If you want a game about the past, you need look no further than Gone Home.
I’m not talking about the past with swords and kings, or the past with Nazis, or the past with Romans. No, that’s not the past, that’s just stuff that happened a long time ago. This is the real past, a past I can remember.
When I was growing up, my brother and I used to record our voices on a cassette deck and pretend to be radio DJs. Alas, none of our recordings remain (although I am in no doubt of their excellence and unparalleled quality), but Gone Home managed in an instant to drag me back in time to an era of VHS tapes and mix tapes. Do kids even know what a mix tape is nowadays? Do they share iPod playlists with each-other in the schoolgrounds? Perhaps, but it’s not the same. Not even slightly.
Creating a mix tape takes time, energy, and far too much thought. You couldn’t just drag and drop the tracks you wanted onto a playlist, no, you had to find the right point on the tape, stop and start it at the right time and above all else learn the secret rite of pressing both play and record at the same time.
Then there were also the tracks to consider, especially the track titles. You had to consider what message you were trying to tell the person you were giving the tape to, and don’t tell me you weren’t sending a message, because we both know you’re lying. Too many soppy song titles could come across as needy. Too few could give the impression you’re just not interested, and the birdie song could give the impression that you’re criminally insane.
More important that that, though, was the cover. A fragile piece of paper crammed inside a plastic shell with only a few centimetres of space on each side to list every song on the cassette. Perhaps a small scribble of a picture, a message that in your teenage years you thought was cool or in some way controversial, and finally a title. And no, ‘Music tape’ just won’t cut it. Take your time, try and keep it neat, draw a little heart in the corner and ohshitnotaheartnonotoolatestartalloveragain…
I miss the past, but it’s gone now. Still, it was nice to go and visit.