Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hideo Kojima Wishes He Had Thought Of Breaking Bad

I can't even laugh about this anymore.

"The kind of topics they're handling in Breaking Bad, the way they express them and put them on screen, let's say I tried to create a game with similar topics and similar expressions, it would be hard to get approval in the company. The way these guys are putting the planning for this project and making it a commercial success - that's somewhere I feel very jealous as a creator."

I'll make one admission: it is possible - possible, but not likely - that I overestimate Kojima's creative control over his product. It is certainly feasible that he didn't want to include a sexy sniper babe to boost figure sales - that without the interference of the rest of Konami, he would have made a completely straightfaced story about child soldiers and CIA torture and sewing bombs into peoples' abdomens. It is possible that the goofy things throughout the rest of Metal Gear Solid were foisted upon him by the company.

But we still have to judge MGS; we still have to see it as the result of ideas, some of which are problematic, that leads to a completed video game product. This gives me the unenviable task of separating Kojima's "real thoughts" from the company lines he is contractually obligated to support. Was it Kojima's idea, or the company's idea, to have the bosses of MGS4 be played by supermodels? Was it his idea to sexualize women with horrific backstories of abuse and murder, or was that the company? Was it Kojima's idea to make the poopy guy fall in love with Meryl and then turn into an action movie badass? I know for a fact that he wanted Metal Gear Rising to be about Grey Fox and not about Raiden, so I can't blame him for anything in that. Was anything related to Peace Walker Kojima's idea? Is Kojima even a real human being, or is he a marionette assembled by the Konami corporation to have a relatable goofball behind their coldly calculated corporate products? In short, is Kojima a piece of shit, or does he just make games for pieces of shit? This might seem like a simple issue, but it kind of calls to question the whole "art" angle of  video games. If you literally cannot tell if a game is designed for the artist's preferences or "just to sell", is it really worth anything? Also, why is it that the people who want games to be considered art will also go out of their way to defend pandering, stupid decisions even when they're explicitly stated as such?

Anyways, if you want the Breaking Bad of videogames, play Liberal Crime Squad or Swat 4 or, hell, maybe even try out Floor 13 if you're okay with going a bit afield. All of those are games that exist, made by small, dedicated studios without grandiose ideas of billion-dollar profit margins, more concerned with delivering a small-but-tight experience with meaningful decision-making. So maybe Hideo Kojima should just fucking quit and start his own studio, is what I'm saying. It worked for Peter Molyne-oh wait no

During development of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Hideo Kojima wanted the Beauty and the Beast Unit to be naked during cutscenes, though this would have severely affected the game's censorship rating.

i forgot that hideo kojima is just a piece of shit and there's no question about it

11 comments:

  1. This seems a disappointingly pointless, hate filled post

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    1. "Disappointingly": It's the exact same tone as everything else I've ever written.

      "Pointless": The point is that there is a long-standing cultural gap between "the way games handle content" and "the way movies/TV handle content" that Hideo Kojima refuses to recognize. While movies and television can be serious and tonally consistent, games seem to have a harder time with that, and Hideo Kojima is in no position to be complaining about that fact (which he is) because he is partially responsible for propagating that standard by making games that mix "serious topics" with goofy comic relief, war-as-a-game mechanics, and sexist objectification.

      "Hate Filled": This one's accurate.

      "Post": Barely.

      Thanks for your input, Paul, but you should stick with the prod. Prod with the prod. Just in case, though, we're police.

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  2. Oh, and since I'm sure there's only one type of person still reading this: consider this an open Q&A. A lot of people clamored for Free Speech and Equal Discourse, so this is the place to do it. Go ahead and ask anything you want about the philosophies of this blog and they will be answered in a straightforward and non-hostile manner. Go on. Daddy's not mad anymore.

    Oh, and tell Al to call me, while you're at it.

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    1. Hi there, you called? Are you going to play and enjoy Dark Souls II? Did you like my video on diegesis?

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    2. I've never watched your videos, Al; I can't taint our relationship with that kind of bias.

      Also in all honesty I'm not super-enthused for Dark Souls II. The concept was great the first two times around but at this point it's just sort of not enough. Really what I wanted out of the original Dark Souls was a more group-oriented co-op game, and while the improv co-op was neat, it wasn't enough for me to serve as a major game mechanic. I AM kind of excited for Hellraid, which is more direct co-op stuff, even though it's a first-person melee game.

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  3. Okay, I'll bite.

    I'd like to pick your brain in regards to Spec Ops: The Line. You make it pretty clear that you have a distaste for the game and that in order to send its message, it vastly underestimates its audience and therefore undercuts its own message. I will agree that the game's script reads like a first draft and lost its message towards the end. It could use a rewrite to narrow its focus in order to drive the message home. However, it also does a great job of throwing FPS tropes in the player's face and make the player question his or her (okay fine, his) decisions as a gamer and think about the actions that are going on in the game. The white phosphorus scene that you've written about in this blog had some commentary from the developers: If you don't want to commit a war crime, turn off the fucking game. That's some pretty intense metacommentary. The people who made the game are saying that the right thing to do is to stop consuming their product.

    I'm losing focus a bit, so I'll ask my question straight up: What do you think of Spec Ops: The Line *as satire of the warshooter genre*?

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    1. A good question; obviously my feelings about Spec Ops are still going to be negative, but this is a good phrasing of it so I can actually break down WHY.

      Firstly, as I noted in my Spec Ops article, SOTL is "breaking down" a genre that doesn't really exist. COD is full of reflective "war is hell" moments already - it's just that when you kill civilians in CoD, it's a game over rather than a scripted sequence. Other than that, they've already got a whole arsenal of "grimdark trope subversions", most notably in the field of "protagonists dying". One guy dies of nuclear fallout. Another is shot and then set on fire. The American Military turns out to be the bad guys in MW2, specifically for reasons of jingoistic nationalism. The only game left that "plays it straight" is Medal of Honor, and "dissecting" that is like dissecting an earthworm: it takes like two seconds and doesn't require a huge ordeal.

      "If you don't want to commit a war crime, turn off the fucking game." This is a dishonest statement even in the bizarre context of meta-analysis. See, the thing is, if you want to make a justified, realistic statement about "war crimes", here's what you do to make it accurate: you have civilians THROUGHOUT levels. Not "huddled in one spot". Running amidst the ruins, trying to avoid being shot. When you call down artillery, you are hitting civilians. When you lay suppressing fire, you are hitting civilians. When you target a building with a 40mm grenade, you are hitting civilians. That is how this works in actual war: people don't need to go out of their way to target civilians, they just need to NOT DO ENOUGH to NOT hit them.

      If they actually wanted to undermine "FPS as a genre", they should have actually started at the assumption that the protagonist is an unstoppable tank and their enemies are all disposable. Present it as a regular "3 dudes go in to take down an army" concept and then have it turn out that the members of the army are all just as strong as each of the 3 Delta guys. Have enemies who respond like human beings rather than like robots with voiceboxes. Have bullets do horrifically realistic damage to human beings rather than just being "jellyblobs".

      Basically what it comes down to is this: what is the GOAL of Spec Ops The Line? If it's "to make people feel bad about playing shooters", I don't think it works. If it's "to educate people about the truth behind war, since they've been blinded by the jingoistic media of other shooters", it definitely doesn't work. Is it supposed to be educating people or just shaming them? Is it supposed to be taking an active role in delivering the truth, or is it just doing the same things but in a grimmer, more angry way?

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  4. Hello, I'm a secret reader, and, um...

    I've been writing a lot about problematic elements in Kojima's works, but I'm a nobody who can only post this stuff on their Tumblr. Though, I do hope there is merit in my words and that'll lead me to meeting new people. And maybe finding out if I'm a delusional hack.

    So I'm hoping what I have will be interesting to someone who reads this blog as this blog is to me.

    http://srholiwell.tumblr.com/post/79705490991/the-bechdel-kojima-test

    A~nd:

    http://srholiwell.tumblr.com/post/79714445904/underlying-themes-of-misogyny-in-hideo-kojimas

    Some of the stuff I've written in here is because of stuff you've written, so I thought you'd like to see what you've wrought.

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    1. I think you've done a good job assembling a body of evidence of Kojima generally being a piece of shit - but for the record, my position on symbolism is "it's not worth shit", so your second article kind of turned me off with that right away. The thing is, I don't think you need to go to all the trouble of pointing out stuff about "faces" and "true selves" and whatever when all the material is pretty blatant right there in front of you. The way Kojima writes about women and depicts women is as sex objects, with a few rare exceptions, and the root cause of this is his overall inability to write serious characters to begin with. Kojima's characters aren't people, they're over-exaggerated archetypes with no underlying structure or logic to them. When he writes women, he's writing what he thinks he knows about women - and he's putting those words in the mouths of characters we're supposed to agree with.

      See, the thing is, you've gathered a lot of good evidence for your case of "Hideo Kojima is a misogynist creep", such as Snatcher being full of "WOMEN ARE VAIN AND SCUMMY" moments (as well as that one transphobic moment that I didn't even know about!). I think if you just addressed those outright you'd have a good case, and I don't think you need to build the "metaphor shell" around it. Really, if you wanted to actually make a case of this, I'd just present this stuff in a forthright and orderly manner. Women in Kojima's works are treated like shit, and we're supposed to think that Gillian (and Metal, who is a ROBOT and yet still makes sexist statements somehow) is sympathetic and correct when he propositions a 14-year-old or when he treats a transvestite as a terrifying and disgusting being.

      TL;DR good evidence, don't bother with the metaphors.

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    2. Oh, thank you very much for your reply; I appreciate it.

      The misogynistic symbolism becomes important because it's carried over into later games as well. This...makes more sense when it's seen as a piece of a larger thing-a-mah-bob I'm writing. I can understand symbolism being dodgy, but writing that part for me was edifying in a lot personal ways. I'll take another look at it and see if I can do a better angle, but I think my points are strong. Though, I'm glad you managed to hold your nose through what I did write.

      Here: I just finished Tumblr-converting a write-up of Snatcher that is more straight-up evidence rather than me stretching my semiotic muscles.

      http://srholiwell.tumblr.com/post/79735239328/snatcher-1988

      Again, I appreciate your response and I'll try to incorporate it into what I'm doing. Want to add: Metal Gear fans cussed me out and threatened me in misogynistic ways and caused me to have panic attacks for sharing these things I wrote. So I breathed a sigh of relief upon reading your comment. I'm too soft for the internet.

      I-in other words, it was very nice to read you.

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  5. It IS a culture thing...You can't call Kojima a piece of shit for being cultivated in a society that still has a relatively long way to go when it comes to women, that's just how the culture is, you can't blame someone for being raised in a generally misogynistic culture.

    I bet plenty of Muslims in the middle east are calling us Americans Pieces of shit because we show the bare legs of women on TV, it's a relative culture thing but it's not our fault that we don't pertain to their standards, if anything, America is an incredibly conservative country that goes ape-shit over naked women and presidential blowjobs. And despite the fact that I despise MGS4 with all my heart, I don't think Kojima is a piece of shit because of the poor writing and the perceived "Misogyny" is simply a product of his own culture.

    Writing is a lonely thing and I'm sure Kojima suffers from the Lucas effect, which has NOT only affected him, but affected the writers of Simpsons, South Park, Futurama, Family guy, Shrek, Hangover, etc. which makes funny shows stop being funny. Sewing bombs into people only to kill them off later seems stupid only when people on the outside look at it, but you gotta have compassion for the shell that writers are constantly in, they live in a world that is very hard to observe themselves and thus alot of their ideas may seem brilliant to them but not brilliant to others...Although Johhny X Meryl is about as unforgivable as Jar Jar binks

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