The lights are on
Power Member - Level 10
"Back to childhood revelry, back to days carefree of gods and destiny, back to forests of green and seas of blue, back to when I met you..."
I am not reviewing
"Gone Home" because I am a terrible person. I know I am a terrible person, for
when I saw the picture of the development team, with its dreadlocked
twenty-something white male fellow and his fellow hipster-elite buddies, each
with a carefully packaged persona like the characters out of Zooey Deschanel movie, I decided not to play
I decided to not play
their little meta-game.
Videogames, it is
argued by some, ostensibly those who developed "Gone Home", are not about enjoyment
anymore. They are no longer about fun. They
are about emotions. About feeling.
"So videogames have
evolved. They are a legitimate art form now! You monster, what is wrong with
No, strange person
whose voice only I can hear. Even should
games truly be a new art form, what do the hipster-elite know about art?
Nothing. They do not know about art, they only know about feeling. Art can evoke feeling, but art is not merely feeling. And
what feelings can these hipster-elite twenty-somethings evoke?
Ah, of course.
Every review and
preview of "Gone Home" remarks upon the evocation of nostalgia that is the purpose
and "strength" of the game. "The game isn't about blowing up hell-beasts or
saving the princess! (We would never be so gauche or sexist).This game, this art,
is about feeling, about being," proclaim the game-makers and their media and
gamer allies, who more often than not are of the same demographic of the game
developers and the characters of the game (go figure....).
Yet.....what, then, is
the purpose of the game?
Those low-brow, those
jejune, those annoyingly stupidly fun games,
with their slaying of the hell-beasts and rescuing of the princess, they have a
goal, and a narrative (of course, not as gripping as games about awkward
teenage girls listening to whiny, depressing music as they get laid and commiserate
about their parents and seek out "like, who AM I?" , all in a comfortable middle-to-middle-upper-class
life which allows for such bourgeois indulgences, because apparently raging
against the machine doesn't involve ever being more than just another gear in it.
Oooh, maybe she'll have a beer and write in her journal about phony
mainstream society!), yet......if "Gone Home" merely serves to be a mirror to a
particular, narrow sub-culture in a particular narrow range of socio-economic status from a particular narrow "era" of American history,
what does the game, and the audience playing the game, and the developers of
the game, accomplish?
In other games, I can
In "Gone Home", I can
view a product which itself never becomes more than the product of the material
culture it seeks to critique, view the memories of the developers and the
target audience of the game which never imparts meaning beyond the evocation of
nostalgia, a cheap thrill like downing a pack of Pixies Styx (oh, but surely
the balding rockers weeping during "Lady" are utterly disparate from those
world-wounded souls who feel what
Frank Black screams, even if they have to turn the volume down in the Volvo
because the gated community has a sound ordinance).
The works of Balzac, Proust, Henry James, et al, focused
upon the gentry and nobility of a particular era (each respective to the era
the particular writer chose). However the difference (to understate greatly)
between "Gone Home" and the works of Proust, James, et al, is that
there is no "nobility" for the socio-economic / socio-cultural case
study that is "Gone Home." There is no moral imperative in
understanding Grunge music, or the Riot Grrl scene, of cheap pizza and late
nights taping the X-Files, of the minutiae of suburban life in America in the
1990s. There is no purpose to either the nostalgia evoked by the sundry list of
privileged paraphernalia the audience seeks out or to the stories of the
Greenbriar family and their struggles and defeats.
It is the mistake literature made when it heralded the works
of Updike and Sinclair Lewis, but the latter can be afforded the liberty of
satire: "Gone Home" has no such liberty. If it is to be lauded, let it be for being a
good simulation of the anxieties and petty rituals of the liberal elite in a
particular period of America; like
Updike, "Gone Home" creates a world where one only has to inquire,
"So what" (or, "Why am I not having fun?"), so as to destroy the universe within the work entirely.
So it is no surprise
that "Gone Home", and those who espouse the design philosophy of it and similar
games, do not like games that are fun.
Circle jerks are fun, I
suppose, but not for those outside-looking in, and they certainly in their sage
profundity seek to be all-inclusive, for certainly those are the only games
that are acceptable.
Or, at least, the only
ones having any meaning.
You feel me?