Gone Home – Interactive Storytelling

Gone Home is a story experience, just as much as it is a game

I’m probably a little late to the party, seeing as Gone Home was released in August of last year to mixed reviews, but I’ve finished the story just a few days ago. Playing Gone Home was an experience that has had me thinking ever since the credits rolled. What I really enjoyed about the game was how much it made me reflect on storytelling.

Banana for scale?

Banana for scale?

In the story, you play the part of Kaitlin Greenbriar who has just returned home from a year abroad to… an empty house. Her family is nowhere to be found. As Kaitlin (you) explore the house, the story unfolds through digital clues scattered throughout the home. What sort of things have the family been through? Where have they gone? What have you missed in your time away?

What really impressed me about this game was the telling of the story. Each piece comes through scraps of paper and letters scattered throughout the home. Each room (and there are quite a few in this mansion) becomes an adventure of its own, picking up objects, examining them and looking for clues about what exactly happened during your year of travel. The “world” (really just a large house) is a rich landscape of cabinets to look in, tables to browse, doors to open, and lights to turn on and off. In general it’s a peaceful game, although there are a couple of suspenseful moments. No violence or adult material here. Just a captivating story.

An engaging story that kept me playing to the end

Gone Home really captured my attention for the get-go. I was skeptical at first because I heard the game was pretty short (I completed the story in under an hour) but found that as I entered the front door I was immediately immersed in the “what happened” of the tale. The natural exploration of walking around and picking up objects and looking for clues never wore off. In fact, I’m ready to go explore again despite the fact that I now know what happened (or do I?).

Moving through the house had the classic game elements of locked doors until you find the key and trying to remember where you’ve already been (not an issue for me, but I’m sure my wife will get lost several times while playing), but it didn’t feel forced. It was a natural progression of territory unlocking. It made sense. And so the story kept me engaged. Because the environment didn’t feel unnatural, it helped me be more immersed in the story as it unfolded.

Storytellers take note

The way Gone Home unraveled the story was probably the most interesting part. As I participated in the narrative revealing, I felt in control of the story to a degree (the rules of video games still apply). I was able to explore the story at the pace I wanted to. To casually move from room to room examining items or to race through the clues to find out what happened. There was some narrative built-in to certain objects as I picked them up, but ultimately I was free to just… explore. As a storyteller myself (or at least attempted storyteller) it was interesting to experience the freedom to move about the story. Movies are generally very linear in their deliberations (Pulp Fiction or Memento maybe not so much) and unless you’re reading a “choose your own adventure” book, novels as well. Gone Home held a deep story in open hands. Roam around the house wherever you like (besides the locked doors I previously mentioned) and experience the story at the pace and order as you want.

I don’t know how to apply the example of story telling The Fullbright Company modeled in Gone Home yet. I’m still working that out. But the great part is that it got me thinking. And I believe that is a really good thing.

Check out Gone Home if you haven’t already. And if you have, let me know why you found it so engaging as well. I’d love to have a discussion about this thought-provoking game.

Games, PC

The Console War Is Not A War Between You And Me (Opinion)

The “Console War” is win win for gamers

PS4 Next-Gen ConsoleI’ve been thinking and what I’ve come up with is that the “console war” isn’t and really shouldn’t be between gamers. Gamers have a common bond, and that bond is their deep and passionate love for video games. The real war is between the companies who make consoles and I believe that’s a healthy thing. The manufactures of consoles have a business to run, and that business is providing consoles and games to the millions of gamers all around the world. It’s really a beautiful thing when you stop and think about it. Companies vying for that special spot right under your TV, getting you to use their social systems with other gamers and ultimately getting you to play their latest, hottest games. It really puts gamers in the drivers seat for the future of gaming. In this war, we have a vote. And we vote with our dollars.

Keep comments constructive please

Xbox One Next-Gen ConsoleBut as I look around the internets, mostly what I see is people grouping up into “PS4 fanboys” and “Xbox One fanboys” groups and slinging comments like “my conzolls is better than urz becaze I can (fill in the blank here)!!11one.” While some discussion about what each console does better than the other can be very helpful (especially to those who haven’t decided yet what console they’re going to purchase first or if they’re even getting more than one), it doesn’t help gamers as a whole. Rather than slinging mud, talking about the facts and advantages that each console offers is a much better way of sharing with others about why you’re excited about the next-gen systems. And that’s a much better way to interact with fellow gamers.

Be excited about the future

Any way you cut it, the future of video gaming is bright. With veteran console manufactures vying for your gaming dollars, the competition is fierce. And as gamers, we should be excited for how manufacturers are working to make the best gaming systems they can. Why? Well, ultimately they want your money. But to get your money they’re going to have to make killer gaming machines.

Gamers win

I’m excited for the future of the “Console Wars.” Not because I’m participating in the war, but because I am helping decide the outcome. And the war is about me as a gamer. Who doesn’t love being the source of an epic battle of interest?

How about you? How do you feel about the console war as a gamer?

Games, Microsoft, Nintendo, PS4, Sony, Wii U, Xbox One , , ,

Day One Patches and Next-Gen Consoles

Next-Gen Consoles Future is a Wired (or Wireless) One

I just wanted to mention a little something about next-generation consoles and the internet. There was quite a huff a little while ago when a major next-gen console maker mentioned their device would require an internet connection to work.

Next-Gen Consoles need the intenetThe reality is that all next-gen consoles (both PS4 and Xbox One and even going back to the Wii U) need an internet connection to work the way we’ve grown to expect. And I’d even go out on a limb and say I bet that you have an internet connection at home. (Unless you’re reading this at the library. Are you?). The reality is, pretty much anyone buying a next-gen console has internet, or has reasonable access to the internet. And while this first run of the next-gen consoles need a day one update, the ones manufactured later will most likely have the necessary updates in place (for military personnel, which is just about the only argument for cases regarding gamers without reliable internet).

The Future of Wired Consoles is Bright

Bottom line is, the next generation of consoles (both the PS4 and the Xbox One) will be “amazing.” And that “amazing” needs to be updated as the launch moves forward. Developing the OS and features will continue throughout the lives of the systems (look at the changes to the Xbox 360 dashboard over its life as an example) and a connection to the internet is a must to have the latest and greatest on your PS4 or Xbox One.

I feel weird when my console isn’t connected to the internet, which is hardly ever the case. I for one have no problem with day one updates for next-gen consoles that bring new amazing features we’re only just beginning to understand how they will change gaming (and I think I’m with you in hoping for the better).

Now, if the servers that host these updates don’t crash on launch, everything will be fine. But we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there.

Games, Microsoft, PlayStation, PS4, Sony, Xbox 360, Xbox One , , , ,