“Gone Home” is a short narrative game where players play as twenty-year old Katie who just arrived at her family’s new home after she studied abroad for a few months. The year is 1995, and Katie’s new home, an old mansion, is deserted and trashed. Players have to wander around finding notes and clues from Katie’s little sister, seventeen-year old Sam, to see what happened. If this game or story sounds interesting, stop reading and purchase the game on steam for $19.99. It takes about two and a half hours to play through the beautiful mansion and the deep story.
Now for the spoilers. The game never really tells us much about the player, Katie, but we learn all about her little sister Sam. Sam is really struggling with her new life in a new home at a new high school. She used to talk to Katie about everything, so when Katie is suddenly gone in this rough transitional period, Sam leaves journals for Katie to find, so she feels like she’s still communicating with her. (The Greenbriar family portrait above shows Katie at the top and Sam on the left)
These journal entries explain that Sam found a new friend, Lonnie, who she felt very comfortable around. This friendship later becomes a lesbian romantic relationship. Because the year is 1995, Sam and Lonnie try to keep their relationship a secret knowing that their peers and elders won’t receive it well. One by one, people in Sam’s life figure it out. Sam’s story ends with her and Lonnie running away together. (Below is a picture of Lonnie and a picture from their relationship.)
I consider Sam’s actions very stupid, brave, and heroic. She has an underlying value of love, and lets it guide her actions. That’s the cause that she’s fighting for. I’m going to critically analyze Sam as a heroine using Freud’s theories of psycho analysis. I think this is fitting because Sam actually uses this therapy of just talking freely, with her journal to face the ‘oppressive’ world around her.
In Sam’s third journal entry titled “Big Gold Star,” players see analyze the beginning of Sam’s inner conflict.
“You know that feeling where the first moment you see someone it’s like have a big gold star around them, and you have to get to know them. Well there’s this girl; I think she’s a senior. She’s usually dressed kind of punk? But sometimes I see her in this, like, army uniform? And she’s always drawing in this notebook, looking so intense. I had no idea how I would ever, like, have an excuse to talk to her, till I noticed she and her friends hang out and play Street Fighter at the 7-11 every day after school.”
First, we see Sam’s id, the unconscious desires of her heart. She first describes meeting Lonnie as a feeling. She’s not telling herself to feel that way. That’s very distinct from Sam ‘looking for an excuse to talk to her.’ That is an example of ego, which tries to mediate between Sam’s id, the desire to be go meet Lonnie, and Sam’s super-ego, the realistic awareness of social boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed. Sam’s ego goes for quiet a roller coaster ride as it learns to follow her id/ desires over her super-ego/ reality.
The next great example of Sam’s ego hard at work is in the journal entry titled, “Lie to Mom and Dad Situation.” Hopefully it’s obvious what this one is about.
“Sometimes, you just have to lie to mom and dad. Like when Lonnie asked me to see a band with her and stay over at her friend’s place in the city after; that’s a lie to mom and dad situation. But it was so worth it. The girls on stage we’re just so… loud, and… real, and… awesome! And everybody was moving together like one huge tide of sound. Between two songs Lonnie leaned over and said, ‘how do you like your first show?’ I was so happy, I felt tears starting in my eyes and then she up’n hugged me. I think she could tell.”
In this journal we start off by addressing the super-ego, the reality of her moral dilemma. The ego compromised to do what the id wanted. She doesn’t want to lie, but her desire to go to the concert with Lonnie is stronger. Through the next few journal entries we see this pattern of the ego following Sam’s id, her desires and trying to leave reality behind. In the end that is what Sam and Lonnie try to do.
I still hold the view that Sam has a rather weak ego. She blindly follows her emotions too much and it got her into a ton of trouble. However, the story has a theme of getting into trouble. Both Sam and Lonnie are very anti authority and that is a large contribution to their heroism. They are breaking down the oppressive standards of those around them. That meant they had to “leave reality,” (run away) so I believe some of those stupid actions were not only justified but in fact heroic.