Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Who needs Zoom when you can have conference calls in Red Dead Redemption 2?

Illustration for article titled Who needs Zoom when you can have conference calls in Red Dead Redemption 2?
Screenshot: Nessis (YouTube)

Since it looks like a lot of people are going to be working from home for a while longer, now’s a good time to embrace cutting-edge video conferencing technology. While we’ve seen excellent examples of how best to use software like Zoom to improve virtual meetings by, say, punching them up with horror movie jump scares, replacing callers with digital clones, or having Conan O’Brien stop by to yell at people, even these practices are limited by format.


As this piece from Rock Paper Shotgun makes clear, the most forward-thinking remote workers have figured out a better, more unorthodox approach: Just getting everyone together in Red Dead Redemption 2 for cowboy-themed meetings.

The piece profiles Viviane Schwarz, who tweeted out a thread discussing how their team had done away with Zoom in favor of “having editorial meetings” around the campfire in Red Dead 2.

Schwarz, who will definitely be giving high-priced business seminars on how others can create video game workplaces before long, describes how their team was sick of “Zoom and Skype meetings and emails and phone calls” before turning to Red Dead’s multiplayer mode as an alternative. As you might expect, there are benefits and drawbacks in trying to get work done within the framework of an action game set in late 19th century America.

Apparently it’s nice to sit around the virtual campfire, brewing in-game coffee, and ending meetings with colleagues deciding to “jump on [their] horses and do crime or justice, which is a lot less awkward than everyone smiling at the camera while they’re trying to sign off.” The game also allows for Schwarz’s team to wander around in digital nature and take breaks by fighting rival gangs as an impromptu “tea break.”

But there are unique challenges to Red Dead 2 meetings, too. Sometimes a bug will crop up that makes the campfire disappear and J.B. Cripps, a salty old bearded guy who manages players’ camps in the game’s online mode, has a tendency to show up during business discussions to play mouth harp or “continually [interject] with stories about his life.” What sounds like the biggest issue, though, is the fact that the button prompt for making characters sit on the ground is the same one used to throw a nearby coworker into a choke hold. As anyone who’s ever sat through a long, difficult meeting knows, the workflow may occasionally be helped along by two colleagues strangling each other, but not always—and never by mistake.


Read the entire article for more on this bold new format for online conferences, how to get your own team set up to handle business around the campfire, and useful tips to improve the whole experience, like, as Schwarz notes, the importance of everyone washing their characters before talking shop because, well, “sometimes you can be really caked in blood and dirt, and not realize.”

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.