Last week, Rockstar Games revealed the third trailer for the long anticipated and oft delayed “Red Dead Redemption 2.” Many in the game press and community were impressed with the visual impact of the trailer and the stunning graphics of the various cut scenes that the trailer highlights, noting the attention to detail and cinema like qualities – qualities that also revel in the mythic images and Hollywood tropes that plague this style of game, making players complicit in the reinforcement of Turnerverian ideals. The game’s trailer does what countless other westerns, both contemporary and those dating back to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, do: they stage a West that blends both history and myth together in a way that for the player/observer legitimates Manifest Destiny, elevates violence as a marker of masculinity, celebrates the triumph of civilization over savagery, and equates both with the extension of freedom over untamed frontier. And like the creators of the westerns that came before, Red Dead’s developers see no hypocrisy in lamenting the passing of this era and the emasculation of white men at the hands of the same civilizing processes they celebrate. In the trailer, Rockstar both celebrates the mythic West that purportedly redefined masculinity and brought civilization and modernity to the frontier while simultaneously mourning its passing.Read More
Welcome to the Center for History of Video Games and Critical Play's Blog. This space is dedicated to publishing work that encourages gamers, scholars and students to consider how video and other games offer unique ways of looking at history and history pedagogy, the interpretation of games, game play, and the impact of games on culture. In doing so we hope to create a space where we engage in an academic conversations that focus on representations of history and historical narrative in both World and American histories through a variety of video and tabletop games. The work here will investigate the assumptions that guide such representations of history and analyze the extent to which the medium of history-themed video games can bring new questions and perspectives to academic history and history education.