for goals of their own. In rejecting it, they are violating not some arbitrary human social construct, but the essence of humanity as made to reflect God. That’s something to be sad about, despite the beauty of their friendship.

        • Premium User Badge

          bonuswavepilot says:

          Well… there is a take I hadn’t heard on it, at least.

          Is there anything new testament that actually takes a specific stand on this stuff? My shaky understanding of Christianity (had to go to church until I was confirmed, after which it was my call, and I never went back again) is that most of the anti-gay stuff is in the old-school bits like Leviticus, but I believe Leviticus has a lot of stuff in it which is, no offense, pretty crazy to a modern reader (like not mixing fabrics in your clothes, and slavery being A-OK…

          • icarussc says:

            I don’t have time for a full response right now, but yes, certainly it does. Sexual morality is often wrongly seen as being at the center of Christianity — it’s not — but Jesus and his apostles speak directly to it in the New Testament. Two of the touchstone passages on that would be Matthew 5:27-30, where Jesus addresses the internal nature of sexual sin and its radical boundaries, and Romans 1, where Paul begins to set out acceptance with God through faith, not good works, by starting with the universal rebellion against God by his creation. Along the way, he briefly discusses rebellious sexuality. (I’d link to the passages, but I have to confess my total ignorance of HTML code). And again, this is what makes Sam’s story sad to me — she’s looking for salvation in Lonnie. She won’t find it there.

          • Premium User Badge

            bonuswavepilot says:

            Alternatively, Lonnie has a better shot than those seeking a ‘yes’ from the imaginary sky-father by aiming for earthly love… In any case, while I have been involved in discussions along these lines before I must say never with this degree of civility. Still, I think Harlander is probably right that this isn’t the best spot for theology

          • horsemedic says:


            You’d likely have more civil discussions about religion if you didn’t pointlessly mock the other person’s beliefs with jabs like “imaginary sky father.” It’s like expecting to have a fruitful political debate while employing terms like “libtard” or “wingnut.”

          • Premium User Badge

            bonuswavepilot says:

            Yeah, alright that’s a fair cop. WIthdrawn, with my apologies. (Though I will leave the original comment so as not to make the thread incomprehensible).

            I find with this stuff that the chip tends to reappear on my shoulder if I’m not careful – (some good friends whose already difficult situations were made all the more so by fundamental believers), but it was unfair to lump icarussc in with that crowd.

        • Premium User Badge

          Harlander says:

          Well, fair enough.

          I think irreconcilable axiom collisions will prevent any further interesting discussion on that point.

          • icarussc says:

            Axiom collisions aren’t irreconcilable! There’s always the possibility of a change of mind :-)

          • Premium User Badge

            Harlander says:

            Perhaps. I think there’s better places for such discussions than an an increasingly-narrow comment thread, though.

          • tremulant says:

            Axiom collisions aren’t irreconcilable! There’s always the possibility of a change of mind :-)
            So you come to this discussion prepared to denounce your religion, or at least your interpretation of its teachings on homosexuality, if a good enough argument is put forward, or does this change of mind only work in one direction and you’re hoping to convert people? I don’t think this is the place for such things either way, but I am curious about your intentions.

          • icarussc says:

            Actually, all I meant was that too often axiomatic conflicts are seen as an end to discussion. But since axioms differ, it’s important for each of us to examine our own, rather than reflexively reject those that oppose them. In other words, I think talking about axioms in conflict is very useful.

            But to answer your question, yes, certainly. Ironically, I’m led to this by the axiom in question: since God is a God of truth, finding and affirming the truth ought to be of paramount importance for Christians.

          • Bolegium says:

            “since God is a God of truth, finding and affirming the truth ought to be of paramount importance for Christians”

            This is why discussion with someone with such beliefs as your own is often seen as a pointless exercise. Circular reasoning, a priori claims, rejection of falsifiability or null hypotheses, there is very little common ground on which to discuss things.

            tremulant asked if you were “prepared to denounce your religion”. In your response it seems that the ultimate aim in your openness to debate is to reaffirm your belief in “truth”, which is defined by you as God, which you define as truth. I don’t see how that is conducive to constructive discussion, or evidence that you truly are willing to denounce your religion if you encounter a reasonable argument to do so.

            I think in such cases a philosophical change needs to occur before any discussion can begin, rather than after.

          • icarussc says:

            A priori or fundamental claims are hardly the exclusive purview of supernaturalist worldviews, which is what I assume you mean by “someone with such beliefs as your own.” Every comprehensive understanding of reality requires such axioms to stand on, including yours, whether it’s naturalism or something else. That’s the nature of human knowledge, not a weakness of Christianity or of supernaturalism in general.

            But I don’t think that leaves us without common ground. I’m was suggesting that the questions “What are your axioms?” and “How did you come to affirm them?” are valuable questions to ask one another.

            And since we’re being precise, I think it’s worth pointing out that I didn’t (and Christianity doesn’t) define truth as God, nor God as truth. God is in his nature true, and all truth is loved by him. Or, as it’s historically formulated, “All truth is God’s truth.” That’s a lovely place to start a constructive discussion, since it sets the terms of the debate very much in favor of discovering reality, not hiding from or denying it.

        • Pantsman says:

          I’m curious; at what point in your life did you reject your homosexual temptations in favour of heterosexual relationships you felt no inner desire for?

          Or did that not happen? Because if not, then not to be rude, but it would seem you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

          • icarussc says:

            No, that hasn’t been my battle to have. Each person has her own — a fact that comes out strikingly in the game, I think: the mother has the same sort of temptation with her distant husband and her friendly, attention-giving co-worker.

            We don’t each live in separate worlds, only able to speak with those who face the same idiosyncratic struggles that we do. Rather, you and I and everyone actually share one identical choice: to say yes to God, or to say no. That choice will take different forms for different people. For Sam, part of it is about what kind of sexuality she’ll embrace. Certainly, Sam and her family aren’t viewing it in religious terms, despite the smattering of Christian stuff in the house. I just mean that Sam thinks saying yes to Lonnie will bring her true fulfillment (hence, “I said yes”). But in doing so, she can’t help saying no to God. And that can’t bring her true fulfillment. Nothing short of God really can.

    • Donjo says:

      Edit: wrong thread!

  46. lfwam says:

    I read this on my couch, on my phone, just after waking up. Did not expect something so visceral, so painful, this close to sleeping. Astonishing, brilliant piece of writing, with the stark awfulness that only comes from things which are so clearly true. Thank you.

  47. Sweetz says:

    Good article, but there’s one kind of nitpicky thing I want to talk about and that the section where you talk about nail polish as is if lack of presence in other games is notable or pertinent towards the ongoing discussion about games being male focused. Here’s the thing, in how many games would the presence of nail polish be contextually appropriate? How many games have settings as mundane as a contemporary suburban home? How many games dedicate more than a flat texture, if anything at all, to depicting incidental toiletries?

    What is it about the majority of fantastical game environments that you them feel lacking in the presence of women, but not men? I mean it’s not as though often see, say, shaving cream or men’s cologne or other “male specific items” depicted often in games either. It’s almost as though you’re saying that the relatively generic historic, industrial, or bombed out settings most games is “manly” by default and only the presence of “girly” things makes a game world seem like women are present in it. Isn’t that just reinforcing stereotypes and sexism?

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      Lots and lots of games have you entering people’s houses – it would be really appropriate in a game like… Fallout, for example. Or just… any game which lets you enter a house were people live.

      And to point your second point: Fallout the third does have razors and stuff like that.

      • Archonsod says:

        Yeah, but how good is something like Fallout at showing *anyone* actually lives in a space? Normally personal accoutrements tend to be represented by generic clutter – for example a collection of unidentifiable coloured bottles in the bathroom to suggest it’s used by someone. Unless the items happen to be related to the game mechanisms (clothing and food for example) it’s rare it will appear outside of the clutter; whether it’s nail polish or aftershave.
        I mean, I can’t think of many games off the top of my head where the design of any living area ‘makes sense’ (just think how many of Fallout’s residents appear to keep food in their bedroom drawer for example) in terms of suggesting someone lives there.

        • Gog Magog says:

          the bedroom drawer is where I always put grilled chicken when I’m too lazy to break down and rebuild a wall

    • umuad says:

      To your last question, to me that kinda of seems like asking about someone who is drowning about being wet. We exist in all of the context of society around us, not just what we can see. In video games (and, largely, society in general) “maleness” is a baseline. It’s like a default setting until something marks it as an “Other”.

      You know, pink colouring, ribbons or bowties, giving Samus fucking heels (why, y’all, why). Nail polish and slap bracelets are socially coded as feminine. Yes, that is sexist, I had a dozen slap bracelets as a dude in the 90s and I paint my nails with my kids now at 31, but it kind of proves Cara’s point about how the Greenbriar house is a uniquely female space in relation to most other video games, because those signifiers, while stereotypical, specifically relay ” womaness”.

      • webs1 says:

        I don’t think that these details specifically relay womanness but rather a feeling of authenticity, of someone really living there, something that’s absent from most other first person perspective games.
        I grew up being a boy in 90s Germany, and still felt very much reminded of my teenage years exploring the house and especially Sam’s room.

        That is actually part of the reason I am seldom able to really enjoy Cara’s articles: the feminist spin on everything leads to assumptions that, to me, feel like generalisations that are just not correct.

      • Kala says:

        depends how often they’re used. pink bow-ties are often used to signify ‘female’ so that signifier is a stereotype.
        nail polish, isn’t, to my mind – while it would be a generalisation to assume all women or only women used it, of course. but it seems like general clutter. if you had a bathroom that contained nail polish, hair removal cream and tampons, for example, I wouldn’t consider them stereotypical signifiers, but I would assume that women live there.

        (which could well be a faulty assumption).

  48. pfooti says:

    Lovely article, well written. Thank you.

  49. Rufust Firefly says:

    Loved this article so much. I had other plans for this weekend, but maybe I can squeeze in a replay of Gone Home as well… Totally inspired to.

    Plus, it has the most well-realized refrigerator in the history of gaming.

  50. Archer666 says:

    GH always seemed like a pretentious piece of garbage to me. Guess I’ll have to give it a spin myself to see why people praise as much as they do.