I was never much into Westerns. Cowboys and Indians didn’t really appeal to me and I didn’t have much desire to go about reading novels from that genre. That was all changed when I was coaxed into purchasing Red Dead Redemption 2.
I had never played the original Red Dead Revolver or Red Dead Redemption but I knew they were made by Rockstar Games, the same company that made my favorite series, Grand Theft Auto. I only knew they were games set in the old West. After pondering it for quite a while (not really, only about a month after the release), I decided to give RDR2 a go. I was not disappointed.
The game is amazing. It exceeded my every expectation and gave me days upon days of playable story, adventures, and discovering little hidden gems in the game. I thought I wrote a blog about RDR2 but after searching, realized I mentioned it in a short post when I was 25% into my first play through the game so I will write a more in-depth blog about the game itself at a later time, just know it was one of the best I’ve ever played and impacted me greatly.
Red Dead prompted me to not only rewatch Mel Brooks’ classic, Blazing Saddles, but also to look more into the Western genre. What drew me to it was the simplicity of life which moved at a slower pace. You didn’t have constant connection to people. You only received the news by reading about it in the paper once per day or weekly or by word of mouth. People weren’t hellbent on becoming famous but on working hard and making something of themselves. You didn’t have emails and notifications blowing up your phone, you only had your friends and family around you to keep you company and make the days go by. I grew up and still live in Chicago so I’ve always been around busy people and the busy way of life. An era where things were slowed down, towns were smaller, and everything was simpler is intriguing to me.
After playing halfway through RDR2, I remembered my dad had some western novels hidden in my house somewhere and found a couple of them, all by famous Western novelist Louis L’Amour. I read one of the novels and while it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, it did open me up to a new genre that I hadn’t considered before and I went searching for more of the books. Now I have a stack of them to read. Reading about the wide open country at your feet, the wind in your hair, and nothing but what you and your horse could carry is a freedom that is hard to imagine in today’s age. The unpolluted air, the tall untouched grasses and land, the vast expanse of Earth that has yet to be explored, it’s all rather intoxicating to someone who grew up in a city where nothing is left unviolated.
I wouldn’t say westerns are my favorite genre by any means, but they do offer a retreat to a simpler time. If Red Dead Redemption became a novel, I would want to live in it as a character. I searched all over for novels similar to that of RDR2 but came up wanting. This story was phenomenal, well-written, and the protagonist of Arthur Morgan couldn’t have been a better character. His development was astounding and being able to play as him and see how everything unfolded and how he changes was so well-done by Rockstar, when the conclusion of his story came, it made me want to cry. Easily the best game protagonist I’ve ever played as.