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Culture > Entertainment

Red Dead Redemption 2: Coping with Loneliness Through Video Game Worlds

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Coastal Carolina chapter.

Allow me to set the scene. It is March 2020, and you have just watched the South Carolina government give an emergency statement to the press, stating that you will not be returning to school for the rest of the year. Every morning is a drag of waking up in time for Zoom classes, sitting silently, staring at your teacher’s face for hours, and the days pass in a monotonous blur, marked only by the boxes holding your classmate’s faces disappearing, fading to blackness and into silence. Then, you turn on your PS4.

Dramatic cold open, I know, but trust me when I say there was very little that shone out of the darkness that was 2020. Of course, there were happy moments, especially being surrounded by family all the time. Still, I believe we can all relate to the statement that joy was very hard to find in the outside world, especially when it was unsafe to do much more than a lap around the neighborhood for exercise. I have always been a fan of video games, stemming from a childhood full of watching my dad play Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed on his Xbox. We loved playing Keflings together, and then I  got a pink DS for Christmas and it was over. I still have it to this day, along with my favorite game, Harvest Moon. Unfortunately, my original save was corrupted, but I somehow made more progress in the hours I spent grinding away in my youth than I have now with walkthroughs at my fingertips. I admire that little gamer gal!

The title of “favorite game” was soon usurped by the massive open-world game Red Dead Redemption 2, developed by Rockstar Games, the same company that produced GTA! I knew nothing about the Red Dead franchise going in, but the way the game opens thrusts you into the world, requiring you to pick up knowledge as you go rather than having to know all the lore. You don’t need to know anything to start, although it will enhance your experience. I have yet to play the first game, but I want to make plans to! 

Red Dead Redemption 2 truly has it all, from beautiful gunslingers (IMO), a great main character with a tragic story arc, incredible music, horses, all types of weapons, and more! I have never hunted in real life, but some of my favorite days were spent in game hunting deer and other wild game for skins, loading up my horse, and bringing them back to help feed the camp. I had a massive collection of custom tack, customized period-typical weapons, and wardrobe, and kitted out Arthur by the end of the game. The transformation he underwent (no spoilers!) physically hurt me, and I took a lot of screenshots documenting his journey as I progressed through the game. I accidentally discovered spoilers around the middle of Chapter Three, as I was naively holding out hope for a miracle. 

The characters are amazing, and taught me a lot about the Wild West at the time! They are much more developed than they were in the first game, considering that we get to spend a lot more time with them, along with more story missions and dialogue available with them! On top of that, the world is beautiful. I know a lot of people say they aren’t a fan of open-world games, but for me, this was the penultimate experience. One hundred percent completion became my goal, and I spent a total of seven days, fifteen hours, and twenty-nine minutes achieving that!! It became less about trophy hunting and more about sitting down and playing poker in Saint-Denis, scanning the skies with my binoculars for a specific type of bird, and pulling off an epic train robbery. The game world and moving within it became second nature for me, and it came at a perfect time when I couldn’t have those real-life experiences. I could race down the train track bridge trying to beat the oncoming train on my Arabian, all from the safety of my couch. 

It’s safe to say I will be a lifetime fan of the game, and of all the actors who brought the characters to life. I am holding out hope that the game gets an adaptation like The Last of Us, although, in an ideal situation, they at least keep Dutch (Benjamin Byron Davis) and Arthur’s (Roger Clark <3) actors. If you have never played RDR2, I would highly recommend it!

Carissa Soukup

Coastal Carolina '23

Carissa Soukup is an English major with a minor in Communications. Her hobbies are reading, listening to music, and brushing her cat. Her goal is to work in the publishing industry. She dreams of eventually living in a log cabin with several more cats after traveling the world.