Cara Ellison wrote a hilarious review of Dream Phone for Rock Paper Shotgun. This got me to think about my first time playing the game.
I was in high school. At the time I was a vocal feminist and misandrist. I was also pre-transition and only spoke of my actual gender in terms of jokes and other socially-acceptable cop-outs. I played the game with my girlfriend at the time. We both often “joked” about having a lesbian relationship. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t actually a joke.) For me there was an added layer of enforced identity in addition to compulsive heterosexuality, a layer that tried to tell me I don’t belong.
Playing this game fell into a category of experience common to girls like me, that can be hard to describe. It’s a combination of repugnant politics and unintended validation. Other examples include getting cat-called for the first time and being called a “dyke” as an insult. This game was part of my introduction to that category of experience. It was a moment simultaneously farcical and profound—the conflicted feelings you’d expect from a girl who loves the color pink but hates every negative and prescriptive stereotype society associates with it.
So go read the article, especially if you’ve just played Gone Home and are still awash in the purifying wave of 90’s nostalgia.