Did Tacoma, Washington’s Vicci Martinez inspire a whole new genre of video game?

Hello from Tacoma, Washington!

That’s right, readers, I have since quit my job at the Krishna buffet in Denver so I could move back home to Tacoma, Washington! It’s been surreal to be back in my beloved hometown after being homesick in Colorado. During those last few months there I put my controller down and revisited some albums from Tacoma native Vicci Martinez. Next I took a virtual trip down memory lane (i.e. Sixth Avenue) thanks to Google’s Street View and listened to Angel. Those first forty seconds of the instrumental intro to her song blasted me right into nostalgic bliss as it invoked memories of cycling across the city streets enjoyed with youthful freedom.

It had been nearly two years since last I had been to my hometown. Longest stretch ever before this was six months. I was in an especially unique and timely frame of mind. Unique in that it had never felt so magical to be home in my parents’ house in central Tacoma where I grew up, and timely because right around the corner was the release of Fullbright’s next highly anticipated game, Tacoma. What inspired Steve Gaynor and Karla Zimonja of Fullbright to choose our hometown? And, as the title suggests, could Vicci herself have anything to do with it?

 

*** SPOILER ALERT! ***

 

Let’s get right down to it, then. To begin, there’s Fullbright’s first game, Gone Home, released in 2013. It was a groundbreaking game because it featured an environment to explore to piece together a story, yet there were no guns or enemies to kill, or any real gameplay. Just walk around and search for the next part of the story. Basically a walking simulator. It was the story itself that was the real meat of the game: a realistic portrayal of a high school girl falling in love with a female classmate, the rejection and lack of support from her religious parents, and ultimately ending with the girls running away together. As a fan of Vicci’s, the parallels here are rather striking. The girl’s lover even joined a heavy metal band as the vocalist and played gigs. Striking, indeed, but “coincidence?”

I didn’t really give it much thought back then of this connection, but when I learned that their next game is called Tacoma, and was originally to be set in a house in Tacoma, Washington? Well that narrows it down a bit! Let’s read on!

Aboard the Lunar Transfer station Tacoma in the year 2088 there are six human crewmembers who have disappeared after an accident who you can dig up secrets about. Among those six from various parts of the world there is E.V. St. James who hails from Tacoma, Washington. (I’ll give you three guesses what that “V.” stands for in her name.) Here’s some info about her you will find out in your dig through her personal quarters:


Evie is captured in a recording singing a jazz song and playing her guitar

There are sticky notes on her headboard with what look like chords. So does this Evelyn Victoria also enjoy some singing/songwriting in her free time?

She is grieving the loss of a family member, her sister, as you will discover with your incessant digging up of her personal artifacts.

Evie doesn’t really look like Vicci, however, as she is black and has curly hair more like mine, but Natali Kuroshenko certainly fits the description.


Clive towers over tiny Natali. So many "ee" sounds with the first names. Evie, Natali, Vicci. Just sayin'.

Well paint me brown and call me Mexican! I’ve decided Natali is an intentional lookalike and you won't convince me otherwise.

So there you have it. I can now safely say that, as a classically-raised gamer of thirty years in Tacoma, having been a witness to the evolution of this medium, I am especially thrilled that someone from the City of Destiny could inspire not one but two games, as well as a whole new-and-favorite genre and contribute to the pages of video game history.

So thanks, Steve and Karla. You two are the best! Can you make a game about me next? I can do all kinds of cool things! Have you seen my manualism video? Let’s talk! Hit me up!

Edit: Oh shit I just realized — guess who’s birthday it is as of this posting?! Happy 33rd, Vicci!

PS: You can still borrow my Xbox to play this game, but it’s my brother’s so please don’t break it if you do borrow it. Let me know and I’ll bring it to your next show.

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