When meeting a legend on the 25th anniversary of their most well-known creation, what do you ask them? Do you expect to hear them reveal secrets about their creative process, about ideas that never came to fruition, or just how his team reacts to his ideas?
When interviewing Hideo Kojima, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was just thankful I was lucky enough to be there at all.
On March 16th, I and ten other reporters from various outlets were treated to a special brunch and round table interview with the legendary Hideo Kojima while he was in Washington DC for the Art of Video Games exhibit at the Smithsonian. The interview lasted two hours, and in that time Mr. Kojima answered a wide variety of questions and told some great stories about the Metal Gear history.
I asked him about his thought processes behind what inspires his obsession (and the almost genius implementation) of the fourth-wall-breaking gameplay and boss fights in the series. "I didn't really have a concrete idea in my mind of 'this is what a boss battle should be,' I just wanted to do something new, something exciting." Mr. Kojima said, via his translator, Kojima Productions' associated producer Sean Eyestone. "I just thought 'this would be a really cool way to make a boss,' and even now that's still the way I approach the bosses."
"At the time," he explained further, "a lot of people had a preconceived notion that games had to exist within this 'box' in their living room; it had to be limited to the TV screen that you're looking at while you're in the room. What I thought is 'why does it have to be that way? Why can't we extend the game out through the TV screen into your actual living room, into your physical space?'" It was from these thoughts that he decided to include Meryl's codec code on the back of the game box, and having Psycho Mantis read your games memory card.
"It's always been my approach to look at what technology is available to me and push games as far as I can to get them out of their traditional boundaries." Reflecting on the reaction to these ideas from the original game, he remarked, "looking back on it, a lot of people talk about that, people look back on that with respect and people praise me for that, but at the time there were a lot of people pissed off at me for it" he laughed, "saying 'this isn't the way you should make a game!' and even a lot of people on my team within Konami said 'this isn't what a game should be.' But actually I really enjoyed being yelled at for that because I like doing something different, so I'm not going to change that, so I hope you look forward to more exciting things like that going forward."