Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century

I Know You

Though hardly accepted as an art from, video games have a unique story telling format that enables them to push concepts on the player in ways that few other mediums allow. Included in Rockstar Games’ 2010 opus Red Dead Redemption, is a baffling set of optional missions where the player encounters a mysterious stranger who seems to know more than he lets on. The stranger tasks John Marston (the player) with attending to various tests of seemingly black and white morality. They amount to nothing more than encouraging or discouraging a man to cheat on his wife and choosing to offer an old nun some money to restore a man’s faith. As you progress further into the game, you begin to question the motives and nature of the stranger and his odd quests for the player. The stranger intentionally avoids revealing his name or motive to the player and eventually begins to take on almost supernatural levels of knowledge about Marston’s past.

Speculation after the game’s release has run wild in regards to just who or what the stranger is supposed to represent in relation to the rest of the game. Many players come to the conclusion that the stranger simply represents a rudimentary form of a Christian God due to his specially worded responses to Marston’s queries but the game never makes the characters intentions clear. The stranger clearly possesses otherworldly powers (eg. he isn’t affected by bullets) but he is cast as a character who makes decisions that are decidedly neutral to the player. The player, in fact, is left with the choice of whether or not he should choose to make a good or evil decision based exclusively on the player’s impulses. Regardless of just what the stranger is supposed to represent in the game world, the stranger remains a popular enigma and a fascinating look into the possibilities of modern game design.

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