In early July, Rockstar Games posted a Question & Answer session on its website related to ongoing video game development. While the Q & A primarily discussed other games, Rockstar did respond – in intriguing fashion – to questions posed about any prequel or sequel to its 2010 Red Dead Redemption. Are these early “telegraph tappings” a sign of something to come?
The critically-acclaimed Red Dead Redemption is set in 1911 with the Old West closing and players as John Marston, a reformed outlaw, forced by the US federal government to track down his former gang. The game is “open world” in that Marston can ride off to explore areas akin to the American plains, the Rockies, the southwest and even Mexico itself once sections of the single player narrative have been completed. Additionally, the online multiplayer feature allows a gamer to assume a number of Western male and female characters – from a range of racial backgrounds – to either take on or join up with others from around the world. Red Dead Redemption won “Game of the Year” at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards.
In response to questions about a follow-up to their definitive Western video game, Rockstar shared the following:
“We love Red Dead too – and are thrilled that so many of you loved John Marston’s tale and are excited for more epic Western action. ….we don’t always rush to make sequels but that does not mean that we won’t get to them eventually. Stay tuned for further announcements about the future of the Red Dead series.”
This writer believes Red Dead Redemption to be the most important Western to come along in a generation as it has connected a younger age group to the genre in a new and important way. The game is serving both as an initiation for many into the genre and as a framework for interpreting Westerns – within the comment sections of YouTube clips viewers have shared how a given Western film reminds them of Red Dead Redemption in terms of story, characters and/or location.
Lest anyone think that this is simply a formulaic “shoot-em-up” game, it is important to note the number of major ideas that serve as an ideological framework for Red Dead Redemption. Those ideas include a time period in which the Old West lifestyle was fading, the encroachment of central government and corporate industry into rural areas, Indigenous territorial rights and the presumption that Christianity was necessary for the “betterment” of Amerindian peoples and that both government and revolution in the “name of the people” can be co-opted by those seeking personal gain.
Here is the 2010 launch trailer for Red Dead Redemption:
It has been said – by observers of the Western genre – that each generation gets just the Western that it needs. Red Dead Redemption has been that for the video game generation – any follow-up will only continue to bring fresh perspectives to a genre that remains the first framework for interpretation of the non-Indigenous North American experience.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)