How I Use It
Gone Home is the very popular indie game by the Fulbright Company. You play a 20-year old girl who, after spending a year backpacking across Europe in 1995, arrives home but your family has vanished and you have to figure out what happened in the year you were away. Gone Home deals with LGBTIA issues; the challenges, compromises and disappointments of adulthood; the nature of sexual desires, love and commitment. I enjoyed every moment of Gone Home, including learning about each family member's life thru the objects in the house.
A teacher called Paul Darvasi created a 2-month long curriculum around Gone Home for his literature class. Students bring their laptops to school and he provides them with codes to download the game. Students are given a few assignments to do while they play Gone Home. One is completing a spreadsheet with demographic information on the game's characters. Another activity is preparing a presentation on one of five major themes in the game. Students must also write and post a review of Gone Home in a review site or on YouTube. Check out his website, ludiclearning.org, for the entire curriculum. I love his Gone Home curriculum and would adapted in the following way: 1) getting rid of the spreadsheet assignment since filling it out while you play seems disruptive to game immersion and flow, 2) instead of making students choose a theme early on and have to wonder as they look at each object in the game whether it’s related to that theme (which would also be somewhat disruptive of immersion), I would allow students to play the game all the way thru and then ask them to think of a theme/topic of interest within the game to give a short presentation, and only give them some theme ideas if they can’t come up with any, 3) definitely give students the option to write a review or create any other type of creative media inspired by the game (drawings, poems, alternative endings, etc).
I also think we need to start building online courses with these games curricula, kinda like the Walking Dead course, since most teachers are not gonna have time to read 7 essays on how to implement Gone Home, so we need to make it easy for them. Having an online course that gives students the game, the assignments, forums, etc, would help streamline implementation for teachers.