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Metal Gear Solid must reflect the era in which it's made, Kojima says

Xav de Matos, @Xav
06.11.14
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Following a demo of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, prominent game designer Hideo Kojima told Joystiq, through a translator, that it's important for media to reflect the era in which it is developed. Games with authorship tell a story beyond what appears within the product's narrative, he said; they give players a perspective on the state of the world at the time of a game's development.

Some games lack that authorship, he said.

Gallery: Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (E3 2013) | 26 Photos

"Whether it's intentional or unintentional – it could be a movie about aliens or zombies, whatever it is – if there is authorship, the era and environment [of the story's author] will be reflected in the story," Kojima told me.

Kojima points to Godzilla as an example of a media that reflects the era in which it was made.

Saying that he recently re-watched 1971's Godzilla vs. Hedorah, a film that threw the giant monster against a foe that rises from the world's pollution, he was reminded of the huge environmental problems occurring in Japan. It was a product that reflected the time and gave viewers a point of relation to the broader story.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain brings snake into Afghanistan during the 1980s, in the middle of the cold war. It's a game that appears to reflect on both the current and historical climate of the Russia/Soviet Union, Afghanistan and the United States.

Beyond that, Kojima places his famous characters in situations that strike his own interests. He feels that his stories bring a specific voice to the product that reflects his own thoughts and ideas. As an example, Kojima said he's done with the topic of private military organizations.

Speaking to the global reaction of the portrayal of torture in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Kojima said that his game tackles difficult themes: race, conflict, torture. These are all elements Kojima does not want to ignore, things he says he must depict as a story teller. But is he depicting them well enough?

Batman is a good example of a character that has passed between eras well, Kojima said. There have been many portrayals of Batman, but Christopher Nolan's universe dealt with the concept of a security state and the chaos reflective of a post-9/11 world.

The core values and elements of characters remain static – which is the case for Metal Gear - but the world that surrounds a character helps to give people a relatable entry point into their ideals and motivations of its characters, regardless of which side they fight for.

Snake's upcoming tale is about revenge and its darker themes are portrayed to give people insight into his motivations, to perhaps understand his decisions, whether they be good or bad.

After all, Kojima reminded us, The Phantom Pain's hero ends up being a bad guy in games that fall later in the chronology.
[Image: Kojima Productions]

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