Red Dead Redemption Game Poster Image

Red Dead Redemption



Epic but adult Western game is definitely not for kids.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game glorifies Wild West violence and behavior stereotypical of outlaws of the era. If players stick with the spirit of the narrative, their characters’ aggression will be directed only at villains. But it is possible to take on criminal jobs and even shoot civilians, though there are penalties in the form of a more notorious reputation. Note, too, that while some of the main women in the game are liberal and intelligent, others are heavily sexualized.

Positive role models

Our hero is a reformed outlaw who is trying to pay for past crimes -- and save his wife and son, who are being held hostage by unscrupulous lawmen -- by hunting down the bandits he once rode with. He seems intelligent and honest by nature, though players have the option of directing him toward criminal activities. Regardless, he is a hard, violent man who plies his abilities with a gun to make his way through the world.

Ease of play

Three levels of difficulty affect the ease with which players can target enemies, helping ensure that players of all skill levels will be able to find their footing in the game fairly quickly. The controls are sometimes complex, but always tight.


Gunfights involving rifles, pistols, and slow motion effects occur frequently. Players can also engage in visceral melee fights with knives. Characters are shown hanged and lying dead in ditches. Blood can be seen spurting from wounds and gathering in puddles on the ground. You will see a hung man who is naked with his genitals cut off. Characters yelp in pain when injured. Players can also skin and gut animals they kill in the wild, with blood spattering the screen.


The game contains a scene in which a man and woman have sex, with the woman’s breasts clearly visible. Another scene involves women who are about to be raped by bandits, though the crime is stopped before it is committed. Women who seem to be harlots dressed in provocative attire loiter around some buildings. A painting showing the back side of a naked woman hangs in a saloon. A naked man can be seen hanging from a barn, his genitals cut off.Cartoons that are shown at the cinema depict sexual acts.


A broad swath of profanity is clearly audible throughout the game. Examples include “s--t,” “f--k,” “bitch,” “damn,” “bastard,” “hell,” and “piss.”

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Many of the game’s characters smoke and chew tobacco, and an article in a virtual newspaper discusses how frequent smoking can help stave off tuberculosis. Various kinds of liquor are on display in saloons, and the player’s character can order and become drunk on bourbon, which will cause him to stumble about and eventually fall down and pass out. Optional side missions involve couriering hard drugs, including opium.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Red Dead Redemption is a violent western game with very mature themes, and not suitable for kids or young teens. The action involves frequent gunfights that are both bloody and highly stylized. Players will also hunt and kill wild animals, then skin them with blood spattering the screen. Our hero, an ex-outlaw, is honest and good by design, but players can have him kill civilians (with a penalty in reputation) and take on criminal missions -- including drug running challenges -- if they choose. Tobacco and alcohol use occurs frequently, and their effects are made clear in the game. There is a sex scene in which a woman can be seen naked, and women in saloons are dressed provocatively. Foul language abounds in the dialogue, and players are at risk of being exposed to more should they try the online mode, which offers open voice communication. (Common Sense Media does not recommend online play with open voice communication to children under 12 years of age.)

What's it about?

The decidedly adult-oriented RED DEAD REDEMPTION, developed by the same people who make the Grand Theft Auto games, offers players an extraordinarily large, detailed, and authentic recreation of the Wild West circa 1911. Players take on the role of an ex-outlaw who must hunt down the bandits he once rode with in order to secure the safety of his wife and child, who have been taken hostage by corrupt lawmen. There are countless precursor and side missions for players to lose themselves in along the way, ranging from cattle herding and bronco busting to helping sheriffs round up or eliminate local thieves and murders. Strangers in need of help are everywhere, and there are also some criminal outfits that try to enlist the player’s help. An online mode provides the ability to freely roam the game’s massive world alone or with friends in the form of a posse. Players can also enter traditional deathmatch-style events.

Is it any good?


Few games aspire to the sort of scope achieved by Red Dead Redemption. The world players inhabit is breathtaking in its beauty, mind-boggling in its enormity, and almost incomprehensible in its level of authentic detail. Horses animate just like the real thing, clouds create shadows that roll over the landscape, faux newspapers contain complete articles and ads appropriate to the time and place, and characters chat with one another with marvellously authentic accents and dialects.

The things players can do in the game are even more impressive. Whether it’s living off the land by hunting and skinning wild animals, joining an armed posse to go save a homestead, or heading out onto the range to capture and break some wild stallions, there is never a dull moment or a shortage of activities. Adult gamers looking for something meaty, lengthy, and beautiful are in for a treat.

Online interaction: This game supports online play with open voice chat, which means players are free to use harsh language, exchange personal information, and share inappropriate ideas. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for pre-teens.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the use of violence in this game. Would the game been as fun without the extreme violence, sex, and cussing?

  • Families can also discuss Red Dead Redemption’s depiction of women. Many of the female characters in the game are shallow and appear to be little more than harlots, but a few are given legitimate and even liberal personalities.

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Available online?Available online
Developer:Rockstar Games
Release date:May 18, 2010
ESRB rating:M for Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs

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Parent of a 14 year old Written byZackkShapp December 27, 2012

Good Segway into M rated games for responsible 13 year olds.

First off, I'm 15. My review is under parent because no one goes looking for reviews by kids. I'm not a "gamer" and my parents very rarely let me play an M rated game and they always use the reviews on this site as a guide. I believe that this is great for a first "M" rated game for kids as it is very toned down compared to other M games, and it is easy for parents to see the kind of choices that their child is making and decide if they are responsible enough for other games. I disagree with a few of the points that the common sense article made so I'll go through them. First, I don't agree with the extremely high violence rating that the game was given. If you look at a T rated game such as Batman: Arkham city, which this site says is fine for kids, you play as a good guy who is beating the life out of bad guys pretty much constantly throughout the game. Because Batman uses only his fists, the violence is brutal, close up, and often slow motion. This is not the case in Red Dead Redemption. In this game, the majority of the time your gun will be holstered. You don't walk through town shooting person after person as they appear such as in Halo, Brink, or other games that this site feels are acceptable. However, while there is less violence in this game it is very realistic. Players can use pistols, shotguns, and rifles which are accurate for the time period. You are usually shooting people from far away an can't see any blood, but there will be times where it is present. Blood spurts out of the place that the person was shot and they might be knocked backwards or have there hat fly off. There is no over the top gore like in Gears of War where limbs fly off and there are no bloody corpses but the violence can feel pretty real. Players are able to choose which body part they would like to shoot such as taking out someone's legs to capture them rather than killing them. One point I would like to stress however, is that the game only has you shooting generic gang members who have no story tied to them. You aren't assassinating people who you know have a good side to them as they talk to their friends like in Assassin's Creed. A bad guy appears and you shoot them. They all have the same face. Next, language is not an issue. When I played the game I probably heard a real swear word (f---, sh--, b---,) once for every two hours that I played. By movie standards that's either a PG or PG13 movie and trust me, any Middle School or High School kid is used to a lot more than that. Also, when characters do swear it's not like modern day swearing. There's no f--- this f--- that and swears are rarely used as insults. It's more, "aww, sh-- I s'pose we outta' do somethin' about it." Next is drug use. It's really not too bad, you can get drunk at the bar and pass out but it does nothing but cost you money and your kid won't waste time with it. One problem I do have with the game is the sex scene. Yes, it's really bad, and it's up to your kid to decide to skip it. The bare breast that is mentioned quite a few times in the review isn't an issue as its shown for a split second. The problems are the sounds the character makes and the position they are in. If you want to see it just do what your kid has probably already done and search it on YouTube. Your child will probably be too embarrassed to watch it on the big TV screen anyway, but you should definitely make it clear that if you let them get the game, they have to skip that scene. Overall, I think it's a great transition game for parents and their children. You CAN choose to kill innocent townspeople but this does nothing but hurt you (a lot) and your kid will quickly learn not to do it. Killing innocent people causes you to die, pay huge fines, have the police and bounty hunters be after you for the rest of the game, spend time in jail, have people refuse to help or even talk to you, and have your honor and reputation go down which can really hurt you throughout the course of the game. My advice is to put the Xbox in your living room or whatever room someone is constantly in, and your kid will never do something bad in the game while your near. Also, you can easily see whether is honor bar (which starts in the middle) is closet to honorable or evil to see what kinds of things they have been doing. Through out the course of the game it is NEVER encouraged to steal, kill, or harm any innocent people but you do have the option which makes it a great way for parents to learn to trust their kids. Finally, there are two things in the game that I found offensive and that parents should no about. This game is extremely realistic and there were a lot of animals in the Wild West such as jackalopes, rabbits , and horses. You are constantly riding a horse throughout the game and unfortunately, every time your horse accidentally treads on a small animal darting across the path, you hear it squish. I hate this and I wish that there was a way to turn it off. Also, it is not necessary, but definitely beneficial for players to kill and skin wild animals, which is true to the time period. When you skin an animal it shows your character above the camera hacking and slashing at the animal (which is not shown) with a knife. As he's doing this, large amounts of blood splash on the screen and the sound effects are disgusting. When your done you can see the gory remains of the animal. I hate these two things and wish that you could turn them off in the menu. All in all, you have to know your kids and decide what kind of person they are going to be in this game. If you think that they aren't going to take it seriously and go on massacres, don't buy it. If you think that they will play the game the way that it was meant to be played then get it, as the main character is a great role model. Finally, the deciding factor in my parents letting me get the game was that they realized it was a cowboy game. You aren't walking through New York and shooting people up like Grand Theft Auto and parents need to understand that it must be viewed as what it is, A GAME. Thanks for sticking through this long review and I hope that I helped you reach a decision on whether or not this game is right for your child.
Parent Written byBlueandboo January 31, 2011

My kids love the game

My kids love the game i have a 10 year old and a thirteen year old and they both know all the swears and you can turn off the bad cut scenes so this game is good
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written byctth75 April 24, 2011

Common sense?

Not for kids? Really? I'm sure if you want your parents to hate you and have them grow up a sad, lonely life you won't let them play this. Red Dead is phenomenal. Yes, there is sex. Yes, there is violence. No, that doesn't mean kids should not be allowed to play it. The breasts are there for a split-second, (and by now, if your kid is about 13, I'm sure he's seen them before.) The story is great, and I'm sure kids 10 and up can find great use with this game. Anyone that thinks otherwise has no 'common sense.'
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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