Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Red Dead Redemption

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 15 Jun 2010 12:00
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A dog is basically a retarded wolf.

That's the sum of it. A dog raised in a domestic setting is stuck permanently in the mind of a puppy. It will never need to be taught how to bring down an elk or go for a trapper's bollocks; all its food will be handed to it and it will spend all its time dozing, rolling around playing with the other puppies and occasionally doing tricks for Beggin' Strips. Humans rob a once-proud beast of its pubescence.

But you can't say we're hypocrites, because we do the exact same thing to ourselves. The majority of modern man, more so than in any other age, remain mentally stuck in childhood for most of our lives.

Our food is no longer to be found twitching and bleeding on the end of our mighty spear, but conveniently provided on any street corner. Most of our time is spent dozing (watching TV), doing tricks (filing TPS reports) for doggie treats (paychecks), and of course, playing. Our wailing demands for shiny red toy firetrucks and chocolate-covered Ritalin have transformed over time into splurging on shiny red sports cars and hiring nice whores with lovely bologna vises to rub up and down on King Sausage of Underpants Land. Modern man is to the gun-toting wilderness-taming ubermensches of the Old West what a dog is to a wolf. A retard with a sparkly collar.

The videogames we mature, sophisticated adults enjoy all have their roots in the toys we enjoyed when we were good little crotchlings. Every kind of videogame bears the hallmarks of a particular kind of toy. Shooters are your GI Joes. An adventure game might be a nice big story book. Real time strategy games evoke a battalion of green plastic warriors on maneuvers through the sandpit to Mount Cat Turd (and here we most emphatically do not bring up 3DO's Army Men franchise).

Then there's Red Dead Redemption. And I have a very clear image in my mind of its toy equivalent. It's one of those things you give to toddlers, that as far as I know are still rather stuffily classified as "Activity Centers." It's got a bar with some cubes threaded onto it, a bell, a big red thing that squeaks when you press it, and usually a little mirror you can look in and gurgle happily at your fat idiot toddler face. A collection of various different elements that affect each other only in the sense that they're all attached to the same vaguely teddy bear-shaped mass of plastic. Red Dead Redemption is a big bucketful of toys that each exist only for their own sake with little connectivity, a big Christmas stocking containing a deck of cards, a dartboard, a selection of hats and a copy of National Geographic.

So, you might well ask, what toys did I play with as a child, besides the sharp knives and polythene bags, that makes me sniffy of such entertainment? Well, I've blocked out most of it as some kind of defense mechanism, but I think I must have enjoyed playing Mouse Trap. That wonderful sense that every gradual step you take builds towards something awesome (if you played the game properly which frankly no-one did), before the final glorious moment comes and the little man misses the tub or the cage gets stuck. So I prefer a game experience to be an actual game, with rules and risks and rewards and interconnectedness. Red Dead Redemption is a paddling pool. That doesn't necessarily condemn it. You don't always want to come home after a long day at work and do five lengths of the breast stroke, but I ask for more from a game than just paddling about.

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