This morning Rockstar Games posted an image of their logo on a red background. This can only mean one thing: Red Dead Redemption 2 will probably be announced soon. For those who did not play the first Red Dead Redemption, it was an open-world game in the vein of Rockstar’s flagship Grand Theft Auto series, but set in the that wildest of Wests. This could not come at a more appropriate time: HBO’s new hit show Westworld is about a terrifying corporation running an ultra-violent ultra-sexual Western-themed game world. The narrative director character Lee Sizemore (played by Simon Quartmerman) could easily be seen as a synthesis of Rockstar’s own Houser brothers (plus a good dash of the recently-ostracized Leslie Benzies). Twitter has certainly noticed the correlation between the two endeavors.

This begs the question: how far can we take the cognitively dissonant act of simultaneously partaking in—and critiquing—ultra-violent entertainment? Westworld certainly seems to satirize the very thing that has made HBO so incredibly successful at redefining the entertainment landscape: increasing the shock factor so as to match our growing desensitization to depictions of mass murder, rape, and torture. This isn’t to say that I am decrying the trend, instead choosing to draw attention and awareness to its fascinating evolution. Going through airport security recently, I had the surreal realization that the x-ray trays were being used to advertise Netflix’s Narcos, a television biopic about the most famous drug smuggler of all times. Similarly, I was recently reading an article about drone strike ‘kill lists’ under the Obama administration and accidentally clicked on the advertising, which shuttled me to the App Store page for Mobile Strike. We live in a world where the boundaries between reality and entertainment are blurring at a rapid pace (and other such platitudes). Anyways. Stay tuned for more news about Red Dead Redemption 2.

Update:

Rockstar Games has released a statement:

Red Dead Redemption 2 will release worldwide in Fall 2017 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One systems. An epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland, the game’s vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience.

Watch the Red Dead Redemption 2 Trailer at 11AM Eastern on Thursday, October 20th at rockstargames.com, as well at the official Rockstar Games YouTube and Twitch pages.

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