Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Ballad of John Marston

The story of John Marston is not an easy one. He is a gambler, thief, and murderer. At the same time he tries to be a farmer and family man in an attempt to atone and escape his past, yet his past comes back to haunt him. As his story unfolds, Marston's family has been kidnapped and he must kill his former gang members in order to free them. He proceeds to shoot, murder, and raise hell all throughout Mexico and Texas while trying to bring his former gang to heel. Along the way he meets interesting characters who help or cause more headaches for him, but He never loses sight of returning back home with his family and leaving the past behind. Marston finally reaches his goal, and shoots the man who was the closest thing he had to a father. Then his wife and son are returned to him, and he believes his past is laid to rest. He enjoys his home life and stresses to his son that he wants him to go to school and not become an outlaw. Things are great, and then in the blink of an eye, Marston is gunned down outside of his barn, going out in blaze of gunfire glory. Years later, his son, an outlaw now, guns down the men who murdered his father, and John, even in death is unable to escape his past and it's consequences.
You wont find the story of John Marston in any book for he is a character in the video game Red Dead Redemption and unlike in a book, you get to control him as his story unfolds.
John Marston
 Karen Traviss is a well known Science Fiction author and one of a growing number of authors who are venturing into the video game market. She was lead writer on the Gears of War game and continues to be an advocate for stories told by video games. Video games allow the player to become part of the story and control central characters that otherwise a reader could only follow on a page even if the destination were the same. For sure, many games can't be acknowledged for having a great storyline, (Call of Duty comes to mind) but some can be just as powerful as a written novel. Rockstar, which made Red Dead Redemption and the Grand Theft Auto games, is known for the powerful stories they tell through a game. The same can be said of certain MMOs where players have more ability to create, mold, and shape their characters stories. I have spent many hours tramping around Skyrim, and each time the missions available are the same, I have yet to play a character that goes through it the exact same way.
As we continue to push forward into the digital age, will video games replace the traditional novel? Only time will tell.


  1. It sounds like it should be a book..and would make for great reading. It might even make the best seller list ? but a video game is something different all together.

  2. Never really played RDR, but this is reflected in many MMO's, one that comes to mind is TES Skyrim. The choices made throughout the various quest lines impact the story of your character. It's reminiscent of those choose your path books I'm sure we all read as kids, but to a grander scale. You even have books to collect and read in Skyrim, further blurring the two medias into one grand one.

  3. When i think of an overall good game, I always think of RDR. I loved that game so much. i'm so glad someone brought it up because it's such a good thing to talk about. Everything about the game reads great story telling. The thing i remember most about it is the amazing music, in fact the song that sticks with me the most is the song that plays when you wander into mexico for the first time... idk if you'll remember that, but i sure do.

    I doubt that the video game will replace the novel, but i think they are becoming a real contender for genuine and respectable entertainment. I love video games like the Bioshock series and i feel as if their stories are also extremely powerful. Same can be said for The Last of Us. I hope that games can keep evolving and become a contender for mainstream entertainment among all kinds of people.

  4. I think my favorite part about RDR was riding out into the vast open spaces and watching the sunset and looking at the night sky. It was crazy just how beautifully rendered the environment was. It is similar to watching the Northern Lights in Skyrim and it is I think a large advantage to telling a story when you are able to see it right in front of you.