According to David J. Leonard, “Systemic racism is the most dominating controller inside and outside of virtual reality, a world produced by the White male-dominated video game industry” (Leonard, 141). Mainly, once the virtual world in video games is critiqued, systemic racism, heteropatriarchy, and violence against women and Black people are used as entertainment and thus contribute to the axes of oppression and erasure that marginalized folks and communities experience. As a queer person and casual video gamer, the violence, harm, and systemic oppression viewed and experienced in video gaming are unavoidable, even more so in the online chat that occurs through gameplay as well. While Leonard primarily discusses Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) since then, games such as Red Dead Redemption 2, another release from Rockstar gaming creates a similar virtual world that does not challenge white-male dominated gaming and society. Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2) is another Rockstar series where the “othering” of marginalized people and communities are efforts that maintain power and control or frankly, “move white characters forward” (“The Intersection | Racism, Liberalism, and ‘Red Dead Redemption 2′”).
Besides, moving white characters forward in the virtual world is the core of the american history of white colonialism. Manifest destiny, the genocide of Native Americans and Indigenous Sovereign Nations and people, and romanticizing the “Wild West” as a feminine spiritual rebirth to be controlled, diminished, and dominated is precisely the toxic and oppressive environment that Rockstar games created in Red Dead Redemption Series. Ultimately, both the Grand Theft Auto series and Red Dead Redemption series are part of the contemporary institutionalized racism, or rather new ways for the white-male dominated gaming industry to play colonizer or a virtual manifest destiny. Whether conquering and controlling people and businesses in Los Santos or becoming a “cowboy” in the West to save your family, men are in power, and other characters exist within the real-life axes of oppression, with unstable family lives, classist, and sexist portrayals. In a white male-dominated society, these virtual worlds and types of gameplay only contribute to systemic racism and oppression of women and are part of the institutional violence towards marginalized communities and women.
Leonard, David J. “Grand Theft Auto V: Post-Racial Fantasies and Ferguson Realities.” The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Class, and Culture Online, edited by Safiya Umoja Noble and Brendesha M. Tynes, vol. 105, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc, 2016, pp. 129–44.
“The Intersection | Racism, Liberalism, and ‘Red Dead Redemption 2.'” THE DEVIL STRIP, 13 Feb. 2019, https://thedevilstrip.com/the-intersection-racism-liberalism-and-red-dead-redemption-2/.