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Red Dead Redemption 2 Officially Announced, But Where Are the Women Outlaws?

Are women hard to draw, too?

Yesterday brought a bit of a teaser regarding a possible Red Dead Redemption sequel from the fine folks over at Rockstar Games. That possibility became a certainty this morning as they tweeted some new art that confirms the impending sequel. Once again, we’ll be experiencing “an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland,” as described on the game’s official site.

Red Dead Redemption was a highly-rated game that took many of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto innovations into the wild west, creating an open world spaghetti western. Players took on the role of John Marston, an outlaw who, by working with the only-slightly-on-the-level law, was trying to leave his life of lawlessness behind. He succeeds, but only for a very short time; at the end of Red Dead Redemption, he gets murdered by the lawmen who had worked with him. After that, players were allowed to explore the game’s open world (and complete the epilogue) with Marston’s son.

It’s unclear whether this sequel will feature Marston’s son, or if any of the game’s other characters will make an appearance. Redemption, after all, was a sequel to another separate game titled Red Dead Revolver. If the title shown in the announcement doesn’t change, then it’s possible we could be hanging with the Marstons again, as it falls out of the naming scheme that seems to be prevailing over the Red Dead franchise.

All that aside: something that struck me about the game’s announcement art is that there aren’t any women present. Right up front, I realize that yes, this is just a bit of art attached to an announcement, and yes, there will be a full trailer coming later this week, and yes, even that won’t reveal everything in the final game. But since people view such art as simple teasers and previews, why were women left out?

The second game did include non-playable female characters, some of whom definitely fit the “strong female character” trope, but the majority of the women in the game were–you guessed it–set dressing, filling the role of either sex worker, damsel, or innocent bystander.

I reserve full judgement on the game of course, but if prevailing trends hold fast (as they so often do), then I probably shouldn’t be surprised if it’s more of the same.

Still, it’s hard to imagine how and why they elected to not include any women here. It surely wasn’t a lack of stories regarding women outlaws, because there are plenty of those. Just check this Twitter thread of prominent examples (including a woman of color), courtesy of Eve Beauregard. Seven examples, straight up. Here’s a bit of fun food for thought: imagine a Red Dead Redemption-style game featuring these women (plus more women of color). I’m totally down for that.

All said, we’ve still got a year to wait before we can get our hands on the game. It’s slated for release in Fall 2017, so there’s plenty of time for things to unfold. Here’s hoping for the best.

(via Rock Paper Shotgun, image via screengrab)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.