An introspective look that stemmed from a video game. (Spoilers)

Posted by SgtSphynx (1565 posts) -

About 12 hours ago, I finished Gone Home, and the game really resonated with me, I knew a couple of the reasons, but I wasn't entirely sure why. After vainly trying to stop thinking about the game and get some sleep for the past couple hours, I have realized why. I shall preface this by saying there are endgame Gone Home spoilers to follow, so don't read if you haven't played the game.

These days, I don't feel much of anything, fewer highs and lows, mainly just an even melancholy. Games, by extension, don't make me feel anything, and immersion is a difficult thing for me, but I was happy, truly happy, for a fictional character when I found out she ran off with her lover. At the same time, I was sad, but not for Sam. I was sad for myself.

If you had told me 18 years ago, when the game took place, that I would grow up to be a tired, cynical war veteran working a dead end job just surviving, I would have punched you in the face. I was going to be an author. And an astronaut. And maybe a game developer. I had fucking passion. I loved life and living it. My friends and I were going to conquer the world, we just didn't know how, and we weren't going to let that stop us.

My biggest passion was, by far, writing. When I was a senior in high school, for my senior project, I was going to write a book. I think my first mistake was letting my mentor on the project talk me down to writing just three chapters. Had I stayed with writing a full book, I might have seen it as a challenge to complete it in such a short time and finished it. 14 years later, I still only have those three chapters.

As I played through Gone Home, many of Sam's interests mirrored my own from that time period. I listened to punk rock and was very anti-establishment. I was rather into video games, still am really. I loved ghost stories, and X-Files was a favorite show of mine. I'm surprised there weren't any Unsolved Mysteries tapes in Gone Home, I feel that would have been right up Sam's alley.

As I said before, I was happy that Sam had run off to be with Lonnie. Up until that second to last note, I was afraid I was going to find Sam hanging from the ceiling in the attic. I've had my brush with similar situations as to what Sam was going through. Of course, that sadness I felt was for the person I used to be; that passionate writer, that creative young man.

He's gone now, and all that sits in his place is a tired, cynical war veteran. One that works a dead end job, merely surviving life. And that is no way to live.

#1 Edited by Vertrucio (149 posts) -

If you want to try to get back into game development, now is a good time to do so.

Send me a PM with anything you work you might have, or any interests, and I can either give you some paid work on my game, or point you in a direction on how to get to the point of paid work (or your own project).

Also makes me wonder about how you felt when you saw talk of Lonnie going into the military, with the way you seem to feel about your time after serving. I haven't served, but I've experienced enough of people close to me who have, respect where it's earned, but it always seems to take more of a toll than all of them were expecting. I definitely felt a sigh of relief when she decided not to, especially with what I know of how women are treated in the military even today, let alone in the '90s.

#2 Edited by Aetheldod (3723 posts) -

@sgtsphynx: Dude its only late untill you are dead .... ^_^ dont give up , I am too worried that I may not get to do what I want but as long as the dreams keep on existing is never late to start. Just to quote a line from a song "A dream only dies untill it has become real".

#3 Posted by JasonR86 (9726 posts) -


If anything I would say that this game has woken within you something that has been dormant for a while; a desire to do more than you are now. Why not pick up writing again? Your work may not be published but it might open up possibilities to you for exploration. I personally write and exercise to help me overcome some of my difficulties.

Regardless, I hope you see this awakening as an opportunity for growth and not just a one time event.

#4 Edited by geirr (2709 posts) -

@sgtsphynx: I had a very similar experience to you playing this game. Melancholy is a good way of describing most of my last 10-15 years and something about this game stirred the 15 year old me back in 1995. For the last 3 years though, and out of nowhere, my life has had an insane upturn. I'm not going to give details as it won't matter, just know that you never know what situation you'll be in tomorrow or three years from now. I know It's easy to foresee the same mediocrity every day for the rest of your life but there's always a small chance that something will turn out different, given time.

#5 Posted by SgtSphynx (1565 posts) -

@vertrucio: I was more the idea guy, one ofmy friends did the art and another was the computer guy. I'd equate what I did as akin to Peter Molydeux. the farthest we ever got with anything was in 96 when I had an idea of doing an RPG from "evil" point of view. We got almost the entire story mapped out, enemies, characters, the worlds it would take place in. We juat weren't any good at coding and I don't think RPG Maker was thing back then.

As to your other question, when I realized the relationship between Sam and Lonnie was what it was, I feared it wouldn't end well. As I said there are many paralels in this story to my own life, I broke up with my girlfriend 3 days before shipping to bootcamp because I felt it was unfair to ask her to wait or not follow her dreams. I went through with it, I'm glad Lonnie did not. It's weird, while I was in, I loved it. The Marine Corps was my life, and I was proud to serve my country. Ten years later I got passed over for promotion and couldn't stay in to make it a career like I had planned. Since then, I feel I've become somewhat resentfull. The country I enlisted to serve is different, the rights I swore to protect are being taken away by corrupt politicians. Since leaving, I've gone back to my anarchic youth, I will always pick freedom over safety. However, I feel that is an unwinnable battle, and so I am just another cynical wage slave.

I'm not always this depressing, it's just what happens when you take a good hard look at who you are versus who you thought you would be, and find yourself lacking.

#6 Edited by Oni (2110 posts) -

@sgtsphynx: It's never too late, man. The fact that you're acknowledging all of this, and willing to talk about it with total strangers, is pretty huge, to me. Do something to reinvigorate yourself. Start writing again, take some classes in something that's always interested you, whatever. Anything that breaks the monotony is a tiny step forward. I say this as someone who's perpetually afraid of stepping out of his own comfort zone, so I know it isn't easy, but you'll be glad when you do it. I'm slowly getting better at it, myself.

And lastly, don't be afraid to ask for help, with anything. Again, this is a super hard thing to do, but life will welcome you back.

#7 Posted by SgtSphynx (1565 posts) -

@jasonr86: You might be right about it reawakening something long dormant. I am now planning an 8500 mile drive around the states. I won't make it any time soon, there is a lot of prep work and saving before I do, but I will make that trip.

#8 Edited by Raethen (179 posts) -

@sgtsphynx: And you better write about it the entire time, because I would love to read it.

Edited: my words seemed too aggressive to me.

#9 Edited by Gabeffly (1 posts) -

It's good to hear how this game resonates for others too. Because it really did resonate for me.

I'm 18 right now, and I've been having a lot of stress and issues with my girlfriend and college and all that bullshit. lately I've been doing whatever I can do distract myself, and yesterday I did it by playing this game.

I've never had a game with such energy to it, as I was playing I was wondering if it could help me in anyway, because there were so many things that resonated with me and I had such memories with, even though I was young, I still remember VHS tapes and cassettes, the game consoles and public schools, it's been awhile since I've thought about all that stuff. But I think one of the biggest things that resonates with me now is the whole anti-authority thing. I would consider myself an Anarchist, I'm into the literature and the philosophy and all that comes with it. I can't tell you how I felt and how shocking it was when I came across the zines and anarchist things in the basement. It made me feel like I was Sam and my girlfriend was Lonnie, even though I'm a male. It was just all these things; the punk music, the zines, the photographs, the bands, I feel like it all brings back memories I wish I had. It makes me want to even go take pictures and develop my own photographs now. God, just living a life like that, it makes me want to spend my teen and 20s years in the 90's.

It was such a beautiful story and I can't stop thinking about it. I just had to get back online and write something about it, this is my first post on this forum. I want to write a zine now, I want to write anything, I've spent too much time distracting myself with youtube videos and bullshit. It feels good to write, this game has inspired me to go out and do something, to write in a journal, because I feel like now it's worth doing so, just in case somebody comes across my journal after seeing me disappear somewhere far away doing anarchist things.

Even though it's just a game, I feel like their story is real, if not exactly, I wonder how many times this kind of thing happens, just to leave everything behind and drive. That's what I want to do.

It's really good to hear that this game resonates with other in a similar way. We're not all different, I'm still young and want to make the right decisions and just doing what feels right. I hope things go well for you my friend.

#10 Edited by bjorndadwarf (18 posts) -


Hey man, for what it's worth, I agree with everyone else. It ain't over yet. Lots of people don't find their greatest adventures until they are in their 30s or 40s or beyond. And I say that as someone who empathizes deeply with you, having many of the same feelings at the same age, even if my path here was radically different than yours.

#11 Edited by eulogize_my_baked_goods (145 posts) -

This game captures brilliantly not only a place in time, but also the memory of a certain youthful energy that I also found surprisingly impactful. I'm 34 now and as with many people my age I'm seeing the achievements and explorations of my youth disappear into the middle distance, replaced by the inevitable mundanity of adult existence. Although my own story is very different from those depicted in the game, Gone Home brought all of those emotions flooding back. In many respects it's the first game version of something like Dazed And Confused or High Fidelity that I've seen in that it depicts a world overtly nostalgic but also succeeded in evoking a real visceral reaction within me. I really think Fullbright have created something very special here; a game that neatly sidesteps the many "not a real game" arguments by just being so damn effective at what it sets out to do. I can't wait to see what these guys do next.

BTW, ever since playing the game I can't get Genesis's Home By The Sea out of my head! Completely unrelated but in an odd way oh so appropriate.

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