A week ago, at PAX Aus, I sat in front of a room of more than 400 people and spoke about queer representation in games, how far it’s come, and how far it still has to go. For many of the panel attendees, that room was a safe space, a place where they (where we) could be ourselves and dream about a world in which diversity was celebrated, not used as an excuse for divisions in our society. Despite the boundless possibilities that video game worlds possess for creating this kind of environment (literally, you can create any kind of environment) for a lot of people, having their story told in this medium is a rare gift, one they then cling onto to keep them going. We all want to see ourselves represented in the things we love, and we all get a kick out of seeing someone we relate to save the day, or drive our ideal car, or just genuinely kick butt in any meaningful way. Of course we do. But some of us cling to these stories and these examples just that little bit harder, because when reality feels like it’s actively destroying us, we turn to fiction. Since my fellow panelists and I spoke in front of those 400 people last week, the world has really amped up its level of destruction, and now those stories that give us hope are even more important than they’ve ever been. The real world is a scary place for a lot of us right now, so we need our fictional worlds to deliver the goods.

But games are expensive. On top of dealing with the world’s bad mood swings, a lot of people don’t have the means to acquire the very things that they need to get them through, and that can be a dangerous thing. Sometimes, finding that one thing to cling onto can literally mean the difference between life and death. This weekend, one of my favourite games of all time, Gone Home, has been made absolutely free by developer The Fullbright Company. It was announced in this tweet.

Without saying too much about the plot of Gone Home (because if you haven’t played it, half of the joy is in the discovery) I can say that it is absolutely a story about hope and love, and I’m excited to know that a whole heap of people who might be struggling right now can have one more thing to hold onto. In a world that’s so ready to tell us it’s not okay to be who we are, we need immersive games like Gone Home to show us what it can feel like to be told that we are more than enough. We are important. Our stories are important. Games allow us to assume a different character and experience the world through their eyes, but surely there could be more to this. What if they gave us a way to see the world through our own eyes, but what we were seeing was a better world. An accepting world. Maybe then we would all feel empowered to accept ourselves and the people around us, and when the real world fought against us, we’d feel confident enough to fight back. By telling our stories, by showing that we’re normal, games can make a real difference. So thanks, Fullbright. Maybe this weekend someone will have the chance to learn that a story like theirs is worth telling.

About The Author

Jess is a psychology researcher by day and is determined to find a way to merge her gaming and professional lives. She loves point-and-click adventures, games with strong narratives, and her love of puzzles in all forms has actually caused her to use the phrase “that reminds me of a puzzle” whilst in a furniture store. She can generally be found on Twitter @zammitjess talking about games, feelings, and her life as an anxious mess.