Blurring the lines of media
It is well known that the mastermind behind the Metal Gear franchise had originally wanted to make movies. Instead, Hideo Kojima got caught up in the new form of media we have come to know as video games, bringing his love of film with him. Free of Konami’s reigns, he wants to not only blend the different media further, but continue to create brand new experiences.
When probed by BBC, who was touring Kojima Productions, Kojima had no ill words to speak of Konami, unsurprisingly. Around the world it is uncouth to speak poorly of a previous employer publicly, especially for the big boys, but it is doubly so in Japan.
With nothing to gain from deriding the pachislot company, he was thankful instead, stating “I had a lot of experiences there and I’m very appreciative of everything I gained from that experience.” Similarly, he reflected on life when speaking with IGN, saying, “The me that stands here now is the product of the past 53 years of my life. Everything I experienced over 53 years; movies I’ve seen, books I’ve read, music I’ve listened to, games I’ve played, people I’ve met and the 30 years spent in this industry, have formed who I am. Not one of these things has been without purpose, including my experience creating games at Konami. I’m embarking on a new challenge with a fresh slate, but I intend to keep pushing the creative envelope until the day I die. I believe my experiences over the past 53 years won’t lead me astray.”
As is custom in Japan, Kojima speaks positively about the present and future rather than what negatives there may have been in the past, “I have more freedom now because the final decision comes down to me. This company is not listed on the stock exchange so we don’t need to worry about pleasing investors. We can just concentrate on making good games.”
And good games they shall make, but with products like Until Dawn and visual novels increasing, it’s maybe about time to start using broader terms like “interactive media.” Kojima notices the trend of game and film “convergence” and wants to appeal to that crowd. “The time you have to choose what media or entertainment you experience is dwindling. More and more people are looking at types of media that combine elements together. If we just make a game people are less likely to choose that as something to do. They would rather engage in something that combines different forms of entertainment together. That’s where we need to focus our efforts, on this convergence.”
While his lips are sealed shut on new Death Stranding information, Kojima does say he wants the game to be accessible in the first couple hours, then change it up; “It’s not like anything they’ve played before.” Later, when talking about his studio’s philosophy, he adds “We don’t want to be a studio that re-uses assets, ideas or just makes sequels all the time. We want it so every time someone plays one of our games they’re getting a new experience.” These remarks match up with stories you hear of him repeatedly trying to get away from Metal Gear and do something different when he was at Konami.
One last interesting note is his defense of the way women were represented in previous games. In his mind, explaining it makes it okay: “What I really want to avoid is, like you see in some games, characters with big breasts with no back story. If I make characters that at first glance might look like this then they’ll have a deep background story to give a specific reason why.“
Sexualization of male and female characters in games never bothers me, but the justification for Quiet’s appearance in Metal Gear Solid V was almost as silly as that “I’m acting!” face she makes when choking you in the hospital at the start of the game.
In any case, Kojima has the right idea with games. We want new things we’ve never seen before, as demanding as that may be. I’m looking forward to experiencing whatever this company conjures up in the future, including of course Death Stranding.