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Why ‘Gone Home’ Is a Game

Why Gone Home is a Game
Why Gone Home is a Game


Community Comments

Latest comments (18 total)

I’m sorry, but things like “interactivity”, “playfulness”, and “different people having a different experience” are not the elements usually cited as the defining features of a game. Instead, you’re looking for things like rules, limitations/obstacles, feedback, and a defined goal. And while you could probably twist various elements of Gone Home into those shapes (“The goal is exploration!”), it just doesn’t fit.

We call Gone Home a video game because there isn’t a set alternative genre for it. It’s a virtual experience, a visual novel, a ‘walking simulator’—whatever. It’s not a game, though it certainly pays homage to traditional adventure game elements. And that isn’t some kind of moral judgement. The fact that it isn’t a game does not somehow make it inferior. I found it to be interesting and engaging, if flawed.

We should be excited about all the different kinds of experiences possible thanks to interactive digital media. Trying to pigeonhole each and every one of them as a ‘video game’ is doing them a disservice.

Aug 14, 2014

Inventory, Puzzles, and Play Time are not required to be ‘a game’. You might not care for the lack of these things, but that doesn’t redefine a thing’s media designation.

You could say Gone Home is a type of Visual Novel. But its STILL A GAME.

And you can beat Myst very quickly if you know the combination for the final page and the fireplace door. You don’t need to do anything else in the game to get the ‘correct’ ending to trigger it.

Jul 16, 2014

Gone Home lacks features that are iconic to most Adventure Games such as inventory and puzzles. Perhaps it’s best described as a subgenre of the adventure game that’s becoming increasingly popular. Some have called them walking simulators but maybe it’s best to call them minimalistic narrative-driven adventures.

“I can beat Myst in 30 seconds. Clearly it’s not a game.”

Except that you can’t.

“Gone Home is as replayable as any other Adventure Game.”

True except most adventure games will last 6-8 hours, so you’d have to play Gone Home four times over to equal one playthrough of an average adventure game.  It’s length is a problem. Games that are “too short” are often criticized for being so, I don’t see why we should spare this one.

Jul 16, 2014

Technically I would agree it’s an adventure game.

I think one of the reasons that I (and perhaps others) had such a visceral negative reaction toward this game is that it was hyped up in the press as something special and when I played it, it was so much less than what was advertised. Very short - and the interview implies that they knew it wasn’t worth the price being charged but figured many people would pick it up on sale. No puzzles to speak of. No characters to interact with. A story that was somewhat interesting but felt inauthentic to me - like the interview says, they were writing something they didn’t know. At the end of the day, I wasn’t left with much of anything of substance.

Jul 13, 2014

As someone who has played short adventure games (Adventure Game Studio!), as well as “casual” ones, I’m shocked at the reception Gone Home has gotten by the AG community. It’s a point-and-click adventure disguised in first-person perspective.

As for whether or not it’s a good game, we can go on all day about subjectivity, but I’m of the camp that loved the story. It’s a bit out of line for people to insist that I’m either lying or delusional. There’s a lot of subtle world-building in Gone Home. I’d argue that it’s like a Chantal Akerman film, in which most will walk out convinced it’s the dumbest thing ever put to film. But those who stick with it will see how it works by slowly reinforcing a different mode of thought.

I’ve played it twice. On the second playthrough I uncovered more artifacts and information that I hadn’t before. I’ve never cared for replayability (it depends on the game, not the medium as a whole), but Gone Home isn’t any less replayable than Grim Fandango or Myst; by and large another playthrough will yield nearly the same results.

Jul 13, 2014

Hey Jim, I think you’re hurting your case there by comparing it to Myst. Smile Just kidding (sort of). Smile

Jul 13, 2014

I can beat Myst in 30 seconds. Clearly it’s not a game.

Jul 13, 2014

I like this quote:

“What they had—resources, their own skills as developers, ideas for what they wanted to make—came first, and Gone Home’s narrative was designed within these constraints.” Sounds about right to me. Let’s see…resources - not much. Skills - eh. Ideas - anyone got any?

I agree with the first comment made by Zane. In the spirit of compromise, I am willing to concede that Gone Home is in fact a game, if we can all agree that it is a lousy game. Smile

That being said, I still just ordered a retail copy, since i am a glutton for punishment. Thanks GB for tipping me off to that. Of course I wish I could have applied what I paid to the download version toward the price of the retail version, but I guess life isn’t fair.

Jul 12, 2014

“as or more replayable than any game with any kind of choice making at all? or quest for glory style games?  or games longer than 2 hours?

Oh ffs, you know perfectly well what he means. Is it not true that the vast majority of adventure games, both highly lauded/popular and not, are little more than linear paths blocked usually by a one-solution puzzle of some sort? Games that provide zero incentive to play a second time unless you really like the graphics, story, characters, humor or something else not related to the actual game?

Quest for Glory-style games are an anomaly. In fact the only other game I can think of like them is, oh what a surprise, the recent;y released Quest for Infamy.

Adventure games that allow for choice-making are also generally rare. Yeah Telltale Games has been trying to push this aspect heavily though as far as I know the end outcome is the same in all of their games no matter what choices you make. And the meaningful end choices for the games that allow it tend to be saved for the actual ending itself, like, say, a text box asking whose side you’ll take and that’s it.

So yes Gone Home perfectly fits the mold of an adventure game, just with free motion instead of static pointing-and-clicking, little in the way of taxing puzzles (there are locker combos and keys to find, not very difficult but it’s still something) and a shorter running time than most. But short adventure games, acclaimed or not, is hardly a new thing. The Shivah for instance is takes as long to finish as this, if not even shorter, even on a first playthrough. It’s slightly more challenging with a more interesting story but at the same time it’s less interactive with less things to do or mess around with.

Jul 12, 2014

“Gone Home is as replayable as any other Adventure Game.”

as or more replayable than any game with any kind of choice making at all? or quest for glory style games?  or games longer than 2 hours?

Jul 12, 2014

Gone Home is as replayable as any other Adventure Game.

Zifnab, you can actually use Wikipedia as a game. Such as the ‘Getting to Philosophy’ game.

Jul 12, 2014

Is it a “game” that anyone will ever “play” more than once? Here’s a “game:” unravel a ball of yarn throughout your house, and tie a candy bar to one end, and hand the other end to someone and say “have fun.”

Jul 12, 2014

Jim - Indeed, some of my favorite games include such treasures as Wikipedia, Microsoft Encarta 95 and “Guide to North America’s Tourist Railways & Museums Interactive CD-Rom”.

I really think the article makes things unnecessarily complex. The video was all that was needed - people who say games like Gone Home aren’t games do so because there isn’t enough “action”. They have no argument, so there is no response needed.

Jul 12, 2014

Gone Home is a ‘game’, because it is interactive.

The End.

Jul 12, 2014

“It doesn’t have to be a game. It just *isn’t* a game, that’s all.”

Except that it *is* a game. Any actual meaningful rebuttals of the article on your part? To me it’s definitely more of a game than the latest Call of Duties or Medal of Honor: Warfighter which are just theme park rides running in a straight path where you have zero agency when it comes to anything.

Jul 11, 2014

That’s not a spade; it’s a dirt exploration tool.  Wink

Jul 11, 2014

“Gaynor said. “If the point of the game is to experience this story, why does it have to be a game? Why isn’t it just the text?””

It doesn’t have to be a game. It just *isn’t* a game, that’s all.

Jul 11, 2014

My contention isnt whether its a game. But whether its a good game. And whether its a good game simply because its “different”. And that being different excuses it from its short falls in substance of content. The storytelling method is an interesting one, but the story it tells is bad. Its nice that they have a bajillion layers of flavor text and detail to create a driving atmosphere, but it doesnt have the story to back it up, and the story it does have isnt even terribly logical by the end for sam to have left things around the house the way she did. I agree its a game. But it should also be held up to the same standards as other games.

Jul 11, 2014
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