So You’ve Played Red Dead Redemption 2 and Loved it: Be a gunslinger in real life, join the Cowboy Fast Draw Association

As much as I talk about other things, I am not completely lost like a lot of people my age might otherwise be on the magical world of video games and their relatively new impact on global entertainment. But let me just say to my usual readers, its big business. I finally finished the story mode of Red Dead Redemption 2 after around 100 hours of game play, taking my time when I could and I have to say that I was absolutely amazed by the result. The game is such an astonishing technical achievement and it is by far the best thing that could have ever happened to the entertainment format of the American Western. As a story and experience it really is like taking a real-life cowboy experience like the movie City Slickers and placing them into a 1960s spaghetti western with all the high drama of something like Game of Thrones. It is big, bold and beautiful in so many ways. And I knew that as I completed the game and all the epilogue missions that there was going to be a Red Dead online coming at the end of November. I planned to revisit the game at that time but wasn’t expecting much. But let me say that I have been pleasantly surprised. It looks like as massive as Red Dead Redemption 2 is as a game with sales well over a billion dollars already and something like 20 million copies sold before the Holiday season, that the purposed of the online play is to use the game as a kind of training experience for the online world that they have created. It is just vast and ultimately never-ending in what it allows players to do and interact with one another.

I couldn’t help but think as I was playing missions with other people the other day, most of them much younger than I am, that this game is really their only experience with a real American western and for many they are very touched by it. The game itself is a very moral story about good and bad and the many quandaries of the critical decisions that went into exploding life across the American frontier. But at its core it’s about gunfighting and is clearly one of the best arguments for the real-life problems of the Second Amendment. A lot of young people may not be paying attention to the real political problems going on in the outside world, but they sure care a lot about earning enough money in the game to purchase upgrades for their guns and dress in the coolest gunfighting outfits. But I couldn’t help notice that many of them probably didn’t know that they could do all the things they are doing in Read Dead Redemption in real life with Cowboy Fast Draw as seen at the following link:

http://www.COWBOYFASTDRAW.com

Belonging to the Cowboy Fast Draw Association is one of the groups I am most proud to affiliate with, they are really a good group of people who meet all over the United States to compete in real life fast draw competitions using real guns. It’s what I think of as one of the coolest sports in the world right now as other countries are trying to participate but have too strict of gun laws to actually do it. But in the good ol’ United States it is much easier to participate in. Yet I have noticed that most of the members are well over 40, largely because guns and holster rigs are expensive so it takes a little upfront investment to get involved. But once you do, it is infinitely rewarding. I enjoyed the original Red Dead Redemption enormously and getting my own fast draw rig was always something I had planned to do. But raising a family every last dollar that I made went into family needs, a car was always breaking down, a kid always needed a school fee or band instrument. Someone needed braces of a family member across the country wanted us to visit them, so there was always something for like twenty years that kept me from getting my own fast draw gun rig.

I ran across a substantial amount of money for a big job I had been working on so I treated myself to my gun rig and have been practicing at Cowboy Fast Draw for several years now, and am getting pretty good at it. After probably 30,000 to 35,000 shots at a fast draw target, I am starting to feel good about my speed and accuracy. It did take a while. It was something that had been on my mind well before I ever played the first Red Dead going way back into my twenties when I was going through a really tough time. Westerns and western music really kept the zest for life alive in me. On their most basic foundations westerns are about the meaning of life so they always had great appeal to me so when I grew up I wanted to be as much of a gunfighter as society could endure. Ironically, I had acquired my gun rig and some advanced fast draw skill before Red Dead Redemption 2 came out which had even more meaning for me because of the new hobby I had.

Traveling around the online world it has become very obvious that many young people are deeply touched by Red Dead Redemption 2 and likely would like to have a similar experience as I have. So let me put this little invite out there. If you are unsure of how to get involved in Cowboy Fast Draw because you are enjoying playing Red Dead Redemption but would like to take everything up a notch, don’t hesitate to ask me. I can help you get started on something that would be infinitely rewarding. While my regular audience here is much older than the people playing Red Dead Redemption 2 I would personally love to see more young people getting involved in Cowboy Fast Draw. It really isn’t any different from what you do in the game, but that it never ends. While the content of Red Dead Redemption does eventually run out, the challenges in real life never do.

In the Cowboy Fast Draw Association, you get to dress up as a gunslinger for real, and have a reason to do it. You have a reason to buy fancy guns for real and learn to take care of them. And the scoring format is safe and fun. Its one of the most satisfying things I’ve done in my life and I would recommend it to anybody. I had been thinking that membership in the cowboy sports may just flicker away because new generations just do not have many positive western entertainment venues that are cool enough to hold their attention, that is until Red Dead Redemption 2 came along and inspired millions of people to live in that world quite authentically. And for those who just want to climb into the world of Red Dead Redemption for real and live it in real life I’d point you to the Cowboy Fast Draw Association at the link shown here. If you have any questions, just ask. I’d love to help as many new people get involved in the sport as possible. While I personally love the world of Red Dead Redemption, it is no match for having a real fast draw rig on your hip which is an experience I have every day. And wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Rich Hoffman

Sign up for Second Call Defense here: http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707 Use my name to get added benefits.

Red Dead Redemption 2: Defining the meaning of an American

There are so many things to talk about, but I consider the new video game Red Dead Redemption 2 on the big console home game systems to be one of the most paramount issues of our day. Not just because I love westerns and video games, but because the story itself is really at the core of our modern world and the confusing philosophies that we contend with every day—is big government better or small. I’ve always loved the “Red” games as the producer Rockstar has published them over vast amounts of time. The first Red Dead Redemption came out in 2010, and its sequel just this recent year of 2018, so a lot of time, money and effort goes into these things and they are truly epic for any scope of entertainment venue. But as I was playing Red Dead Redemption 2 I couldn’t help but think a thought I had been thinking for a long time, that the game was essentially Game of Thrones only set in a western instead of some unidentified middle ages of Europe. The essence of the game is to ask the question, “what does it mean to be an American.” The conflict of the game is when many different sectors of society unleash their understanding compared with the natural human tendency toward greed and violence. The result is a very compelling story that could easily fill up several seasons of a Netflix drama.

You can tell that the game is upsetting the progressive elements of our present society, they have lots of problems with some of the themes of the game. Red Dead Redemption 2 is set in 1899 just as the progressive movement is getting underway. In the game there are random characters that you meet many whom are part of the suffragette movement. As a player you can choose to help those people or harass them and many players are picking up these screaming feminists and putting them on railroad tracks to be run over by an oncoming train. And the game is providing awards for those actions, so the real progressives in our entertainment culture have serious problems with that. Additionally, the character you play in the game, Author Morgan is in a gang as kind of the heavy. The leader of the game is a guy named Dutch who is essentially a socialist philosopher. I don’t like the guy but it is a very interesting experiment in the fallacies of socialism that his vision is being destroyed moment by moment in the game driving him to lunacy because he can’t get socialism to work without being a criminal element in the larger context of society.

I thought Rockstar Games went out of their way not to insult progressives as many of the storylines within the game treated them fairly. But as the player you decided how relevant they were or weren’t, and that is what has progressives so angry. By the end of Author Morgan’s story in Red Dead Redemption 2 I had my good meter tapping out as high as it could go. That is a meter you get for doing good deeds for people, and mine was as good as it could get. And it was rewarding to do good as opposed to doing bad things which many players might be tempted to do. The whole thing is a very interesting experiment in human behavior that I thought went well beyond any previous entertainment exploration, whether it be a novel, a movie or a television show. This form of story telling I thought was very revolutionary, and powerful. I wouldn’t go so far to say that it is the literary equivalent to a Dicken’s novel, but Rockstar Games put a lot of effort into the whole presentation that there really has never been anything quite like it anywhere yet. I think of it as I often do with these massive video games, like its taking a resort vacation to an exotic place. On my 70” 4K television with a Bose sound system, its easy for me to forget that I’m just in my living room. The world is vast and well rendered in Red Dead Redemption 2, almost to the point of ridiculousness. That makes investing yourself into the stories that much more compelling, and powerful.

And again, by the end of Author Morgan’s storyline anyway, with the good meter at the highest point, because the character and those he interacts with changes depending on that meter, Author came to the point of what being an American really was. The game sifted through all the various elements of turn of the century North America and found the real heart and soul of American life quite wonderfully. It was a shame that his realization came all too late, but the point of the game is the tapestry that everything is set in more than the lives of the characters. I found the whole thing extremely refreshing. Its one of those things that everyone who can find the time should endeavor to experience.

I have always been around guns, but the first time I played Red Dead Redemption back in 2010 I had not yet purchased or became involved in Cowboy Fast Draw. But at the end of that game I decided that when things called down for me in life that I would. A few years later when an open window came I took 2K and had a custom fast draw holster made for myself and I bought my Ruger Vaquero. Since then I have been practicing Cowboy Fast Draw almost every day and I have become proficient. That is important because I see the gun, especially the way it was presented in American westerns to be even more symbolic to the life of free people as the samurai sword is to Japanese society—which is saying a lot. I usually dig a lot deeper into things than most people do so the first Red Dead game was something that built on thoughts I had been having for a long time. By the time this new game came out, I had a very good understanding of what Cowboy Fast Draw was all about so it was even more meaningful to me to be able to go around that vast world and gun fight other characters. I think any player would find the experience meaningful but for me and the kind of things I do in real life, it was even more so. It’s a world you simply don’t ever want to end.

That is why I think there is real opportunity here. We keep hearing about all these socialists that have been trained in our public-school system and are now making moves into larger official government positions. And that is in a class with the Trump economy and there is a lot of consternation about what will happen as a result. But the social experiment has already been simulated in Red Dead Redemption 2. And the socialists, like Dutch in the game, have no choice really when confronted with reality. Now, not to give too much away because Red Dead 2 is actually a prequel to the first Red Dead, but Dutch eventually has to jump off a cliff to kill himself because his views of the world just don’t match the reality of a new American idea. People followed Dutch because he was intelligent and well read, but that couldn’t solve his basic problem with his corrupted philosophy. And in a very complex story about many, many people, somehow Rockstar Games hit the nail right on the head, and it is truly a remarkable achievement in art and entertainment. And one that carries directly over into the politics of our modern times, in haunting ways that were quite intentional. There were moments in the game that were like the climax of every movie I’ve ever seen, only in the context of this game, they were better.

Rich Hoffman

Sign up for Second Call Defense here: http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707 Use my name to get added benefits.

Red Dead Redemption 2: Playing in the future by exploring the great westerns of the past

When Red Dead Redemption came out many years ago, I said that it was one of the best westerns ever produced. As a video game by Rockstar, the company that made the title, it was an awe-inspiring effort that still holds up as one of the greatest games ever made eight years later. Other games that were benchmarks of open world simulation gaming have been titles that I’ve referred to such as Uncharted 4 for the PlayStation 4 console, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Nintendo Switch. I wish I had time to play everything because I really enjoy video games, but I only have time for a few that I consider to be exceptional and game changers. So when those types of games come out, I usually take some time to spend with them. And that was certainly the case when it came to the sequel to Red Dead Redemption called appropriately enough, Red Dead Redemption 2. The game has been on the radar for release for a long time, many years now but finally on October 26th of 2018 the game made release so I targeted time to spend with it for my own reasons. The game itself is a prequel to the previous story and is set this time in 1899, a period I am very interested in regarding American history. The result was just astonishing. It really is the closest thing to a real-life West World experience that anybody could hope to get. It is not a perfect simulated reality but as a player you can easily forget about the real world and find yourself living and breathing in that massive computer world complete to every detail including tree bark, flowers and insects. The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is fully alive with people and places set in the Old West and is just an amazing technical achievement not to mention some of the best writing for a western that I’ve ever experienced. It is truly an amazing achievement that is worth talking about.

But first there needs to be some context as to how powerful and popular video game sales are, especially for something like this. As a person I am well over the age of the average player so when my wife and I picked up our pre-ordered copy of Red Dead Redemption 2 at GameStop at Bridgewater Falls in Ohio at 9 P.M. on October 25, just hours before the official release at midnight I was met with a very large line that snaked out the door, down the sidewalk and down into the parking lot. I had just come off an important oversea call with some business partners and worked some political angles that were important for the upcoming election. On the very next night I would be at the Jim Renacci debate with Sherrod Brown at Miami University and mingling with the crowd there. During those conversations the talk wasn’t about the upcoming election for anybody under the age of 30, it was about playing Red Dead Redemption 2. But I didn’t get any weird looks for being too old to be at GameStop even though I can’t say that I had ever been to a video game release quite like this. One of my daughters used to manage a GameStop store and she’d tell me about these hot releases, such as happen with each new Madden game or Call of Duty. But this game, Red Dead Redemption 2 had been promoted for a long time as the game missed several previous release dates so people were very excited to see the result. My wife somehow managed to get us into group one on the pre-release so literally the moment we arrived we were called to the front of the line to pick up our copy and within a few minutes we were back home to start the 3 hour download of over 100gigs of information just to start playing the game. The game sold over 17 million copies during that opening weekend which accounted for nearly $800 million in sales. Compared to the average Hollywood movie, these video games are just destroying the traditional movie experience. These entertainment platforms are far more popular with young people than any movie and for good reason. I left that GameStop amazed.

It’s no secret that I love gunfighters and the basic morality of the Wild West period. I have always felt that there was something extremely optimistic about Wild West towns, that really beautiful moment in world history where individual liberty was free to dream and yearn for a better life as it matched up against the harsh realities of nature. The great things about westerns and the American historic period about gunfighters is that it was the culmination of a lot of philosophic thought crashing into an Asian culture in the American Indian that puts many of our modern problems into a correct context. And Rockstar Games has done something quite remarkable with Red Dead Redemption 2, they have paid honest homage to great classic westerns like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Magnificent Seven and High Plains Drifter and literally put video game players in those worlds not with a two-hour story but one that goes on for hundreds of hours. I have been taking my time with the game and am at over 100 hours and I still have a lot more story to get through as of this writing. I have been doing all the side quest which include taking up bounty hunting jobs, fishing, hunting, crafting various equipment improvements and generally exploring a massive western themed world from the high snow-capped mountains in the north to the plains and deserts of the lowlands. There is even a fictional town called Saint Denis which is a kind of New Orleans city complete with early versions of electricity that is fully realized and populated with people. For instance, just for fun I went into town on my horse and spent the entire night in a high stakes poker game, and I won a lot of money. The game play was just jaw dropping cool, and realistic. It was as close to an experience of actually sitting down at a table in Las Vegas is, yet the whole thing was set in an Old West environment as the sun set and rose again outside the windows. There are many little side activities in Red Dead Redemption 2 that a player could literally get lost in forever, if there was ever enough time in that sentiment.

The game is quite honest and eager to explore the clash of progressivism with the rugged concept of the American individualist and the amount of dialogue that was written and acted in this story by many random events is just staggering. There really isn’t any way to experience everything and to talk to everyone in just one playthrough of the game. Decisions made have consequences in the overall world so not everyone will be available to players based on what they do or say to other people. But the basic plot of the game guides you through a kind of participatory novel. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a story telling experience that is unlike anything ever produced, novel, motion picture or Broadway play. There are some very probing questions asked in the story that is explored with great depth that no western ever had time to fully contemplate. The attention to every little detail is just staggering and how they all randomly interact with each other only conjured in my mind that Red Dead Redemption was simply an early version of the HBO series West World. You really do forget that you are playing a game as a player, you are pulled into that world and living it.

At this point I still have a lot more to play, I probably won’t have it wrapped up as a story until after the Thanksgiving Holiday. Maybe even Christmas. If I put 14 hours a weekend into the game it will probably take another 6 weeks to finish, that is how big it is as a conceptional element. Players could blast through the story if they wanted probably in 60 hours or so, but for me, I want to live in that world of Red Dead Redemption. I personally love the time period and the optimism of the American frontier and this is the best way to experience it. Even in their worst elements, I consider the drunks, thieves and whores of the Old West to be much better people than our modern counterparts because there is an honesty in human endeavor that is evident in that time period that is lacking in modern life, so I am spending as much time there as I can. And if you are like me and like to play video games but don’t have time for all of them, if you had to pick, Red Dead Redemption 2 is the one to play. It is better than any Netflix series, any movie made, or long-standing network television program. It is modern entertainment in its best form yet and it is something to see. If this is how entertainment in the future will be, then we all have a lot to look forward to. One thing that is obvious about the makers of Read Dead Redemption 2 is that they love American westerns and they have somehow managed to put every one of them into the story of this new video game from the ugliness of criminal outlaws, such as the movie the Wild Bunch explored down to the innocence and honesty of Little House on the Prairie. It’s all there in raw and spectacular fashion and is an experience everyone should have at least once, no matter how old you may be.

Rich Hoffman

Sign up for Second Call Defense here: http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707 Use my name to get added benefits.