Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum Opens New Exhibit that Shapes American West

 

March 4, 2019

CONTACT: AJ McCormick, 806-651-5238, amccormick@wtamu.edu

Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum Opens New Exhibit

CANYON, Texas—Guns, glory and games! The Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW) and Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum (PPHM) invite you to attend “Red Dead University,” a new exhibit located in the Alexander Gallery at the PPHM at the opening reception at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5.

Students, faculty and community members can get a first look at “Red Dead University” during its opening reception. Reception will be in the Alexander Gallery and Pioneer Town. This event is free, and Western wear is encouraged. Snacks and beverages will be provided.

“Red Dead University” will encourage academic gameplay of the video game Red Dead Redemption II (RDRII), and the exhibit will feature artifacts from the Wild West, the setting for the game. The exhibit will be open throughout 2019 and is available to museum patrons during regular museum operating hours (WT students, faculty, and staff can get in free with a valid Buff Gold Card).

“What watching westerns at the movies or on TV was to one generation, RDRII is to the upcoming generation,” said CSAW director Alex Hunt. “This game not only relates to popular understanding of western history and mythology, it also has the potential to reshape our understanding of the American West.”

Based in 1899, RDRII follows outlaw Arthur Morgan and his struggles to adapt to a world “that don’t want us no more.” Throughout the over eighty hours of game play, players’ decisions mark them as “white hat” or “black hat,” their deeds influencing future gameplay. The historical setting of RDRII immerses players in history, culture, and adventure.

“Games like RDRII offer a plethora of meanings that hold vast educative potential across disciplines, from the humanities to the sciences,” said Dr. Stefan ‘Steve’ Rabitsch, Fulbright Visiting Scholar in American Studies.

In addition to “Red Dead University,” CSAW is working with West Texas A&M University students and faculty to encourage interdisciplinary research of the American West, with RDRII as a focal or launching point.

“Video games have by now become the most significant contributor to popular culture,” said Rabitsch, who will give opening remarks at the March 5 reception. He notes that video games fuse narrative and visual elements to create immersive worlds.

After eight years of production, Rockstar Games released RDRII on October 26, 2018. Rockstar reports that the game grossed over $725 million after only three days on the market.

“Gaming is hugely important in our culture and we need to pay attention to RDR2, and similar games, because how we perceive the American West has major ramifications for how we view ourselves as Americans,” said Hunt.

Those interested in conducting their own research on RDRII or related topics are encouraged to visit the “Red Dead University” exhibit as well as contact CSAW for help with facilitating research and for information on conference and publication opportunities for completed research.

About the Center for the Study of the American West

CSAW formed in the fall of 2016 with a mission of fostering the study of the American West at WTAMU and building bridges between the university, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and the regional populace. CSAW seeks to promote the American West both as a culturally unique region and a product of broad historical forces. Through this endeavor, CSAW remains dedicated to cultivating a critical vision of region and place in a globalized era. For more information, contact: csaw@wtamu.edu or 806-651-5238.

—WTAMU—


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