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The impossible relationship: Deconstructing the private space in Gone Home

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Based in the 1990s, the video game Gone Home has the player take control of Katie Greenbriar, a woman who arrived at the United States to her family’s abandoned mansion from a year of travel abroad. Pinned to the front door, a note written by Katie’s teenage sister, Sam Greenbriar, urges Katie not to search the mansion for evidence of the family’s whereabouts because Sam has run away to live a life with her girlfriend, Lonnie, after her father, Terrence Greenbriar, surveilled them and forced them to conceal themselves in the mansion’s secret rooms. Deploying a queer theoretical approach informed by the work of queer game theorists and cultural studies scholars, this article analyses the queer narrative and content of Gone Home’s lesbian relationship in order to illustrate how the home the player interacts with is a site through which to deconstruct the public/private dyad. It is also a space where lesbian identities are constantly surveilled and forced into hiding. The article concludes that Gone Home rethinks the home as a series of figurative closets within which gay and lesbian identities can only temporarily escape the trauma of the public gaze.
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Keywords: gay and lesbian; gender; queer theory; sexuality; trauma; video games

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bowling Green State University

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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  • The Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds focuses on theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres as well as ludic and serious online environments.
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