Jun 242010

To put it mildly, Rockstar’s games have a history of problematic depictions of female characters. Following on long-running problems with the series, Grand Theft Auto IV famously caused an eruption of outrage thanks to the IGN-produced “Ladies of Liberty City” promo. While the experiences shown in the video were not mandatory for players, they were supported by a game that regularly treated women as disposable objects there for the pleasure of the player. The few female characters that inched above that level were universally bereft of agency and dependent on the player. Given that the Wild West occupies a part [Read more…]

Jun 182010

Rockstar has made a name for itself based on games set in vast, detailed open worlds that, like many large and varied settings, have a substantial decoration of minigames. Although these diversions can play a very important role in world-building and changing up the pace of play, they typically get almost no mention in reviews, unless they form a significant part of the gameplay (GTA: Chinatown Wars‘ drug-dealing minigame) or have a unique aesthetic (No More Heroes 2‘s jobs). Red Dead Redemption, in an effort to add texture to its Wild West, includes a number of these side games scattered [Read more…]

Jun 112010

Trying to discuss the real nature of the Wild West is a bit like trying to discuss the real nature of Arthurian Britain. We believe, perhaps we even know, that the relevant historical period exists, but its true character has been almost completely obscured by myth. The early view of the West was fairly simplistic; the dime novels and Hollywood Westerns were characterized by the easy heroism of the gunslinger taking on bandits or the settler fighting savage Indians. Since the 1970s a revisionist attitude has produced a grittier and dirtier take on the West that frequently inverts the stereotypes. [Read more…]

Jun 082010

I want to begin by saying that I really like Red Dead Redemption, and a positive review will be forthcoming as soon as I stop being so bad at writing it. Rockstar’s new Western is an improvement over their work in GTA IV in a lot of ways, not the least of which is that I didn’t feel like I needed to take a shower after every play session. But the developer’s bad habits have a way of shining through, and to a large extent I liked Red Dead Redemption in spite of itself. No part of the game took [Read more…]