Honour and Independence vs Blind Loyalty – the Themes of RDR 2

Welcome to Amazing Gaming Productions. My name is Mark.

I am the creator of Tales from Trinity City and the writer of Webtastic Stories.

Today’s blog is about the themes of positive character arcs.

Positive character arcs(PCAs) are always personal journeys. The character has a flaw that holds them back from living a great life. They must realize that flaw and leave it behind, allowing them to live in new freedom.

The Theme of a PCA will always be personal, or else how do you show a story where someone has a fault they haven’t dealt with yet?

As a result, the themes of a PCA are always personal. A PCA has themes of love, freedom, or loyalty. The MC faces their wounds and lies and is “reborn” by learning to let them go.

For the PCA series, I am using Red Dead Redemption 2. RockStar flawlessly executed both Arthur Morgan’s and John Marsden’s arcs, both in the story and in programming.

Red Dead Redemption 2’s theme was blind loyalty vs freedom and honour.

Through the events, the immediate Thematic question is – Will Arthur ever figure out he should ditch Dutch and the Gang and live out his life?

It takes Arthur some time, but he finally realizes being loyal to Dutch and the Gang is the reason he’s dying of TB!

Every time Arthur Morgan trusted Dutch and his plans, everything went south. From almost being killed by the O’Driscols when he acted as a lookout, to Keiran’s death – following Dutch’s orders, to Lenny and others dying when they tried to rob the bank in St. Denis.

The story showed being blindly loyal to someone is a bad idea; because being Loyal to Dutch could be hazardous to your health!

Once Arthur learned his lessons and did his own thing, he achieved his goals – he wanted to escape the law and his past because the O’Driscols and the law were no longer after him.

Since I am writing RDR2 as a positive character arc, though the dishonourable ending shows a corruption arc (Negative character arc), Arthur shows his growth by buying John enough time to get away, while Arthur has his final shoot out before his fight with Micah.

Arthur’s sacrifice inspires John to be honourable for the next eight years. He wants to be the best man he can be for Jack and Abby.

Initially, Abby doesn’t trust John after he stops a robbery at a ranch he goes to for work.

John must show his honour and forward-thinking, building a new life for himself, rejecting Dutch’s influence on his life.

Not only did the story show the negatives of blind loyalty, but the programming was equally powerful as a storytelling agent as well.

Programming is one of the storytelling mechanisms that games have over novels, comics and movies. You can show a theme by preventing people from doing certain things.

In Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur can’t achieve more than 80% honour or dishonour before the 6th chapter of the game. Arthur is blindly loyal to Dutch, so he has no agency. After the events of Guam, Arthur can own his agency because he realizes Dutch’s plans never work out.

Arthur is Dutch’s pawn, nothing more or less, until Chapter 6.

Another programmable part of the story was the Camp, Arthur’s “normal world”. The Camp represents Arthur’s blind loyalty to the Dutch and the Gang. Periodically, Arthur has to go to the Camp to restock supplies, like food, medicine and money.

If you stay away from Camp too long, Bill will tell Arthur, Dutch is looking for him. The Programming shows Arthur has no agency, and Dutch owns him.

Again, in Chapter 6, this mechanism is gone.

In the Epilogue – John can refuse to shoot the snitch that Sadie finds, another programmable event that shows John’s growth, and you have to wait until Micah pulls his gun before shooting – showing John has grown up and rejected Dutch.

Positive character arcs themes are always personal themes.

The MC(s) have flaws in their character, but they learn to let them go because they see a better path. They let go of their irrational goals and healed from their wounds to become better people.

For Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur Morgan goes from blind loyalty to Dutch and the Gang to becoming his own man by doing the honourable thing. Arthur’s sacrifice inspires John to become a better man, and he creates a better life for him, Jack and Abby.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

Feel free to share it on social media, and if you have questions, feel free to use the comment section below.

And follow me on Twitter if you want to connect.

Have a great day, guys.

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