Friday, December 3, 2010

Red Dead: Redemption and My Failures As a Parent

Before I take a weekend-long break from writing Avadon to spend a weekend with the family in my favorite place in the world, I wanted to talk about my latest gaming obsession.

Red Dead: Redemption

Since I'm an enormous fan of Rockstar's violent, objectionable sandbox games, and the only person you will ever meet who actually played Grand Theft Auto IV all the way to the end, I'm surprised it took me so long to get around to playing this. It's Grand Theft Auto, but in the old west. So instead of stealing cars, you steal stagecoaches! Instead of killing hundreds of Mexicans in fake L.A., you kill them in real Mexico!

What was more surprising, though in retrospect it should not have been, was how instantly attached my eight year old daughter became to the game the moment she caught an unlucky glimpse of me playing it. Of course, it makes perfect sense. This is a game where you own a horse, ride your horse, take your horse out into the brush, find wild horses, capture and tame wild horses, and make one of those horses your new horse.

So she wanted to play it. A lot. But it's a Rockstar game, with all of the obscenity, gruesome violence, and graphic sexuality that entails. (Along with an unusually high frequency of rape, which I don't consider an improvement.)

So I let her play the game, but only in sandbox mode. She got stuck early on in the missions, and I haven't helped her. Thus, the things she are exposed to while questing for horses are only damaging, not totally traumatizing.

Of course, when I walked into the living room yesterday, I saw her chasing down a pack of bandits and shooting them all in the back in an admirably businesslike fashion. Also, she is trying to hunt down every animal in the game. She'll say, "Daddy! I shot a snake! And an armadillo!" And she'll bounce up and down like the happiest little girl in the world.

So I either suck at parenting or am really fantastic at it.

Two Key Differences Between Red Dead: Redemption and Grand Theft Auto

In Grand Theft Auto, when I left my car to go on some dangerous mission and returned to it later with like eighty guys chasing me and a need to get away very quickly, I never found that my car was missing because it wandered off to eat a particularly tasty clump of grass a half a mile away.

In Grand Theft Auto, when I was peacefully driving somewhere, my car was never suddenly killed by a cougar, who then ate me.

I mean, sure, sometimes gang members would shoot at me, but this was never really a problem. Gangbangers with AK-47s are a walk in the park compared to cougars. Cougars are serious business.

Oh, and Some Shameless Self-Promotion

In October, we had our 15th anniversary sale, celebrating an alarmingly long time being in the business of writing Indie role-playing games. The sale was a huge success, one of the best sales we've ever had. As a result, and as a thank you to everyone who has been nice enough to keep us in business all these years, we are resuming the most popular part of the sale: the big discount on CD bundles. For the entire month of December, all of our Game Collections on CD are 25% off.


  1. Blast! I managed to purchase 3 different collections right between your October and December sales!

    Worth it, though.

  2. @Derek: Doh! That always happens when we run sales, and I always feel guilty about it. Thank you VERY much for the order!

    - Jeff Vogel

  3. I am tremendously relieved to discover that I am not the only parent who subscribes to the belief that age-appropriate content is for wimps. Though in my case it involved Firstborn, age 4, and a particularly violent episode of Ninja Scroll. So, after a couple of minutes of watching ninjas cut each other into pieces, he turns to me and says: "Someday I will know how to use a sword."

  4. I had exactly the same experience and similar solution with my 6yo and GTA IV. She came in the room while I was playing and immediately wanted to join in the fun/murder. I found a save game where no one was trying to kill me and had a decent car and just didn't show her how to attack people. I'm saving Planescape: Torment for when she is seven.

  5. Whoa, The Baby is *eight*? Time flies.

  6. What on Earth do you like about Vancouver?

  7. Yeah, having lived in the Vancouver area my whole life... Van isn't exactly a great city. After reading your previous posts about various world travel I'm rather curious what makes it your favorite place.

  8. Red Dead Redemption is an awful, awful game and still do not understand why it was ranked as highly as it is. Yes, it had an great story, and it is an awesomely expansive sandbox. However, it has hands down the worst controls that I have ever seen in a video game.

    After a while, I began to loathe doors. If you do not enter the door exactly right, you will never make it through. You will be hung on the corner, and any attempts to turn your character's body will overshoot the door and hang you on the opposite corner. Ofter times it would be easier to run far away from the door and come back at it for a second attempt.

    The cover system is equally horrible. In the Undead Nightmare expansion, you often find yourself up on roof tops trying to shoot undead. Except that if you are behind anything at all, you will find yourself aiming into the banister or other part of the building. You can only hit anything by sticking yourself on the absolute edge of the building behind no cover at all; and then the horrible movement controls cause you to fall off the building most of the time.

    When your character is in the open air, with no cover or buildings, it is absolutely fine. Which is why it is a fantastic hunting sim. But for everything else, the controls are unplayable.

  9. Vancouver has world class Chinese food, a truly amazing aquarium, and actual night life. The art museum gets a lot of excellent shows. It's a lot like Seattle, so it gives me the chance to go to a different Seattle, which I sometimes really like.

    If you don't care for it, fine. Your business. But the idea that it might be difficult to understand why I'd want to visit there makes my jaw drop.

    - Jeff Vogel

  10. With me it was my six-year-old daughter and Dungeon Keeper 2. She was fascinated by the fact that she could carve out an underground world and populate it with monsters that did her bidding ( long as they were paid and fed). She wouldn't play the campaign, choosing instead to stick to the sandbox mode and occasionally triggering a wave of "heroic" invaders. And yes, I too am going to hell for letting her play it. At least she never asked what the Maidens were doing in the torture room.

  11. No, no, no, Jeff. The proper response to vch was, "That's IT! You COCKY COCK! You'll pay for your crimes against humanity!"

    (Yes, I know, He was talking about Vancouver and not Toronto but I can't pass up a Scott Pilgrim reference.)

  12. @Viridian: Scott Pilgrim (movie and comic) is awesome. That is all.

    - Jeff Vogel

  13. All I can say is big cities of any name suck balls.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Honestly, I don't know how you can tear your kids away from Minecraft long enough for them to see any other games.

    @Walker: Getting stuck in doorways was a common problem in the old west. A mixture of horse-riding and chaps, I think.

    (eg. )

    Sorry - HREF comments look like they work, but don't when you click on them.

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  18. Minecraft rules...they say. Sorry no chanse lol

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