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Monday, Jun 28, 2010
From New Austin to Nuevo Paraiso, we explore the motives and personalities that make up the plot of Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption.

Last week Nick, Tom, and Rick discussed the world and game play of Red Dead Redemption in a spoiler-free episode.


This week, Chris is back with the posse, and we delve into the storytelling and overall plot of Red Dead Redemption.  We look at the motives of John Marston, as well as those of the cavalcade of characters that make up Rockstar’s western. Spoilers abound, so consider yourself warned.


This podcast is also available via iTunes.


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Friday, Jun 25, 2010
The first level of Indigo Prophecy represents the Holy Grail of branching narratives.

Inspired by L.B. Jeffries’s post last week (“Plot Twist Overkill in Indigo Prophecy, PopMatters, 15 June 2010), I replayed a fair bit of Indigo Prophecy, and as much as I enjoy the game, his critique of it is spot on. The game’s narrative downward spiral is infamous amongst the gaming community, and it stands as a powerful reminder of what not to do with a game’s story. However, the reason that its ending is so confusing and so infamously bad is because it has such a strong beginning. The first level of Indigo Prophecy represents the Holy Grail of branching narratives; it presents you with a problem and gives you a variety of ways to solve it. However, every choice has obvious pros and cons. Unlike most games with branching paths, there isn’t a “best” choice given the situation. The game’s lack of direction in telling us what to do and our own lack of certainty regarding what we should do make the opening scene of Indigo Prophecy one of the most memorable moments in gaming.


Tagged as: indigo prophecy
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Thursday, Jun 24, 2010
This game tells the part that happens after "The End".

The first time that I had to herd cattle in Red Dead Redemption I hated it. The first time that I had to break a horse I thought it was stupid. Riding along in a wagon, listening to someone talk while traveling to the mission site was a mixed bag—sometimes interesting, sometimes boring or indulgent. I loved this game, but those were the moments that had me groaning out loud and muttering my traditional “I hate you” mantra at the game over and over until those cattle got into the damnable corral, which makes it all the more amazing that the best part of this game and the moments that I’ll hold with me for the longest time were largely doing all the things that I hated in the beginning.


I’m going to go ahead and say it. I think that the final act of Red Dead Redemption is one of the great storytelling achievements in video games. I think that it uses the tools that are unique to games to present the player with an emotionally satisfying experience that I can’t remember ever having experienced in any kind of entertainment. Part of the magic here is that the game takes its time doing it. There’s nothing rushed about this final act with it’s homey pacing and everyday concerns replacing the constant mass murder that makes up most of the game’s missions. It is, I think, a daring decision in many ways, and it runs counter to how traditional stories (both in games and other media) pace themselves.


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Wednesday, Jun 23, 2010
While we seemingly get lots of choices in a game about how we get from place to place, how to kill enemies (and with what weapon), and even how we make moral decisions, when the game prompts us we usually get down to doing what it tells us to do.

“For whom is the funhouse fun?”
—John Barth, “Lost in the Funhouse”


About four months ago, I wrote an essay entitled, “How Games Challenge the Tyranny of Authorship”. (“How Games Challenge the Tyranny of Authorship”, PopMatters, 17 February 2010).  This discussion is intended to be a companion piece to that essay, so if you’re interested in the topic, you may want to check out the aforementioned link before reading this one.  Or, check it out afterwards.  Do what you want.  I don’t want to force you into anything.


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Tuesday, Jun 22, 2010
Does this Grand Theft Auto-influenced open world Old West extravaganza live up to its gaming pedigree? Or does it maybe exceed all expectations?

This week we’re a man down, but there’s no stopping us now that we’re hot on the trail. Nick, Tom, and Rick take on the world and game play of Red Dead Redemption in this spoiler-free episode. Does this Grand Theft Auto-influenced open world Old West extravaganza live up to its gaming pedigree? Or does it maybe exceed all expectations? Or does it depend on who you ask? As always, we don’t all quite agree, but we’ve all got a lot to say about the world of Red Dead Redemption.


This podcast is also available via iTunes.


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