A few decades ago the masses believed video games were a waste of time for lackadaisical youths to pacify themselves while ignoring their responsibilities as both kids and young adults. As more and more people started understanding the benefits of gaming so too did the perception of what a video game is and, most importantly, the benefits gaming can bestow on a person’s life changed. Hi, my name is James Bullock and I am a gamer who has spent the better part of his existence testing the laws of physics, exploring the vastness of a world ruined, and been a champion inside various arenas courtesy of digitized worlds both driven by reality and created through pure unbelievable ingenuity unlike anything seen by human eyes. And as a gamer I’ve discovered something else video games provide: life lessons. Today I examine a game that showed how the west was lost and won, “Red Dead Redemption”.
Times Are A Changin’
If someone ever asks me what’s the best and worst generation of gaming thus far I’ll give the same answer: the seventh generation spearheaded by Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and followed by the Nintendo Wii and Sony’s third Playstation console. It was the generation that gave way to wireless motion controllers, affordable DVD & Blu-Ray players that featured software containing games featuring grandiose worlds unlike anything seen on consoles up to that point, and an avenue for independent game developers to find a foothold in the business that once pushed for big party publishers being the go-to route if someone wanted to mass market a video game no matter the quality. But the eighth generation also laid the foundation for season passes & in-game microtransactions, day-one patches to potentially fix broken and/or unfinished games, and a certain lack of innovation as developers tried to chase the golden goose that had become obvious thanks to the success of “Call of Duty”. For Rockstar Games, they really rode the fence of sticking to what worked in the past and changing the entire perception of their most successful franchise in “Grand Theft Auto” with its fourth and fifth numbered sequels. But between those games being released was the decision to revitalize a franchise that made a pretty minor splash the generation before it by working on and putting out “Red Dead Redemption” for the world to experience. Originally declared by gamers as “Grand Theft Auto set in the wild, wild west”, “Red Dead Redemption” proved them right while giving the world something the “GTA” universe had been struggling to attain since the games’ leads started gravitating toward having more civilized human aspects & moral compasses (though both were incredibly warped to fit in the world): a lead character who felt grounded & realistic while still being a video game character.
It was 2010 when Rockstar Games gave gamers the chance to take control of the “RDR’s” focal character John Marston – a former outlaw who has to work for the Bureau of Investigation in an effort to attain amnesty for his actions while working alongside members of his old gang headed by the surly Bill Williamson. But the struggle for John to complete his mission wasn’t the most profound one for Marston. With the game set in 1911 – a time when the era of the American Frontier was starting to reach its end and men like Marston were both figuratively & literally being shoved to the wayside for the industrial era that was picking up steam in the United States and the lack of necessity for vigilantes and cowboys – John discovers throughout his journey something that many people learn to understand even if they attempt to deny it on a constant basis: the world is constantly changing. Though the evolution of the continental United States in 1911 doesn’t compare to just how fast things change in the 21st century, Marston’s problems with trying to live in a world that isn’t in need of him is a lesson in itself as it proves to be a great reminder of how times, no matter what century you live or lived in, are changing and there’s nothing you can do about it but go with the flow or remove yourself from everything that you don’t hold dear while society & civilization gladly does the same to you.
Have you learned any major life lessons from playing “Red Dead Redemption” or any video game for that matter? Leave them in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.