I was excited to start this game based on my experience with Gone Home. I enjoyed the historical background and mysterious plot of Gone Home and figured that Dear Esther would have a similar feel. As I started the game I had the initial confusion that I did with Gone Home because I did not know where to start. I was tempted to google Dear Esther and learn more about how the game worked but I remembered that it is not as short as Gone Home. As I ventured onto the island I figured I would start by entering the building attached to the lighthouse. I quickly realized I could not pick up items to examine as I could in Gone Home so all there was to do was look around. After realizing its just an empty abandoned building, I set out to try to figure out where I should be going. After wondering around the beach and deep into the island, I realized that there isn’t a specific place that I was supposed to be heading towards.
As soon as Dear Esther begins, the voice of an unknown male plays. The way this man speaks, specifically his accent and his word choice, plants the seed that this is not taking place in present day. But at the same time in one of the narrations he mentions a car alluding to the fact that it takes place within the last century. The narrated passages don’t really link up to one another that well. The information presented to me appears to be random pieces of a story that is being told to Esther. The only thing that I really picked up on is that this man has explored the island very thoroughly and is beginning to explain the story of a man who lived on the island, a hermit, who no one actually ever saw. I come to realized through my own exploring and the story that I am alone on this island. The creators of this game established an air of mystery with the loud gusts of wind, many abandoned structures, caves and random bursts of sad, ominous music.
I was not really a fan of Dear Esther which was disappointing since I enjoyed Gone Home so much. In Dear Esther I felt there was too much open space to roam which was slightly overwhelming because there was nothing I was really looking for so all I did was walk around. My character could not climb the rocks so I often felt like I was walking in circles and I was bored with my surroundings. I kept reaching the end of paths and would have to turn around and walk all the way back to try and find something else new which also then seemed to end up leading to a dead end. At one point I purposely fell off a cliff just to see what would happen. I felt that Dear Esther was very pointless and the story did not put itself together fast enough to keep me engaged in playing the game.
For anyone who had never heard of Bitmoji I definitely suggest getting the app cause its super fun. The Bitmoji app allows you to customize your personal character by changing their hair, nose, eyebrows, lips and clothes. There are many different images, with different sayings and that have your character in different positions, for you to use to express any feeling that you have. I use the bitmoji app regularly when having text conversations with friends. Most of the images have sayings on them so I tried to chose the most generic one for my avatar. I chose to use this image because of my frequent use of the app and I feel it describes me as a person in a simple way. I’m generally very bubbly and like to have fun and my character in this image is very excited. She’s also holding up a foam finger which works to represent me because I am a big sports fan, namely football. Its hard to find something that encompasses every aspect of who I am but this is a good start.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed playing Gone Home. Normally I am not a big videogame enthusiast but this game is different than my general idea of a videogame. When the game starts I am initially confused as to why no one is home to greet Katie when she arrives home from Europe. This detail and the note on the door from Sam create an initial allure to the game. When I first walk into the house I’m not really sure where to start because I don’t know what I’m what I’m looking for. To be honest at this point I looked up what the point of the game was, only to learn that there isn’t really an end goal as I had expected there to be. The creators of this game did a good job at adding mystery to the game with simple details like the stormy weather with occasional loud bursts of thunder or the random creaks that the house makes. There were many times when I actually worried there was someone else in the house and that something was going to jump out at me. The creators accomplished the goal of making the house creepy.
The choice to have Sam’s journal entries play when certain items are discovered or examined was a key part to establishing the story in the game. These entries help to explain everything that Katie finds as she examines her home and pieces together each clue. Although Kaitlin is the only character physically present in the game, her character profile is less established than Sam’s profile. It appears as though Sam is really the main character. We don’t know much about Katie except for the fact that she seems to be perceived as the better behaved child through Sam’s opinion. Sam’s transition throughout the course of the game seemed to play a major role in developing the story of Gone Home. As the game starts Sam is an insecure and confused child and by the end of the game she has become a reassured young adult. As the journal narratives begin I expected to be told the story of a young girl who feels like an outsider at her new school and struggles to find her place but it becomes a tale of finding one’s sexual identity. The creators of Gone Home were able to turn a predictable story in a semi controversial direction and make a much more interesting story.
Prior to playing this game I would have never considered a videogame to be a piece of literature. Gone Home as a very captivating story line and is able to insight emotion within its players. Gone Home has many of the same key components as a videogame which allows us to analyze it as a piece of literature which seems rare for a videogame. You can use literary tools such a setting, tone and characterization when discussing this game. It is interesting to see the connection between literature and videogames especially since that is exactly what this class is all about. I hope that we can continue to play more games throughout the course of this class that we can analyze in a literary manner.