A view from the saddle

There's a snake in mah boots

I’ve never been a huge fan of westerns.

I don’t know why. I guess the setting never really appealed to me. Maybe the landscape of the old west wasn’t as much of a draw to the younger version of me as the notion of barrelling down the Death Star trench. I had no understanding of the freedom it represented – the lawlessness and the excitement. I grew up in a bungalow in Wigan, a million miles away from Cowboyland.

All that’s changed now. Well, since I’ve been playing Red Dead Redemption anyway.

I’m not saying that I now know just what life in the old west was like, due to me simply playing a game, but I’m starting to see why kids are expected to like “cowboy stuff”.

The multiplayer version of Red Dead Redemption is great fun. It contains all the iconic elements of life as an outlaw, without any of the boring stuff, like eating or resting or having to face the law if you shoot someone. I realise this semi-review arrives a good few weeks after everyone else’s, but it’s finally starting to hit home just how appealing the cowboy life can be.

The game world affords a similar sensibility to the old west, in that there are no real consequences for your actions. You can choose to help, befriend or shoot anyone or anything you happen across. And in an online multiplayer world where strangers inhabit the same space as you and your friends, this presents so many opportunities for fun, it’s unreal.

Last night I rode out across the plains of New Austin with three friends in my posse. We chose a simple mission and headed across land to our destination, only to find a group of other players had already arrived before us, intent on taking the loot we wanted so badly. What followed was an astonishingly enjoyable massacre that saw us ousting the bad guys, taking the swag and riding off into the sunset.

I never left my comfortable seat, but I had a storming time with a bunch of friends, playing a classic role in a guilt-free environment. Finally, I understand why the old west is such an enticing prospect.

I walked out the room last night with a little bit more of a swagger in my step.