May 19, 2010

Red Dead Redemption: Increase Your Gamescore For Violence Against Women

I play video games, but I’m picky.  As a huge fan of Deadwood, I was excited when I learned about the release of Red Dead RedemptionGrand Theft Auto in the Wild West, stealing horses instead of cars.  Like a video game version of one of my favorite television shows.  And then yesterday, I learned of a hidden achievement in the game, and
all my excitement and anticipation was flushed down the toilet.

In trying to pay homage to the classic westerns of yesteryear, where women were tied up on train tracks by a cartoon-y villain with a handlebar mustache, the game offers an achievement for tying up a woman and throwing her onto a set of train tracks.  Except there’s no hero to save the day and untie her before the train comes, the points
are only awarded if you stand and watch as you let her be run over.  It’s unfortunate that they made the achievement gender specific.  Why couldn’t it have been a man or just a person?  Rock Star Games does not exactly have a stellar record when it comes to females in their video games – most in the Grand Theft Auto series are prostitutes, drug addicts, victims, and strippers.  While they were a little better in Red Dead Redemption – it’s a woman who saves the main character in the intro and women are shown talking about religion and politics in the opening credits sequence, they negated the little good they did by offering five measly gamer points for violently assaulting and killing a woman.

Youtube is already filling up with videos of gamers recording themselves getting the “Dastardly” achievement.


  1. Hello Melanie,

    You answered your own question; the achievement is an “homage to the classic westerns of yesteryear.” Sorry to break it to you, but most westerns were male-centric and you will be hard-pressed to find many silent films where a man is tied to the train tracks. Deadwood was sexist more than a few times, but you still consider yourself a “huge fan” of the show.

    All this being said, I sympathize with your feelings but if the “dastardly deed” achievement is the only reason that you are offended by Red Dead Redemption, something is wrong WITH YOU. The game, accurate to the times, refers to Jewish people, the federal government, Native Americans, Mexicans, etc… in an offensive tone. My advice is to you is get over it, enjoy this amazing achievement in video game entertainment and take in the “offensive elements” with a grain of salt.

    The USA was offensive in 1911- woman got the right to vote 9 years after the events of Red Dead Redemption- why would you want Rockstar to portray it any different?


    Comment by Sympathy for The Devil — May 21, 2010 @ 10:03 am

  2. Hi,

    I’m actually the one who wrote the post.

    I’m aware that sexism was portrayed on Deadwood, and when womens suffrage happened. There are plenty of other sexist, racist, anti-government, violence against women things in Red Dead. (Despite my annoyance at “Dastardly” I am currently playing through the game, and like it so far.) The point is that you are not rewarded for it.

    And as I stated in my post, in those old timey westerns, there was usually a hero to save her before the train came.

    Comment by Rachel — May 22, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

  3. […] you can imagine, this achievement has been heavily scrutinized as an example of misogyny.  As a feminist I share in these concerns and believe it is about time […]

    Pingback by “Dastardly” Achievement has Interest Groups Seeing Red — May 23, 2010 @ 11:02 am

  4. Hello Rachel,

    I have reservations about the inclusion of this achievement as well. There is a part of me, perhaps instilled by so many anthropology classes beating “cultural relativity” into my head, that would like to make excuses for it. There is the general narrative crux of the fact that to control the story they give you no choice over the gender of your character (a tradition for the series) and how that defines the victim here with a preset system of shared references. There is the goal of trivializing the act by admitting it to be completely secondary to the gameplay and that making it a “secret achievement” removes it until the game is over and you’re doing optional clean-up. There is the…

    Let’s face it. It’s a game that offers a tangible reward for an act of violence against a woman. It was clearly designed to manufacture headlines and web-stir to boost opening month sales for a company that has underperformed for three quarters now. It was a cheap stunt.

    The curious (demented) aspect of the challenge– the idea that you must witness the death– that is them planning their escape route beforehand to limit damages. They are seeking to build a comparison to the recent Modern Warfare 2 slaughter at the Russian airport where you were forced to walk slowly through the devastation you could not stop and were forced to engage in at some point. The two events are completely different from one another in tone and context and I doubt anyone will fall for it, but don’t be surprised if you read that on the AP sometime soon.

    I was very excited about the lead up to this game and have heard raving reviews online and from friends, but I’m still not sure if I can look past this bit of insensitive flame-goating.

    I shared these sentiments briefly on my own blog, but the structure of it being a humor site led to a quick digression of theme. It feels nice to express the rest of it.

    @KC Actually, the first example of the “tying someone to the railroad tracks” appeared in a play entitled “Under the Gaslight.” And surprisingly it was a woman saving a man. Further examples solidified the switch in gender roles and the film serials “The Perils of Pauline” cemented it in broad awareness.

    Comment by Shane — May 23, 2010 @ 11:58 am

  5. I definitely found it a bit weird that this achievement was gender-specific. It’s not like it matters, the fun is in putting someone on the railroad tracks.

    Comment by Petter — June 2, 2010 @ 7:40 am

  6. […] Comments Sophie on Body Image: A Personal StoryPetter on Red Dead Redemption: Increase Your Gamescore For Violence Against WomenKarla on Pretty pushed on laboring women Archives Select Month June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 […]

    Pingback by Feminist Fatale » Violence Against Women:The Clothesline Project Video — June 2, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

  7. omg its just a virtual world…jus have fun playing…dont like it dont buy it

    Comment by nic — July 3, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

  8. Shane’s response is just idiotic and I won’t waste time on going into how it is

    The point is, it’s a reference. In Red Dead Redemption, you’re the “bad guy” in the eyes of the law. No hero to come rescue the damsel in distress. And why get a REWARD for it? That’s the only way it would be a reference. They weren’t going to include it in the story because it would be corny.

    Comment by Jordan Dunnuck (bro) — June 22, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

  9. I think the blunt truth is that guys that enjoy it harbor varying degrees of dislike for women, particularly because they lost us as cheap slave labor/sexual convenience when we were given the rights to live like human beings. The majority of men in history aren’t really known for a live and let live attitude….so this game is no shock…but the fact that so many men still haven’t been raised to think differently or with strong morals is…especially those who think there’s nothing wrong with them enjoying a reward for tossing a pixelated woman on train tracks and watching her explode into bloody bits. People think it’s funny, it’s just a game, but women’s rights are not a sealed deal, so it’s not funny to me. Just like witnessing a castration wouldn’t be funny to a man even if it was fake. But who cares, right? Some people shouldn’t be breeding, or maybe some women in the house should be calling more shots and taking their sons by the hand. Many of hese guys still think violence against American women is OK because we “enjoy” our rights, but extreme Islamist treatment of women is barbaric. How tragic.

    Comment by SCLA — July 5, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

  10. Thank’s for the heads up… It will be a factor in weather or not I add this title to my game shelf.

    I’d just watched the ‘far away’ sequence of the ride into Mexico and was fairly impressed. Nice music, nice environment… and I really love open world game play… but it had escaped my notice though that the makers were the same idiots who make Grand Theft.

    I’ve also been a big fan of Deadwood.. Dexter… Game of Thrones… film makers like Quentin Tarantino… so I’m not exactly squeamish.

    I don’t mind giving players the option to play evil characters as long as developers are smart about it… in fact it can bring interesting nuance in regards to the subjective… but it pisses me off when it’s forced on the player in order to progress in the game, or when a game achievement is denied to a player unless they do something abhorrent. It especially pisses me off when women are singled out for this abuse. The fixes for this issue were boundless.

    So the question is… are these game developers the kind of idiots who think violence against women is fun and entertaining and a great way to make money… or are they the kind of idiots who think it’s smart business to alienate more than 50 percent of the population in exchange for a little free publicity…

    I may be in the vanguard, as a female gamer… and believe me I’ve put up with a lot of male centric tedium over these many years, especially the puerile and the adolescent… but there are limits…

    Female players are increasing in numbers and they aren’t all playing ‘happy bubble town’ on facebook or ‘strawberry kitchen joy’ on the DS…

    Comment by USDeb — December 24, 2012 @ 11:33 am

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