Pacificism in the Great West

Red Dead Revolver is a great game.  You can unlock “things”.  It’s got a lot of challenges to complete, allowing you to unlock lots of “things”.

“Thinging” is a typical gaming format common in modern times from Farmville to Modern Warfare to PSN Trophies and Xbox Gamerpoints.

We as humans like unlocking “things”.  What a complete flock of retards we are.  What a full set of tools.

In the case of Red Dead, it’s pick this herb, shoot these animals, kill these people etc etc etc.  Think of it as “Farmville 1922”.

The single player challenges are a separate entity from the multiplayer ones, with completed multiplayer / “free-roam” challenges helping the player to level up etc etc etc.

There is the option to complete these challenges in a private “free-roam” server, all on my lonesome, no human interaction, all AI, all a bit of a quiet life.  Yet I need that element of unpredictability and threat which comes with the “potential deathtrap” that is the Public Free Roam, even if my only agenda is to pick a load of herbs, pootle around on my steed and generally be nice to all and sundry.  *sigh*

Historically, playing with  human player-characters (PCs) as opposed to only NPCs is a guaranteed one-way-ticket to frustrationville.  Spamming exploits, “cheating” camping/sniping, relentless petty childish violence, etc etc etc.  In fact, introduce a good population of humans into any multiplayer game or any genre and very quickly one will realise our species is pretty well and truly fucked.

Back to RDRedmption.  Free Roam allows up to 15 human beings per “world” at a time.  If you join a game, there’s a good chance you’ll be offered recruitment straight away with an existing posse looking to build on it’s power base. In general, once you’re “in” it’s rare for any in-posse violence to break out.  Rare, but let me refer you to my earlier comment regarding the “relentless petty childish violence” of yooman beans.

I haven’t experienced multiple posses cross-co-operating, indeed it just seems like a struggle for land at times, with the most persistent managing to evacuate the outsiders from that particular area on the map or settlement.

One interesting experiment’s result was that of staying as a free agent and approaching other players in the game world: strolling up to a random human player, putting the guns away, saying “howdy pardner!” in a friendly (or demented) manner.

About half of the time you’ll get a buck-shot to the dome, but the other 50% is, well a little freakish!.  Players cautiously hiding in buildings, keeping distance, peeping out, guns drawn watching you without trust and with paplable fear.  But not always firing the first shot, or even a warning shot.  But you can just taste the fear.

Everyone in the game is one edge.  But you know that we never stop thinking about where our next “things” are coming from. *rocks back and forth*

Headset communication is based on map proximity, as well as what posse you may be in.  This is where you can state your intentions (or lack of them): putting your weapon away, saying hello and continuing on your way.  Whatever that merry way may actually be.  Even if that “way” is unknown to the third party: I could have been the game’s most ruthless and blood-curdlingly-exacting Black Knight “sparing” a weakling PC, for all they know.  I wasn’t, I was just on my way to collecting my next “thing”.

In the real lawless Wild West, this can’t be far from being a close cultural simulation;  the paranoia, the trustlessness and selfishness that must have come at that time (albeit here highly glamourised version for the silver / flat screen).

Killing isn’t designed to be the prime motivation in RDR as it is with most multiplayer shooters; although as we all know killing is often the prime motivation for human players regardless of how a game may try to “design” the culture otherwise.

Embracing this game’s culture and the primal motivations of Homo Sapiens, the Multiplayer Free Roam mode does offer us a slice of genuine wild west survivalism.

Choose survival as a “Black Knight” (genuinely seek out others and kill them over territory, regardless of the little XP or equipment gained; AKA “relentless petty childish violence” approach).

Choose survival to be a “White Knight” (concentrating on gang hide-out challenges while preserving the public and animal trust).  Like the Littlest HoboCop.

Choose survival as a “Green Knight”: a loner, an outcast, a castoff, concentrating on the flora and fauna challenges, while taking in the wonderfully recreated world, philosophising over the last Black Knight you had to kill because “it was either him or me, pardner”. *wink*

The feeling of having to look over your shoulder when you’re gathering herbs or killing coyotes is thrilling.  Death is everywhere: either from PCs or from animals.  This shit just feels right.  It feels wild.  It feels Wild West.  Wicky, Wicky, Thingy, Wild Wild Things.

Take this wonderful example:  Fellow gamer “Mutebot” and myself were indulging in a little team-hunting (hunthinging).  Hunting for brown bears to be exact, which is a little more scary than you might think.  Particularly scary when the challenge requires you to murder at least one brown bear using your hand knife.

Well all was good (click the picture on the left) as Mute “Still Standing” Bot and I pose for the post-hunt photo opportunity like the murdering lords we be.

Remember the bit earlier where I said, “The feeling of having to look over your shoulder when you’re gathering herbs or killing coyotes is thrilling; death is everywhere: either from PCs or from animals.” ??  Well, I’m glad you did, because WE casually forgot this statement while posing for the picture.

There’s a certain air of irony in Mutebot’s HUD gaming title of “Still Standing as, while posing for the camera, we failed to keep our eyes on the radar and were in fact crouching, with Mutebot to soon find himself flat on the floor….

The second photo (click it on the right) shows the result of this deep moment of relaxation.  A kind player character had sneaked up to see what the fuck we were doing, looked at the two hunting spastics with their two hairy trophies and proceeded to shoot Mutebot in the neck, just as I lined up the cover-shot for Guns & Ammo 1920 edition.

If you are out “thinging” for “things” just remember two “things”. Rockstar’s wonderfully recreated “West” is “Wild” and full of wonderfully retarded Humans, murdering and collected their way through the desert.

One of those horrid humans has just finished writing this article.  The other is lying face down in the snow; his mind too cluttered with “things” to have ever had a hope of saving him.


As a closing note do check out Thatguys’ comment on the RDR press saturation… “Red Dead Redemption: Social acceptability unlocked”?


One thought on “Pacificism in the Great West

  1. Cunzy11 says:

    They be some pretty synchronised dead bears.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: