Listen, I get it. Boys love the wild west. There's something about the rugged landscape filled with gun-toting cowboys, dusty saloon doors and wild horses that make them pee in their pants. Maybe that's why I'm a bit hesitant continuing Red Dead Redemption. As much fun as it is to shoot imaginary rattlesnakes in the hot sun and capture outlaws in the name of justice, I'm more interested in characters like Bonnie MacFarlane and Abigail Marston. What were they busy doing while the rest of the men were out measuring the lengths of their genitalia through duels, shooting birds out of the sky and breaking wild horses?
Life in the wild west as a pioneer woman consisted of more rugged activities than the typical Victorian-lady-with-tea-time-and-scrapbooking frivolity. These women were hardcore! They rode horses, shot guns and even led bands of horse-and-cattle thieves. That's hot. But what about the ladies like Bonnie and Abigail who were left behind to tend the homesteads? Where's their gameplay?
I can just see it: a female version of Red Dead Redemption, where missions would revolve around daily duties like sweeping the porch, milking the cow and feeding leftovers to the pigs. (I know what pigs eat. I read Charlotte's Web.) Someone over at Rockstar needs to make this game ASAP, because I would be all over the multiplayer like a wild coyote. It's a chance for me to finally live out the fantasies fueled years ago by reading the entire Little House on the Prairie series.
Read on for the female version of the game we'd like to see.
With or without hog-tied nuns on railroad tracks, the farm must go on. Start your day early at 4:00am with a series of minigames by checking on the animals (slopping the pigs, mucking out the horse stables, and more!), milking Bessie the cow on a back-breaking wooden stool (time the squirts while balancing!), hauling fresh water from the creek three miles away (miraculously, it's somehow uphill both ways!) and gathering eggs in the chicken coop (while trying not to get henpecked!). Make sure you get these chores done before Pa wakes up and finds there's no fresh porridge and biscuits on the stovetop for breakfast, or he'll get his britches in a bunch!
Little known fact: back in the Wild West, food products like butter didn't come wrapped in foil from fancy grocery stores. These pioneer women had to make it all themselves, and without their own little novelty labels. But there's no time to ponder over this inconvenience, because you've got three hungry mouths to feed! Little Josie, Butch and Billy Jr. are waiting for breakfast, so see if you can churn enough cream to set the butter, then knead a loaf of bread, pluck a chicken and fry up some salted pork for dinner. Did the dear husband return with a fresh kill? Be ready to butcher the meat in time for supper, and yes, that involves boiling the cow head. I think that's how they make head cheese. (They made that once in Little House in the Big Woods. Gross.)
Hey, Microsoft. You'd make millions if you incorporated the butter churning game with Project Natal. Think about it. Call me. The gameplay videos alone would be priceless.
Life on the ranch may be hard, but that doesn't mean you can slack off in the wardrobe department--even when it's sweltering hot outside in the dusty yard! Protocol is protocol, which means you have to cover yourself from head to toe, including properly tightening your corset strings, lacing up those boots, layering pettitcoats and properly tying your bonnet to avoid those ugly freckles.You'll find it'll be hard to move around and finish your domestic duties when you can barely breathe, but if Ma once bragged that Pa could span her waist with both hands, then by golly, so can you!
Don't forget the laundry, and your options won't involve permanent press or dryer sheets. Grab a washboard and spend a monotonous hour scrubbing calico skirts and dirty undershirts with harsh soap bars that will make your hands crack. Looking for something more natural? Earn extra points by beating the wet clothes on a flat rock by the creek. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
Back then, women had lots of children but not because they loved those cuddly rapscallions, but because they died a lot more. At least, that's what I read in Little House on the Prairie. So while men like Marston are off having the time of their life in Mexico, you'll be in charge of the young'uns, and that includes Little Josie, Butch and Billy Jr. Make sure they say their prayers, are fed daily and make their way safely to the one room schoolhouse before any Injuns try to kidnap them! Then you have to tend their whooping cough, their fevers, and their chicken pox so they'll be healthy enough to do their own chores. An idle child is the devil's child.
That's not all, though. Mary Beth in the ranch over has another baby on the way, and with the doctor tending to a lame horse over 15 miles away, it's up to you to make sure she has a healthy birth. So, prepare yourself for the complete midwife event where you have to use both thumbsticks, the knuckle buttons, and the left trigger to aid in the delivery of nature's miracle. Hey, they did this on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Why can't we?
Alright, maybe a pioneer woman version of Red Dead Redemption wouldn't be incredibly fast-paced, even though you'd have a lot to do. There would be so much waiting going on: waiting to land a husband so you can actually get married and not turn into the town Old Maid, waiting for your husband to come home, waiting for them to finish eating so you can clean up the kitchen and waiting for the bread to rise. Don't forget waiting for the proper supplies to arrive at the General Store, waiting for medicine to advance enough so you don't bleed to death during childbirth or waiting for the right to vote. But at least all this waiting will be fun! Pass endless hours as you embroider a new pillow for the parlour, or re-read your favorite chapter in the Bible.
Did you know? Before leading a respectable life on a homestead, Abigail Martson was a dirty whore. Okay, maybe she wasn't that dirty and sometimes, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. It's not the oldest profession in the world for nothing. So if she can do it, why can't you? If your husband dies and you lose the farm, then venture down the path of sin by boarding with other fallen women at the local saloon. Make a living by bedding any willing client and then drown your sorrows with an endless supply of Firewater. Unlock special achievements by putting together the most salacious outfits with feather boas, exposed garters and cheap jewelry. Win extra points if you find a respectable man to marry and pretend like those days at Old Brown's Watering Hole never happened.