People sometimes ask me what I think of video games. I think that, in moderation, they're a fine source of the kind of passive entertainment we all need little doses of in our lives. But for me personally, I rarely play video games because there's just too much other stuff I'd rather do instead.
There is one notable exception to my ambivalence towards video games, however. A game which I played for hours with thorough enjoyment and zero regret: Red Dead Redemption 2. It's a video game that's more immersive and story-like than most others, and even gets you reflecting on the existential layers of life.
Here to discuss those deeper layers of Red Dead Redemption 2 with me is Patrick Stokes, a professor of philosophy and fellow fan of the game. We combine two of my favorite things — Red Dead Redemption 2 and the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard — in a conversation on the existential themes you can find in the game like nostalgia, freedom, choice and consequences, and the certain uncertainty of death.
Resources Related to the Episode
- AoM Podcast #790: Kierkegaard on the Present (Passionless) Age
- AoM Podcast #635: The Existentialist’s Survival Guide
- "Art for Trying Times: How a Philosopher Found Solace Playing RedDeadRedemption 2" by Patrick Stokes
- Digital Souls: A Philosophy of Online Death by Patrick Stokes
- "A Special Way of Being Afraid" — Kathy Behrendt on the fear of non-existence in death
- A Very Easy Death by Simone De Beauvoir
- Photo of Lewis Powell — conspirator in the Lincoln assassination
- "The Ruin" poem
- Kierkegaard quote on living life forwards
- Mimesis as Make-Believe by Kendall Walton
- The Ethical Demand by Knud Ejler Løgstrup
- Patrick's articles on New Philosopher