New Video Game Lets Players Hogtie and Murder Nuns
Rockstar Games has found a way to top itself yet again.
Like any sandbox-style game, it’s full of wide-open space where players can spontaneously live out their whims of heroism or villainy. The video below is a powerful demonstration of the later.
UPDATE: Sadly, mere hours after this essay went online, publisher Take 2 Games had YouTube pull an included video depicting a nun being hogtied, kidnapped to the desert and ground into bloody chunks under the wheels of a train. You’ll just have to trust me for the moment: Red Dead Redemption lets players do this. I’m sure more clips will spring up very soon as the game releases everywhere on Tuesday. As a substitute, I’ve embedded a trailer depicting many of the game’s female protagonists. Examples of the nun characters can be seen at the beginning and very briefly at the 00:45 mark.
(Another update: Now Live Leak has the nun-slaying video. Check it out, if you must.)
When players successfully kill another character in this way, it unlocks the “Dastardly” achievement for plus five gamerscore. While I’m not surprised they let outlaw gangsters throw hapless victims in front of trains (this is a western, after all), I am a little surprised they still give a score bonus after mercilessly killing a woman of the cloth.
GTA IV allows players to pick up a health boost by purchasing the services of a prostitute, then get their money back by murdering her … But, the nun is worse, I’ve got to admit.
Being a gamer (and jaded, at that), I’m kinda torn between declaring this funny or sad. I’m all for allowing this level of freedom in a virtual world, but with that freedom it becomes entirely up to the player as to whether something this horrid happens in their game. To my knowledge, there’s no actual mission to murder nuns (although Rockstar once assigned players to indiscriminately slaughter Haitians) — this is just a few twisted dudes inventing their own fun.
Sadly, that’s not what the mainstream press is going to latch onto if Red Dead Redemption becomes the most-talked about New Thing.
There’s plenty of design sensibility in the game development industry to legitimately prevent a player from going so far. The developers of Fable and Fable II, though they allowed players to become evil and lure villagers out of their homes into the dark temple to be sacrificed, blocked gamers from becoming a sort-of pied piper character, leading a caravan of unsuspecting children out of a city to their slaughter.
A similar type of roadblock was possible here — maybe the main character has a point of empathy for nuns or operates on his own twisted sense of honor, perhaps leading the avatar to simply object to doing something so corrupt.
The fact that he does not reveals Rockstar’s allowance for wholesale nun murder to be a very intentional decision. This also likely means that Red Dead Redemption offers an unprecedented level of freedom, hence the promise of nearly limitless play styles for creative gamers.
For the developers, this ethos of giving gamers the reigns will inevitability touch off massive sales. For the media (that’s me), it offers a nice piece of controversy to stick in a headline, ideally followed up by a rational discussion of this type of thing. Even without that discussion, Rockstar has effectively birthed a self-perpetuating publicity typhoon where everyone can benefit — politicians included.
Thank God it’s no longer 1998 and this isn’t The Matrix, or the whole entertainment industry might start wearing spurs and treating forced nun bondage like the new black.
Personally, I can’t wait for the totally skewed “Mass Effect treatment” by Fox News, where they’ll likely declare that Rockstar has made a game which encourages children to molest the clergy. Now that will be a priceless piece of footage.
Red Dead Redemption is rated “Mature”, for gamers 17 and up. If The New York Times is right (they called it a “tour de force”), it looks to be one of the year’s biggest games. Expect Rockstar’s latest opus to go on sale across North America for PS3 and Xbox 360 later this week.