I
think we all need at least one really nice positive thing about the
entertainment business every single day of the year, including weekends.
Sometimes it may be something simple, like a video that showcases
something fun and sometimes it may be a movie poster that embraces the
aesthetic we all want Hollywood to aspire to. Sometimes it may be a
long-winded diatribe. Sometimes it’ll be from the staff and extended
family of CHUD.com. Maybe even you readers can get in on it. So, take
this to the bank. Every day, you will get a little bit of positivity
from one column a day here. Take it with you. Maybe it’ll help you
through a bad day or give folks some fun things to hunt down in their
busy celluloid digesting day.

8.X.10



By Elisabeth Rappe  Author Page Twitter Page Facebook Page

What I’m Thankful For:

Red Dead Redemption.

I finally broke down and bought an XBOX 360 this year, and one of the enticements was Red Dead Redemption
“There’s this cool Western game coming out. See? You need a console.”  
Yes. I do need a console.    (Cut to feverish all-night sessions with Mass Effect.  This is why I scrupulously avoided a console in college.)

It’s
an incredible game.  I was initially disappointed in it because I didn’t think it was as interactive as promised (I
can’t hire a prostitute or talk to people?). Within a day or two, I’d realized my error and  was hooked.  But
I took it slow. This was the first game I’d spent more than $20 on (I’m cheap), and
I wanted to make it last. Plus, I liked watching the sunsets, bounding deer,
playing Texas Hold ‘Em, and getting John Marston drunk.

But
after weeks upon weeks messing around in Mexico, I thought “It’s time I
wrapped this up!” and started speeding through my missions.  The game is
like a snowball, and it gets weirdly easier the closer you get to the
end. I made some flippant comment on Twitter about how much I hated his
family (only one of the major flaws of the story — shouldn’t Abigail
have been more of a “my dear departed Claudia” type than a hooker with a heart of gold?) and I began
receiving ominous tweets back.  Well hell. Now I had to find out what those meant. Come on, Marsden, let’s
saddle up and see what horrific thing is … oh shit. 

I won’t
spoil it, but I’m not ashamed to say my eyes welled up.   It’s cynical
and sad. It’s not Sergio Leone, it’s straight up Sergio Corbucci.  I
have to tip my sweat-stained hatbrim to Rockstar, who clearly knew their
genre more than I thought they did, and showed a remarkable maturity in
scripting their own offering.  If Red Dead Redemption was a movie — and that’s not to belittle the game format — it could stand tall alongside any good Western. 

I
don’t want to dredge up that “Are video games art?” corpse, but there’s
something to be said for a game that can boast that kind of character
and genre work.  As I raced across snowy fields to the mournful tune of
the Compass track,
I felt what Marston ostensibly felt — eager to see my family, weary
from all the bloodshed, wildly hopeful that it was all over — and
wondered if that meant I was experiencing Art.  Sure, it’s predetermined
and manipulative, but so is film, literature, or television.  Western movies aren’t exactly known for their twists. We knew what William
Munny was going to do when he took that first swig of whiskey. We knew
how J.B. Books was planning to go out.  The luck of John Marston was actually a lot more questionable. Is any of it art?

But that’s not the point.  This isn’t a debate, this is a thanksgiving. I’m grateful that we finally have a Western game worthy of its spurs.  It’s about time that this old American myth — which has taken root in so many formats over history — really merged with the modern gaming system in a memorable way.    Playing Red Dead Redemption was an experience.   And I’m really sorry it’s over.