Note: This game is rated Mature. The listed learning ideas are for teenagers.
Art & Design
Paint (or choose another medium): Create an image of the landscape from the perspective of on top of a horse.
Careers & Life Callings
Explore: John Marston temporarily works on a ranch after being rescued by Bonnie, and expresses the desire to be a rancher. After some reading or videos, describe the work and life of a rancher. Would you want to be a rancher? What are the best and worst parts of the lifestyle?
Engineering & Technology
Question: While riding in Edgar Ross’s new Ford Model-T, John Marston refers to it as “slow.” Compared to horse travel, was the early Ford Model T slow?
Investigate: Learn about the history of the Model T and early automobiles. The model T was not the first automobile but was intended to be the first that was affordable. How did automobiles change the world? How did Henry Ford, and the Ford company, revolutionized industry with the assembly line (and employee pay)? What long term impact to you think that had?
Construct: In the Deadalus and Son side mission, Charles Kinnear asks John Marston for five beaver furs, 20 bird feathers, and 10 red sage plants to build his glider. Using materials you think are better suited, construct your own model glider, and consider sticking with the project over multiple rebuilds as you find what works and improve your design. You can also follow plans you might find online.
Investigate: You hear about early aircraft and the pursuit of flight in the game, as in the Deadalus and Son side mission. See what you can learn about early attempts at flight.
Language & Thinking
Speaking & Listening
Research & Articulate: Investigate modern ranching issues in Oregon related to the Hammond family. After learning about the issues, articulate the details to others and lead a discussion about the issues and events.
Viewing and Observing
Watch: After identifying some popular western movies, watch one or more and compare the setting, characters, and issues with those in RDR1. Extend this by doing some reading about the western movies genre. Another extension is to write reviews for the movies you watch online.
Write: Write an ode or different form of writing about something that stands out to you from the game, such as the beautiful landscape, or the mighty horse.
Life & Home Skills
Organize an Activity: In RDR1, you can play poker. Learn some basic poker games and host a game night.
Calculate: Using a bit of creative license, pick two points in the United States and compare traveling between them on horse, Model T, and train. Calculate and compare the distance (route will vary in directness and around terrain not possible to commute on some modes of transit), time, and try to estimate the cost associated with each. What obstacles and struggles are unique to each mode of transit? What are the benefits of each?
Compare and Contrast: Compare land use for ranching around 1900 and in modern day. How are they similar and different?
Research: In RDR1, you can buy snake oil from Nigel West Dickens, a “snake oil salesman.” What does it mean to be a snake oil salesman? Can you find example in current times of people being snake oil salesman?
Research: In the game, Mexicans refer to the United States as the “Land of Opportunity.” See what you can find about the use and meaning of this phrase.
Deconstruct: The “Manifest Destiny” achievement is awarded after the killing of the twenty buffalo on the prairie. Do some study on irony and the history and use of “Manifest Destiny” and explain why the achievement is ironic.
Consider: In Mexico, John Marston has a conversation with Javier Escuella and Bill Williamson. They say the rebel leader wants to overthrow the dictator to make life better, but instead, overthrows him and takes his place as dictator, leaving the citizens with no quality of life improvement. Consider this quote by H.C. Mencken: “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.” Think about the quote and decide if it feels true to you. Can you find other examples of rebels leading the cause to improve the lives of others, only to change course once they have reached power?
Reflect: Think about this conversation between Dutch and John:
Dutch: “We can’t always fight nature, John, we can’t fight change, we can’t fight gravity, we can’t fight nothing. My whole life, all I ever did was fight.”
John: “Then give up, Dutch.”
Dutch “But I can’t give up neither, I can’t fight my own nature, that’s the paradox John.”What does Dutch mean? What is a paradox?
How else might important subject matter be learned from this interest topic? Comment below! Half-baked ideas are more than welcome, too.