According to developer Steve Gaynor, Gone Home and BioShock take place in the same universe.
In a recent episode of Tone Control: Conversations with Video Game Developers, Steve Gaynor of The Fullbright Company spilled the beans on Gone Home's exceedingly creepy tone: it's set in the BioShock universe.
"In a totally non-litigious way," Gaynor says, "we very lightly imply that it also takes place in the same universe as BioShock."
The link isn't entirely obvious, though. In BioShock 2's "Minerva's Den" DLC, a video game called Spitfire is secretly playable. Gone Home, which is set 30 years after the events of BioShock 2, contains a Super Nintendo game called Super Spitfire. And the game's publisher, CMP Interactive, is a reference to Charles Milton Porter, the DLC's protagonist.
Steve Gaynor and Fullbright co-founders Karla Zimonja and Johnnemann Nordhagen were actually a part of the development team on "Minerva's Den," so their interest in the DLC is obvious.
BioShock was the spiritual successor to System Shock, a futuristic franchise which published its last sequel in 1999. So, in theory, BioShock, System Shock, and Gone Home could all be set in the same universe, albeit separated by several decades.
"Again in a totally non-litigious way," Gaynor explains, "we very lightly imply that BioShock takes place in the same universe as System Shock. So, in theory, if you were to make a lot of logical leaps, all of those games have been linked together by our ridiculous retconning."
The fact that such a tiny part of Gone Home has been so throughly dissected over the last 24 hours is undoubtedly surprising to Steve Gaynor and the folks at The Fullbright Company. After all, we're only talking about a few easter eggs, not anything that might be meaningful to the game's storyline.
But given the video game industry's nervousness about copyright infringement, I wanted to see if the folks at Irrational Games had any issues with the Gone Home/BioShock connection. So, I contacted Ken Levine, the company's creative director and co-founder.
"Steve told me he meant it as a 'fanboy shoutout' or something to that effect," Levine said. "I like steve, so found it flattering. I don't think he'd co-opt stuff I created/developed any more than I would co-opt gone home."