Bit of a misnomer maybe, but after sampling the slow burning brilliance of Deadwood and Hamlet on a Harley in the form of Sons of Anarchy Iím eager to sample some down home, bar brawliní shit kickiní slide guitariní gaminí son.
What I found particularly compelling about both was the way it allows for a set up of a fairly traditional social group collide with different cultural forces, and the dramatic fall out of that. It allows for a fairly focussed study of one community while providing scope for exploration of much bigger themes, it scales beautifully, and it allows plenty excuse for drama and violence and politics. Yet for some reason gaming barley seems to have tapped it.
Red Dead is the obvious example, but other than that the best examples of this sort of thing Iíve encountered so far havenít actually been in Western games at all. Bastion gets the core themes perfectly with itís music and narrator and casually violent poetry. I think it reads pretty naturally as an analogy of US expansion into the West and the collide of different cultures. The Witcher games are the closest I think games come to having made a real go at talking about different ethnic communities co-existing in a way which is nuanced and believable. They also cover the tension between frontier outlaw communities and bigger, more centralised social centres, and the difference between rural and urban life.
I honestly canít think of any other examples though. Iíd love to know if anyone is aware of anything that fits the sort of Western aesthetic in the way Iíve described above. Likewise American Gothic or anything Deep South. Itís a fascinating clash of cultures that hardly seems to have been explored in games at all. Maybe itís still too politically sensitive? As a UK resident I wouldnít know. Or maybe itís too similar and everyday for Americans and thus doesnít fit the traditional mould of escapism.
Iíve got Kentucky route Zero on the list to explore and the Real Texas, although I think theyíre going to be more abstract. Any others?