A hyper realistic and completely free western, the video game Red Dead Redemption 2 is a technical success and scriptwriting. His record sales prove it. But videos of players showing themselves to be beating and killing suffragettes create controversy over this “open world”. The Rockstar studio does not seem to fear for its reputation.

It took seven years to discover the sequel to Red Dead Redemption. Released October 26, this video game, which takes place in 1899, plunges the player into an open world of westerns. But by leaving a complete moral freedom to its players, Rockstar, the publishing company, must now face a bad buzz.

In this game, the player crosses the road of characters illustrating this period of change in the United States. He met suffragettes in particular, those women who campaigned for the right to vote and who won it in 1920.

But a few days after the release of the game, unexpected videos have blossomed on Youtube. There were players attacking these militant women. Some were beaten, others thrown at alligators or tied up at the bottom of a mine … the most “popular” of these videos, posted by youtubeur Shirrako exceeded 1.7 million views. Others accumulate hundreds of thousands.

In the comments, there are many anti-feminist remarks. Some thank Rockstar for allowing them to get rid of these ” boring feminists “, others regret that it is not possible to act in real life. At first, Youtube censored these videos arguing that its policy does not allow gratuitous violence. But faced with criticism of players, they have been restored but prohibited to minors.

Absolute moral freedom

The creators of the game emphasize that if the players have complete moral freedom, they must still pay the consequences of their actions. So by acting badly, vis-à-vis these women or any other character, the player will be more and more sought after by the authorities and bounty hunters will eventually eliminate it. A threat that is not enough to prevent this drift.

” This is a complex problem that applies to very detailed games and open universes, which give priority to the player’s choice.What is less complex (to understand) is that there is a pool of video game players who hate women and get on with it, “writes on twitter Emmanuel Cheeseberg, editor of the Motherboard tech website. Dan Hassler-Forest, media specialist at the University of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, is less nuanced: ” the possibility of hitting a suffragette is something that the studio deliberately chose to introduce into the game “.

The game’s specialists explain that it is precisely the absolute freedom that makes this game extraordinary. On the side of RockStar, we remain discreet on the controversy. If some hope that this controversy will damage the reputation of the studio, in fact, it is mainly involved in its promotion. This new album has already sold 17 million copies in eight days and will be the best-selling game in 2018.

Grand Thief Auto

In addition, the studio is accustomed to controversy. He is at the origin of the famous “Grand Thief Auto” (GTA) license. At the release of each version, the studio is systematically criticized for the violence of the scenario, the ambiguous moral choices and the presence of sex workers with whom the players can “interact”. Nevertheless, each release is a commercial success.

In France, in 2016, former Secretary of State for Digital Axelle Lemaire had launched a mission about sexism in video games. This industry, on which the Hexagon is at the forefront, benefits from tax credits and an aid fund. The minister and parliamentarians had threatened to deprive the studios that they would not put enough effort into the positive representation of women. But, in the absence of consensus, these projects did not succeed.

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