Red Dead Redemption
History, Myth, and Violence in the Video Game West
The Popular West
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
240 Pages | 6 x 9 | 4 B&W Illus.
Drawing on game studies, western history, American studies, and cultural studies, the authors train a wide-ranging, deeply informed analytic perspective on the Red Dead franchise—from its earliest incarnation to the latest, Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018). Their intersecting chapters put the series in the context of American history, culture, and contemporary media, with inquiries into issues of authenticity, realism, the meaning of play and commercial promotion, and the relationship between the game and the wider cultural iterations of the classic Western. The contributors also delve into the role the series’ development has played in recent debates around working conditions in the gaming industry and gaming culture.
In its redeployment and reinvention of the Western’s myth and memes, the Red Dead franchise speaks to broader aspects of American culture—the hold of the frontier myth and the “Wild West” over the popular imagination, the role of gun culture in society, depictions of gender and ethnicity in mass media, and the increasing allure of digital escapism—all of which come in for scrutiny here, making this volume a vital, sweeping, and deeply revealing cultural intervention.
“Video games like the Red Dead series have supercharged the significance of (re)imagined Wests and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Like the amply filled satchels and saddle bags of Red Harlow, Arthur Morgan, and John Marson, this collection has you covered, delivering an exquisitely intersectional range of scholarly work on a paradigm-shifting addition to the Western imaginary in the 21st century. Saddle up, pard! Your trail to exploring video-game Wests should start here.”——Stefan “Steve” Rabitsch, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Oslo, co-founder of the European Association for American Studies “West of the Rest” network
“This volume is a timely intervention that explores one of the biggest historical game franchises through a myriad of lenses that demonstrate the complexity and impact of the games and the discourses from which they draw. In their careful arrangement of the book, Wills and Wright have shown how video games, and in particular Red Dead, are the new frontier for the ongoing construction of the historical West in both the US and international imaginary.”—Adam Chapman
“This collection provides a wide-ranging treatment of Rockstar’s Red Dead franchise. The essays here offer serious meditation on a persistent fascination with the mythic West in the popular imagination. Overall, a valuable contribution to the growing field of contemporary (and historical) game studies.”
—Matthew Carter, Senior Lecturer in Film at Manchester Metropolitan University and author of Myth of the Western: New Perspectives on Hollywood's Frontier Narrative.
View the Table of Contents from Red Dead Redemption