Populating the house in Gone Home with period-appropriate ephemera is one of my favorite things to do on this project. Music is important to several of the characters in the story, and therefore there was no choice but to make up some plausibly 90s rock mags.
I’ve made two so far — one based loosely on Spin (by way of Sassy) and one based on a more girl-oriented Option. We bought a passel of old Sassys, which are great reference in myriad ways, and searched up covers of the others. Here are samples of the originals, naturally belonging to those publications:
Note the bright, semi-lousy type, the either grainy or super-crisp photography, and the high contrast.
I did a bunch of research, made some layouts, hit up my friends for cool photos of themselves, and produced some pastiche.
Froth – Music and Culture. They started out more underground and overtly feminist (not totally Riot Grrl, but not quite Lilith Fair either), but took it down a notch in an attempt to get more readers. Now they like Beck and Green Day, too.
GROOVE: more mainstream, but retaining the appearance of a punky DIY aesthetic. They insist on the name of their magazine being reproduced in all caps. Classy enough to do a Kurt Cobain tribute cover (image courtesy Flourecente!), but not classy enough to keep a few other bands off the cover. (Here’s what Spin did: logo in the middle of the forehead.)
We think it’s meaningful to include real band names from the 90s in the covers. They corroborate the graphic design, and bolster the 90s-zeitgeist context. This helps the magazines feel more plausibly like real artifacts from 1995, not from some parallel universe where Johnny Depp never lived. Fair use allows us to use just the names of bands, so long as we don’t use any logos or copyrighted photos — hence why we have fake headliners on nearly all of the covers. (The one real period photo, the one of Kurt Cobain, is under a Creative Commons Attribution license.)
Magazines were so important in the 90s; their presence will help make the game feel like it has people with personalities, engaged by pop culture, in it. There’re definitely more of these in my future, and I’m pretty psyched about ’em.