With only two ambiguous promo pictures out, the game is already being pilloried as sexist and racist.Rockstar has a long history of creating controversial games by expanding player choice to cover great (and terrible) actions. They are constantly accused of racism and sexism simply by allowing players an untethered experience, which can lead to “problematic” situations.
This weekend Rockstar released two promo images which can only mean a sequel to their acclaimed Red Dead franchise is in the works. Red Dead Redemption was an open world Western, which provided some inspiration to HBO’s Westworld, where players could roam a cowboy themed landscape, wreaking havoc or fighting outlaws. The promo appears to be a nod at Magnificent Seven, with a silhouette of seven cowboys/bandits against a setting sun.
— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) October 16, 2016
— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) October 17, 2016
And with nary two ambiguous promo photos out, social justice warriors on Twitter are already offended by the prospect of a new game.
Oh look. Another Red Dead game. Maybe this time they won’t use the setting as an excuse to be horrifically racist and sexist. https://t.co/jQ83Ad6tCE
— Alex Cranz (@alexhcranz) October 16, 2016
Last Red Dead Revolver game rewarded kidnapping a woman, tying her to a railroad track, and murdering her with a train.
Just not into it.
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) October 17, 2016
— Punk's The Name (@i_am_a_punk) October 17, 2016
— JuntMonkey (@JuntMonkey) October 18, 2016
Red Dead Redemption included a social climate fitting of its 1911 setting. It’s strange that a game like Mafia III could be celebrated for its accurate portrayal of historical racism, while Red Dead is vilified for it.
The critiques also go against the expansive player choice that makes Rockstar games so great. Sure, you can put a woman in the way of an oncoming train — but you can also do it with a man, horse, whatever. The whole train tying scene is just a trope straight from old Western movies. Allowing players to replicate it just adds to the experience of reliving these films.
But of course Westworld the game has too many problematic choices to appease these people, and development will likely be ripe for controversy. Stay tuned.