Ah, Red Dead Redemption… one of my great loves. I’ve certainly talked about this game a great deal, as you know, but today I wanted to write about something a little bit different.
It seems that folks who play games online are often a very angry bunch. If you’ve ever played video games over the Internet before, you may have come across these blokes. They usually like to express their superior playing ability in fun and exclamatory ways, all the while insulting their opponent’s sexual identity and mother. And, just in case you weren’t listening, they do us all the favor of repeating these kind words over and over as they shoot anything that moves.
Basically… they’re idiots.
I used to occasionally deal with these “killers” in a judicial way – punishing them for unnecessary harassment, but that’s not really my style. Sure, when I was playing constantly I was better than most folks I came across… but that’s not very Mark. I learned, long ago, that the best way to defeat someone isn’t by meeting their challenge, it’s by doing the opposite of what they’d expect – and that usually means being insane ;).
Insanity only has value, though, if it’s for an audience.
So, what does that mean? Well, if we’re talking about the “opposite” in a game of killing, we’re talking about non-violence. Since I first started playing the game online, I’d never take the first shot on a stranger. Sure, I’d have no problem throwing a knife into Justin’s head, but we understood each other. With folks I didn’t know, though, I’d often get shot just for approaching them. No problem… I’d just return, again, with no weapons out. I’d jump and push the button that makes my little character say hilarious things. I showed that I was not a threat. Sometimes people got it and jumped, too, and we went on our merry way… them, perhaps, being a little wiser next time.
Sometimes people shot me in the face as I jumped.
But I don’t care. There’s no penalty for death, and I certainly put no personal pride into my online status of a video game. So, I just keep jumping. That, rather quickly, gave way to the very topic at hand… performing. You should all know that I enjoy entertaining. This site wouldn’t be here if I didn’t, and I wouldn’t be pursuing acting. These things are also cathartic, and I enjoy them myself, but it’s ultimately about the audience. So, what do I do in Red Dead Redemption? I don’t kill other players in the free roam area, sure… but now I make a point of it to make it entertaining.
The perfect example, and what made me think of writing this, happened a number of days ago. I was playing online with Justin, and we came into town where two groups of people were fighting each other. I was in a very passive mood, as I usually am now with this game, so I didn’t want to fight. So, I died. But that didn’t stop me… I’d just keep walking around the town, slowly, talking and occasionally skipping. I was a fat, little Mexican man casually strolling through a massive gunfight – and the absurdity of that is what entertains ME. In this case, though, I was treated to a verbally appreciative audience.
Most of the players had microphones, and eventually started talking about “that guy who just keeps walking around not shooting anyone.” One of the players kept laughing whenever he came across me, and they were talking about how confusing it was. How.. insane. Now, I wasn’t exactly left alone – I couldn’t tell you how many times I died over the 30-60 minutes we were playing (there may not even be a number for it), but it didn’t matter. Video games are fun, and the players who couldn’t enjoy my performance and only thought it appropriate to shoot me whenever they could… they sadden me, because they are missing out on a great show. Because, that’s what it is – performance.
I think it’s hilariously strange to talk about PLAYING a game as an art form, and yet, that is what I do. As with anything I undertake, I’m dedicated. If I’ve established that I will skip and play through a violent town shootout, I won’t suddenly turn and kill someone – that’s dishonest, not only as a player… but as an artist. Some don’t seem to care and kill me anyway. Many others do that, but after awhile come to a very confusing conclusion of not having ANY idea what I’m up to, but being okay with it… and they leave me alone. Sometimes, though, I’m lucky enough to find those who “get it” and may even join me in the absurdity. After leaving the session on the night I mentioned, I sent a message to the one guy that was laughing and seemed to enjoy it the most, saying,”Out for a stroll… glad to have entertained.” I take to Joker’s mantra of “Why so serious?” because that’s how I feel about so many things. It’s a funny world we live in, and while not everything has to be silly all of the time (and you should know that about me, too, very well), I like going online and sharing that outlook on the world with a bunch of strangers. That’s the goal of most any art – to connect with an audience. And, of course, I have an absolute blast in the process… laughing at the madness of it all.
So, if you’re ever playing a game online, and you suddenly see a character going against the norm and just having fun, without harassing or killing others, pay attention. They may very well be doing it just for you :).