Interviews - Karla Zimonja on Gone Home

After doing a few interviews for my research, I soon realised that people - no matter if they were designers, gamers or any other pertinent actor in the field of video games - tended to mention particular aspects of video games (their mechanics, their narratives, specific moments that were relevant to them somehow) in order to illustrate their points or explain to me what they wanted to convey. Most of the time they found very difficult to express what they were thinking and feeling in an abstract way, so they used particular references attached to gaming experiences to make their thoughts and emotions emerge. I thought then that it could be a good idea to try a new methodological approach: focus my attention on a particular video game, play it, see what was said about it on the Internet (gamers and critics) and, after analysing all that information, contact their developers and ask them about some of the main topics I found during the process. What you'll see in this new section is that conversation.

Today, the fabulous Karla Zimonja, co-founder of Fullbright, on Gone Home.

Daniel Muriel: In order to contextualise the interview, could you tell me something about yourself, about your academic and professional background? How and why did you end working in the video game industry?

Karla Zimonja: Sure, so let’s see. I went to school for animation. I have a degree in animation. I did some TV shows for a couple of years before a friend of mine, who was working at a game company in Massachusetts, was like: “We need an animator, do you know how to animate in 3D?” And I was like: “I know how to do stop motion!”, which is not the same – I tried it for a long time and try to make it the same but it’s not -, and I did some tests and it wasn’t that hard, and so they hired me (this was a long time ago). I was lucky enough that the studio was switching software. They were switching from Lightwave to Maya, so I got to learn along with everyone else, which was super convenient! Then I worked as an animator for a bunch of years and eventually I kind of burned out on it and started working at 2K Marin as a researcher and sound-tech-person-ish part-time, and I just started doing more and more things and then I got to be full-time and got to do a lot of different jobs. 

DM: Let’s talk about Gone Home then, right? Why did you decide to do a game like Gone Home? What did you expect to achieve with it?

K: Initially, I think, we just wanted to see if it would work! We wanted to see if we could make a game that was exploratory and interesting in first person without having any combat or puzzles, for that matter. We wanted to see how that would work as a game, and we thought we would like to play something like that, so we sort of hoped that other people would.

DM: Gone Home was released on, if I’m not mistaken, the 15th of August 2013… 

K: Yes!

DM: According to what you expected, how everything went, in your opinion? I’m speaking about its reception by both critics and gamers

K: More people cared about it than we assumed it would. We did not necessarily think it would be, you know, super noticeable. But I guess it did end up being that! We got a lot of really good responses and a lot of amazing emails by people who were really touched by it and stuff, and that was extremely good. 

DM: Are you satisfied then with the …?

K: Oh yeah, it’s hard to not feel something when someone writes to you and tells you that your video game gave them the courage to likes come out to their parents! 

DM: Did you receive a lot of emails or messages saying: “Well, this video game really touched me, or really was important for me”?

K: Yes, we got a surprising amount of emails that are just the sweetest. Yeah, totally! I think part of it is that if you care about something you will have the motivation to write about it, but if you’re really angry about something, you have to dig around and find someone's email, and it's effort, so we got very few horrible people emails and almost always very sweet emails from people who our game meant something to, which is great! I did have to block a lot of people on Twitter, but…

DM: I think that is unavoidable. According to those things you are telling me right now, what impact do you think Gone Home had on the people who played it? What would you say the main emotion people conveyed to you is?

K: There is a lot, because it’s one of those games that you have to kind of engage with it yourself, and on whatever level you happen to engage with it, that will determine your experience of it. There’s a certain range of responses that we definitely … let’s see, we got a surprising number, whenever we heard from guys, they’d be like: “I identify with dad”; we heard from women or young women or actually young men too sometimes - older men, they like dad - but younger men and queer people were often like: “We’re validated by this”, which is really nice. The responses we get are usually very supportive and personal. Not like comments on Steam [laughter]. We actually heard from some parents who played with their pre-teen, or whatever, teenage children, and it’s really cute, it’s really sweet! I think we got one email from a hardcore Christian who was like: “I can't allow my child to look at this.” But yeah, they have to be used to there being gay people in the world, so, sorry, guys! [laughter]

DM: Maybe Gone Home has helped some people to realise that as well.

K: Yeah, I hope so! That’s the thing about video games, they can give you experiences that you can’t have in real life, that you haven’t had, so it can be, hopefully, an experience that can add to someone’s conception of how people are in the world.

DM: When you were working on Gone Home, did you explicitly think about the people who were going to play the video game?

K: We did, because at the very least, we wanted to make it very accessible, so we didn’t want to make it hard for people who were new to first person video games. We did not want them to have a horrible time. We wanted to be able to get someone who says: “I don’t know how to play video games” and go: “Try it!” I think a thing that can be said is that it allows you to learn without pressure. Because there's no timing,  puzzles, there is nobody that is going to shoot you if you don’t do something right, etc. etc. So, we got a couple of emails from people that said like, “Now I know how to play first person video games, so I can go play Portal”, or what have you, and that’s cool! [laughter] So, accessibility is a thing. I think that’s actually one of the biggest things. We just wanted a wide range of people be able to play it. 

DM: Do you think it’s possible to design a video game without taking into account the people who are going to play it? 

K: Uhmm. I’m not sure. If you try to do that you probably just end up designing it to your own specifications. You would just make what’s comfortable for you... I don’t think you can completely abdicate. Something will be there.

DM: You received a lot of emails telling you about what people thought about your game, what impact it had on their lives. Now, in your opinion, what kind of impact would you like to have on them?

K: I feel like my favorite thing that I would like to see more of is older people playing it and realising how things can be different. It would be cool if people who needed it or who would be helped if they played it, although that’s not very specific.

DM: It’s about what you’d like to do with your video games, so I think that’s also something that’s very interesting: just someone who needs it. It’s a good answer!

K: There’s a lady player character, a lady protagonist, so even that might mean something. It seems like games should be at that point, but I don’t think we really are. So it’s nice to provide that to people and I hope that people are pleased.

Is Gone Home a video game?

DM: The status of Gone Home as a video game has been under scrutiny from the beginning, from both critics and gamers. Quoting Brian Crecente from Polygon: “Is Gone Home a video game? Gone Home is a game of exploration and narration, an effective vehicle for storytelling. But its lack of puzzles and combat, and the inability to lose or even change the outcome, have some questioning its gaming legitimacy.” I also found that others recognise that this is a game, but they would have liked to see more of game mechanics. There are also some gamers who say that it’s just an interactive fiction, or a walking simulator, a label which has been used with other games, or that the story of Gone Home could have been delivered as a book or as a film. What do you think about this? Is Gone Home a video game?

K: I don’t see why not. I think it’s a video game. I have no idea why it wouldn’t be. The thing that people don’t necessarily understand, I’m not even sure whether we understand it for ourselves, is that a lot of Gone Home's difficulty, the challenge, takes place in your head. It’s not an external challenge, it’s an internal challenge. You have to figure things out, you have to put pieces together, you have to use your intelligence, and your social intelligence. There’s obviously no way a video game can give you achievements for that, because that’s not possible. I think that it's moving where the challenge is, from dexterity-based skills or quickness to mental challenges. I think that is interesting and I feel like it’s perfectly challenging. It can be a big challenge to figure out what’s going on from disparate pieces of information. 

DM: It is very interesting because, right know, I have this written down, it was someone defending Gone Home as a video game, and this person said: “The game happens inside your head, as you start to piece together the scraps of information you’re getting”.

K: They’re exactly correct.

DM: That is actually what you were saying right now. 

K: They’re exactly right. I mean, it’s unusual, right? Except, that’s the thing with a lot of interactive fiction and Twine games and such, it's actually not dissimilar. So, I’m not insulted by people calling it interactive fiction at all! Because you are parsing the social and normal events, you’re thinking about them, you have to do work in order to engage with these works. Your work can be skill based, but it’s not manual skill based. It’s interesting. 
The other thing is, of course, that you drive your own experience of it. You just follow your own nose, your own interest. You get to follow where you’re interested in, so you can direct your own investigation, basically. You don’t have to find everything in order to understand most of the story. You can investigate to the depths you want to bother with, and stuff like that. It allows you to set your level of engagement, which is hard to do with a book. It’s about choosing your own path.

DM: There are a lot of people who firmly believe that this is a video game, of course. But they say that this is not a ‘classic’ video game. It’s something new. Was this something that you were looking for? Something that is not usual in the video game industry?

K: Oh, definitely! For one thing, we all worked on Bioshock games and we thought, can we do something like that where the world is interesting and want to find out about it, but also there’re no jerks trying to shoot you when you’re doing it? So you get to actually explore, like you want to, as opposed to exploring when you can, and shooting the rest of the time. That was kind of the seed of it, I think.

DM: There was a comment about the game, this person said that it’s a game that might appeal to people who don’t usually play video games. This grabbed my attention, because not only is Gone Home seen as a game, but it could be seen or understood as a device to turn people who don’t play video games into people who play video games. 

K: Yeah! I mean, yeah, it can, which I’m really pleased about. We are lucky to have been able to do that, because it is really nice to sort of open that door for people, letting them understand that they don’t have to be intimidated so much. You know, a first-person novice game player watches somebody playing something really fast paced and intense, and I think it's a lot easier for them to just say “Oh, I don’t know! You play it, I won't try.” If you let them learn the basic principles of moving and looking first, it can be a lot better experience, probably. Like I was saying earlier with the lady who said: “yeah, I played your game and now can I play Portal”, and I was like: “That’s really cool!”, because Portal was kind of amazing. Can you imagine, that your first real Triple A video game was Portal? [laughter] That is pretty cool! I love the fact that we can make our games accessible to people. It seems horrible to make games that exclude people. Obviously, there’s always more you can do, you can always do more for people who are disabled in various ways, you know, hearing impaired, sight impaired,  and there’s always more to be done.

DM: I know this could be a tricky question, but how would you define video games? Could you give me the definition of video games? 

K: Argg, uhmm, alright, let’s see. 

DM: I’m sorry but I have to ask this!

K: Let’s see. I sort of feel like anything that is interactive and has feedback that… ugh, that… ugh, this is so wrong! I hate this, I can’t define anything! I went to art school, people ask me: “What is art?” and I’m like: Nope! I don’t know how to do it.

DM: Every time I ask this question, people struggle to give me a definition of games. 

K: Someone can always be like: “Well, if you define it that way, then how is Photoshop not a video game?” I feel like in a lot of ways it’s kind of an ‘intent’ thing, much like defining art, like, did you intend this to be a work? And if so, it’s probably what it is! But, I’m not really picky about the definition of video games, shall we say? I think it could be very broad. 

DM: That’s the good thing of being a sociologist, because I don’t need to define the object, because I have to let the people do the defining, the social definition of video games. I don’t have to do these kinds of thing, so. [laughter] 

Trusting the player

DM: There was this interview with your colleague Steve Gaynor. He said that there was a deep trust in the player to explore and not to be told what to do in the game. Also, in another interview he said, and I quote: “You have to always try to think of what I would want if I were the player, I personally want a game that allows me to inhabit it without getting it all up in my face. Being hands off with a player and trust in them to discover what’s interesting about the game world on their own yields the best result in my opinion.” What does ‘trust the player’ mean to you?

K: We obviously agree pretty closely on that. To me personally, we need to allow the player to pull themselves forward, because if they’re not interested enough to do that, we screwed it up. [laughter] Your motivation is the strongest motivation. I could be like: “Hey, there is this cool coin over here, you can come collect it”, or I can just make this area look interesting and you want to come look at it. When you choose to do it yourself instead of being tricked into it, it’s a much better feeling and experience for the player, period. 

DM: Is the player explicitly identified as a fundamental agent responsible for making the narrative possible? Would you say that this story of Gone Home is enacted through the player?

K: Sort of? I think it’s reconstructed in a lot of ways. It’s less performed or enacted, and more reconstructed.

DM: So, you would say this is reconstructed.

K: In a way, yes, it’s reconstructed and understood, I guess. In some ways it’s kind of brought to life, but it’s brought to life by the player’s head, so, it’s a little bit squishy [laughter]. 

DM: What do you think about the criticism of some aspects of the game that seem not to trust the player that much. I’m going to tell you some examples. Someone mentioned locked doors… So I know there’s an option to play without any locked doors but well… They said the voice-over, the notes, the setting and the stormy night. For some there were these misleading horror elements. They have been depicted as being contrivances and ways to deceive the player. What do you think about this?

K: Well, it’s a lot of things. Mostly those things were necessary in some way or another, because we’re not perfect creators. The locked doors are there so that we can be sure that you got a chance to understand things more or less in order, in chunks. So that we can be reasonably sure people get this part of the narrative, and so after that they could go do another chunk, go nuts. Because it’s a difficult thing to ask of people: “Yeah, here's all these random ideas, figure it out!”. That’s a bit much. Atmospherically, I think we wanted to make it seem like a real life creepy house. Being alone in an empty house is kind of creepy all by itself, right? Some people who played a lot of horror video games are instantly like: “Alright, monsters, horrible things!”, and it’s kind of hard to walk that line, because the more experienced players have a different expectation than the less experienced players. I think we chose to favor the less experienced players in this case, because, I don’t know, they need more attention. We need to think about them more. 

DM: What is interesting for maybe more seasoned players is that, for instance, they expect something to happen and then there are no monsters there, but somehow I think that’s cool as well.

K: We repeatedly put details in to say: “Alright, you think this is scary? It’s not actually scary!” We did that a few times. But I think some people were freaked out anyway. 


DM: One of the words that is usually associated with the game, by both critics and gamers, is ‘empathy’. There are a lot of people who recognise themselves in the characters, the stories, even if they don’t share many characteristics with them. There were people that were emotionally hooked by the game, people caring about the characters’ fate. How do you feel about this idea of empathy? 

K: It’s cool. It’s a good thing.

DM: Did you seek to have this particular effect on people?

K: Yes, totally, that is intended. It’s connected to the whole ‘video games allow you to have experiences that you couldn’t have otherwise’ thing. It’s like a grad school-age white dude gets to see what it’s like to think about the world of a teen girl in the nineties. That is … good? [laughter] Giving people other perspectives is good, I think that it is valuable by itself. Empathy, I think, will come if you try to make the characters relatable. 

DM: It’s very interesting the fact that a video game can help some people be in the shoes of other people. That is something that I think Gone Home really has achieved.

K: Thank you, that’s really nice!

DM: Really, because I’ve found a lot of comments. Even men, straight men. The game helped them to understand those situations.

K: I think we’re really good at empathy, as humans. It’s nice to be able to exercise that sometimes in video games. 

DM: Also, Steve mentioned that you achieved this notion of empathy by not telling too much about Katie, the character. To diminish the dissonance between the player and the player’s character. Do you think there are some limits when it comes to producing this empathy, diminishing this distance, because there is always going to be some distance between the person who’s playing and the character on the screen. 

K: Yeah, fair enough. So I think, in a lot of ways we were not necessarily going for empathy with Katie. It was more empathy with Sam, and we were trying to get you in the shoes of Katie, so you could have, basically, permission to have this knowledge and such. You have that basis, theoretically, for not feeling embarrassed for snooping [laughter]. I think Katie supposed to be there for the player to be able to inhabit as seamlessly as possible, but obviously she is not a totally unnamed protagonist, and she does have experiences in her past that the player doesn’t have and stuff like that. We tried to make it not get in the way.

DM: There is a moment in the game that you are reading some of Sam’s notes, and Katie says: “Stop, I don’t want to read this note.” I think it’s the first sexual encounter of Sam. This is the moment where you see, “Wow, the character is stepping in, right now Katie is doing something.” 

K: Yeah, that is the divergence. I thought that was fun, and I was actually really pleased to see, like, instantly people took screenshots! Which was really funny and cute. I think that’s fine, because that’s kind of a reminder of who you are in the game, and it’s mostly just a little fun thing.

The mundane texture of Gone Home

DM: Gone Home has been seen as an expression of the mundane and the ordinary, represented as being far from most of the core mechanics that usually define video games. Gone Home seems to radically embrace the quotidian texture of everyday life. For some that was disappointing but was celebrated by others. Gone Home is special because it's mundane; and it's mundane thanks to its peculiarity. What can you tell me about this idea of mundanity and ordinariness in Gone Home? 

K: Well it’s definitely mundane as fuck! [Laughter] There’s no argument about that. Honestly, the mundanity comes from trying to keep the world and its events really grounded and believable. If it wasn’t a believable style of furnishing and everything, it wouldn’t feel quite so plausible. We definitely wanted to make it possible for people instantly to think, “Oh, this is basically a real space!” It’s just keeping it as grounded as possible with things that you know what they are, you’ve seen them, your parents probably still have something like this. 

DM: Maybe that’s the reason that a lot of people empathise with the game, because it was so normal in a way that it could be anyone’s story. 

K: Well I hope that they can still do that without it, because our next game is totally not in a 90’s style [Laughter]. But anyway, yes, I hope people can also do it elsewhere, but I’m glad they had that experience. 

DM: One of the major things was the representation of homosexuality in the game. This is something that has been traditionally underrepresented in video games, probably in other fields of culture in general, but why did you decide to use this as part of the story?

K: We decided that kind of procedurally. When we already decided, “Ok, we have enough people on the team to maybe make a house”, and then we thought “Who lives in the house? Probably a family. What problems, what conflicts can families have?” That was one of the more interesting ones. We decided that we wanted a female lead pretty early, and so, you know, it just came out of that. There were things we cared about by default and then things we were constrained by. 

DM: People who define themselves as queer, especially among critics, usually praise the game. There were some of them who thought that Gone Home was stereotyped and stigmatizing, how it portrayed the homosexual community. Is this something that annoys you?

K: I mean, there is nothing I can do about it. 

DM: But do you think it is fair what they are saying?

K: The thing is with writing a story or having a game that concerns itself with a group of people that doesn’t get much media, when you do that, you can only make one thing. And so everyone from that community wants to see themselves, of course, because who doesn’t? But it’s really hard to provide that to everyone. And that is sad and difficult, but we only made one game and that was what we could make. We were very careful to interview people and get personal experiences that we then based parts of the story on, and we put in the effort to make the story authentic -- a lot of parts of it happened to real people that we know. And if that comes off as cliché to some people then they have probably all lived it or they know a lot of people that lived it and that is kind of rough. But I don’t think you can write anything that will include everyone! 

DM: Well, that’s impossible. Did you interview people to make the game, to get the story of it? That is quite interesting! Why and how did you do this research?

K: We contacted people that we knew or sort of knew and did interviews with them and we got stories from people. We interviewed two women who are married, for example. They got together in high school, so there’s a lot of relevant stuff to our story, and they had a lot of really good personal details that were extremely interesting. They had a lot of great stuff! And there's a lot of other little things, like this person I know, she had a not-great experience coming out to her parents and a lot of her specific retelling of what her parents said was so instructive. We tried to ground what we were writing in that, in those lived experiences. I mean, it’s very important to go and do your research when you’re depicting something that is not something that you went through yourself. 

DM: Is this something usual in the video game industry?

K: It’s not as common as it should be. Some people are more excited about it than others. I believe strongly in research, because I can never come up with anything that great on my own [laughter], so I need something to point me in the right direction and to constrain things a little bit. When you research you always find just infinite things that you had no idea about, and had you not found things that you didn’t know existed, your work would be much more shallow and  it wouldn’t be as good, it wouldn’t be as real. So, if you want to make things believable and real, research is really important! 

DM: I find it quite fascinating what you are telling me. How do you translate all that information that you collect during your research into the game? How do you create a character and a story and so on? With Gone Home specifically, but if you can tell me more about other things I would be very pleased.

K: We recorded interviews with people and we all listened to them and discussed what elements we could portray and what details we could change so it’s not too personal etcetera, things like that. We read everything we could that was available to us. I was not into that world in the 90’s, so I didn’t really have it available in my head. So I read books on it, and I read interviews with people who were out at that time. We went to some Goodwill shops and went to some thrift shops and took pictures of horrible furniture and we would say: “My mom had this!” or “My grandmother had this!” and we didn’t remember until we saw it. We actually got a Sears catalogue that… it used to be, once upon a time you’ll get these big thick catalogues in the mail, especially for Christmastime, and they would have a lot of expensive garbage you could buy. There was a toys section, I used to look at that when I was a little kid and be like: “Look at all the toy horses!” or whatever, but it has a whole bunch of other stuff that I never looked at when I was a kid, which is furniture from that time. We got an amazing old catalogue from eBay, and it was just amazing, like there is everything. I guess we were a little young in the actual time period to really take it all in aesthetically -- there were a lot of objects in the catalogue where we said “I remember this, but I wouldn’t be able to recreate it without this specific photo”. It would have been vague, you know? And vagueness kind of doesn’t cut it at all. Nowadays we, both Steve and I, do a fair bit of research as we go, and discuss it and figure out what we can use. There is always so many different avenues to explore, there is always something we can learn from basically anything. 

DM: I think it’s very important for you that the game would depict a world that was plausible, authentic, relatable. Because I think that you’ve said “We are researching a lot about this, we have to put this that seems to be authentic, the authentic experience, all what is plausible…” Why is that? Why were you so keen to put all that on the game?

K: I personally feel that you can only get to the general via the specific. I think you have to be specific about things in order for people to be able to parse it, because details in the real world are specific. You can’t say that someone is always angry and really understand it until you see them being always angry, right? This is not quite how our brains work. I think, for people to engage in the way that I personally like the best, is through specificity. Because I don't think you can please everyone, you can’t make a thing that is generic and widely applicable to everyone, really. You can in some situations, I’m sure there are ways in which that would work, but that’s not our particular thing. We kind of have to choose a path, and so we'd rather choose one that’s real, I guess. 

DM: Part of the story is about sexual abuse, I mean, the one that hints it, because it’s not a direct story there. There are hints that the father might have been abused by his uncle. I think this is something that wasn’t discussed as much as other parts of the story, but it still was there. Why didn’t you introduce this more explicitly?

K: I think that more explicit would have been really ghastly. I feel like stuff that is very strongly terrible is much better as a hint than fully explicated. It’s not something that we would want to be a major part of our game, because it would be horrible. It was a little side story that you can unearth if you’d like. I don’t think it would have worked very well if we made it more central.

DM: But, it’s there, it’s quite brave of you introducing that. In video games it’s something that you cannot see… I was going to say frequently, but I’ve never seen something like that in a video game! 

K: I guess that’s another reason to have a light touch with it. There is … uhm, yeah, ugh, I can’t even explain it! The idea of going into it more is just horrible. I feel like the implication that sometimes this is part of people’s lives, something awful that they have to deal with, is more important than describing events like that. There's a big difference between a story centrally about a person making choices and living her life and a story about someone who has had no choice but to be traumatized.

DM: There are other topics that appear in the game over there, like infidelity, even suicide. In hindsight, you see that you approached a lot of controversial topics in the game. But I was also thinking: “But at the same time, these are themes/issues that are mundane as well.” Do you think that the video game is the medium to deal with these issues or is just the expression of those everyday life concerns?

K:  I don’t think we were going for any lessons. For me, with stuff like this, the most important part is allowing people to understand why the characters are doing what they're doing, or feeling. It’s not about making statements about abuse, or infidelity. It’s more about understanding what it means -- why would a person make these decisions, how does this change their life? These are more important things to me, rather than trying to give someone a morality story. 

Identity and community within video game culture

DM: Just the last set of questions, I promise. Would you define yourself as a gamer?

K: Me?

DM: Yes.

K: Would I define myself as a gamer? I don’t know, not really. I mean, I play games, but I don’t house a significant part of my identity within that. 

DM: That is the interesting thing, because what role, do you think, video games play in your life, in your identity?

K: Uhm… identity-wise I feel like it only comes out in terms of something to talk about people with. Otherwise it’s kind of not quite relevant. Like, whatever, I’m playing Pillars of Eternity right now. That doesn’t make me a gamer! [laughter] I don’t know, I’m playing a game, it’s fine. It’s something I do rather than something I am. 

DM: But you are working in the video game industry, so you work creating video games, is that not a part of your identity as well? In that sense, I won’t say that means that you are a gamer, but it’s something that video games are attached to your life.

K: Yeah, that’s fine. Again, it’s something I do, rather than something I am. That does not strike me as an intrinsic part of myself. I mean, I make video games, I do it, I am not made of video game! You know what I mean? [Laughter] I don’t know, I have a hard time saying: “I am this”, it’s a little bit weird for me. If somebody said to me “you play games, you’re a gamer”, I'd say “ok sure, fine”, I'm not gonna get real upset about it. I’m just not going to put it that way for myself, I think. 

DM: Do you think there is a community of gamers?

K: You mean, in the world?

DM: Yes, like in the world, some people have told me there might be some community of gamers in general but also a community of gamers, specific communities of gamers.

K: I mean, surely, there are. There are a lot of people that treat it as a significant part of their lives and hobby and everything. People who play multiplayer games together and stuff like that, and that is obviously very community based. There is a lot of people who get together and try to solve problems in games together and stuff like that. I don’t see why there shouldn’t be. If people want to do that, there is no reason they can’t! [laughter]

DM: But you do not feel like you belong to a community of gamers. 

K: Well, I don’t know, I never thought about it. I don’t know whether I’d define it that way, but also like, I mean, I can discuss games with people, does that make me part of a community? I mean, I don’t really know [laughter].

DM: Last question. Do you think there is a video game culture in our society, in general? 

K: A culture… what does that mean? So, ok, what is 'culture' here? What is that? Is it an aspect of some sort of structure that …

DM: Do you think that nowadays video games has become more and more important in our society? A part of a culture in general, is it part of our society? That’s my question. 

K: So you are saying “is it part of our culture in a broad way”? 

DM: Yes.

K: Sure, why not? I don’t see why not. Movies are, why shouldn’t games be? That sounds fine. 

DM: Do you think that this is something that is starting to be more important? I’m not only speaking about only the numbers, obviously the video game industry is growing, but I’m also thinking about people now, even if they don’t play video games, they are starting to recognise symbols or some aspects of video game culture in general, like “Oh, that’s Minecraft!” or “That’s Pacman!”, those kinds of things. Is it starting to get embedded into our culture?

K: Sure. It’s the same as like Marvel movies, there’s people going around all “I’m wearing a Hawkeye t-shirt! I didn’t really know who Hawkeye was before I saw the movie, but now I like Hawkeye!" and I’m like “That’s cool!” Whatever, right? That’s fine! Games are definitely pretty visible now in more ways than they used to be.

You might be interested in having a look at this three-stage Gone Home review:
Flash Sociological Reviews: Gone Home (part 1: the media)
Flash Sociological Reviews: Gone Home (part 2: personal experience)
Flash Sociological Reviews: Gone Home (part 3: video gamers)

Other Interviews:
Mark Foster on Titan Souls (Acid Nerve, Devolver Digital, 2015)