Games will never be considered culture if they don't broach sensitive subjects, Kojima says

Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima says "games will only be games" if developers don't "cross that line"; expects Ground Zeroes to be controversial.

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If games are to be thought of as more than just that--games--they need to broach sensitive subjects, according to Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima. During a roundtable interview with the veteran designer attended by GameSpot, Kojima outlined his vision for how video games can reach the cultural level of movies and books.

"If we don't cross that line, if we don't make attempts to express what we really want to express, games will only be games," Kojima said. "If we don't try to go beyond that, we won't be able to achieve what movies or novels have achieved. I didn't want to stay away from these things that could be considered sensitive. If we don't go that far, games will never be considered as culture.

Also during the interview, Kojima likened himself and his team at Kojima Productions to the characters from Breaking Bad, who stop at nothing to make their message known.

"In Breaking Bad, I also see that these guys are trying to go to the limit; trying to take it as far as they can to try to get their message across. For us as well. In games we have to go to the limit; we want to stay within this limit of how far...pushing the boundaries of conveying our message. We look around and we don't see too many games like this; that is unfortunate," he said.

For Metal Gear Solid V, the game's central theme is that of revenge. And to get this point across, prologue Ground Zeroes will feature some scenes that Kojima expects will be controversial. That said, he explained that he's not going to tone down the game's content just because some people might take issue with what he has to say.

"One of the main topics of Metal Gear Solid V is this chain of revenge. That is something that I really didn't want to step back from, I really didn't want to go around it," Kojima said. "I know that I will probably face a lot of criticism because of it but I really wanted to portray that accurately."

Finally, Kojima stressed that though Metal Gear Solid V is going to push the envelope, he doesn't think all games need to do this. "I don't think necessarily that all games have to go this far; in our case we have a strong message that we want to convey," he said.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, launches March 18 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

399 comments
sensei_hEnRY
sensei_hEnRY

i hope Kojima could deliver intriguing story like one on Spec Ops: The Line which in my opinion, a third person shooter with the best story ever (and of course the most shocking and creepy one). Following a character's journey to insanity is always a great theme for me, just like in The Line, Call of Duty: Black Ops,  and Far Cry 3. I really wish Kojima would make the same kind of story, driving Big Boss to insanity for his thirst for revenge. Making him do almost anything to accomplish his goal (just like how Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 forced us to be a terrorist and killing innocent people). 


Oh yeah, i see kid soldier in the trailer, although i highly doubt Kojima would make us kill them, i hope MGSV could explore it deeper than any game before

Looiook
Looiook

A very deep sigh at 90% of this comment thread.

tightwad34
tightwad34

Are you trying to speak for the entire industry? I don't think games are trying to be anything other than that. The only thing that matters to me is gameplay. You can take your confusing story, and hour long cutscenes and shove them until you come with a game that you can play that lasts at least longer than the cutscenes.Or  Maybe I have been had by another BS gamespot article.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

Go play Spec Ops: The Line.  Then play one of Kojima's overblown spectacles.


Which one has more social and cultural commentary?  I'd say the former.  The latter, especially as MGS has gone on, is nothing more than another Japanese anime story.


Also, being obsessed with "culture," is a sign that the man is an overgrown child.  You put out your work, let it stand for itself, and the world decides if it's "culture."


Seriously, he's like a gaming Miley Cyrus...

KiriharaZro
KiriharaZro

So if I make a game with a soldier carrying a watermelon and a mute female "soldier" with a bikini in the middle of a battlefield I just made a piece of culture!!! but if I make a game of an italian plumber that steps in turtles then its only a game...

Kojima its becoming stupid more and more...

isshiah
isshiah

That outfit pushes some envelopes, alright.


You can't expect to be taken seriously if you have a character dress so moronicly. Fix that, then we can discuss mature topics at the big boys table.

Brakkyn
Brakkyn

GameSpot should have a segment called "Kojima Says", seeing as how every time he says something, there's a news post about it.

Quiet's outfit is still ridiculous.

iampenguin
iampenguin

Agreed. Now give me the nasty. 

WR_Platinum
WR_Platinum

Bravo Kojima, I like to see games being taken more seriously by the media.

mav_destroyer
mav_destroyer

Maybe if developers stop making 2 hour long games and charging ridiculous prices then they'll be considered culture.

DeFiLeDTitan
DeFiLeDTitan

1. Why does the guy in that picture have a watermelon?

2. Why can't games just be games?

DarthLod
DarthLod

Games aren't culture, they are games. That's it. Why must everything be some social hogwash these days? There is no "gaming community" either.

kainisdead
kainisdead

i am ALSO  100% okay with games not being culture. and why would anyone want them to be.

blackace
blackace

I have two words for Hideo Kojima. SUCK IT!!


I cancelled my MSG5: GZ preorder. Guy has no respect for Western culture or our people at all.

BradBurns
BradBurns

If Kojima really wants games to tackle sensitive subjects,he should start with tackling obvious "sensitive" subjects like "why are we in the Middle East?" and "Why do we happen to back all the worst, most brutal dictators in the world?". Obviously it's all strategic/economical. 

Until he tackles stuff like that I can only see his games as entertainment about cool robots. And by sensitive subjects, I don't mean people being offended by bras, fishnets, or showing too much skin because that's just, well, kinda dumb.

MonstaTruk
MonstaTruk

When I go to MickeyD's, am I looking for a tantalizing meal of exotic flavors with deep nutritional value? Or did I come to get a Double Quarter Pounder? I'm looking for FASTFOOD, should MickeyD's be forced/expected to give me what Red Lobster/Tony Roma gives me? Is it possible to just let the people who've BEEN eating & enjoying MickeyD's continue eating & enjoying what MickeyD's has always been/delivered? Why SHOULD it be something else? Because...YOU say so?

chisei_fuuma
chisei_fuuma

I also think its ok if games is just games, the only thing that needs to be good is graphic and gameplay. But why it is not ok if games also have deep story?


Im someone who like to balance fun and seriousness in my gaming, and i feel that games with deep story other than MGS is only Kingdom hearts and The last of Us, and of course i think that is very little

TheLeftHandDoom
TheLeftHandDoom

uh, you've heard of "Mario" right?  You don't think that's part of our culture?  Aside from the overt racism of an Italian plumber fighting Goombahs while jumping into sewer pipes,  what sensitive subject did Mario cover?

Nepti
Nepti

Do games really need to be more than games? Maybe they do? I don't know. I don't think they do. But games are already part of our culture. When you have so many people who buy gaming hardware, play games, kill and mug each other for PS4s and Xbox Ones, when the industry rates itself to help parents choose wisely, and when politicians point out gaming as hurting or helping young minds... these are all pretty clear indications gaming is part of our culture.

ANUBISZER0
ANUBISZER0

That watermelon is controversial!

FBohler
FBohler

Am I the only one who's ok with games being just... games?

Games are meant to be games, not paid demos (that one goes for you Hideous Kojima)!

Shewgenja
Shewgenja

I agree with him.  He has the star power in the games industry to pull it off.  I say go for it.

Poodger
Poodger

Why should I care if they are considered culture or not? I don't play games to express myself or learn about others. I play games for one mind numbingly simple reason: to have fun when I get off work. Whether or not people view them as art or culture or what have you doesn't change that a damn bit.

hadlee73
hadlee73

I agree with Kojima. The South Park game should be uncut everywhere! :P

AmbiguousAlias
AmbiguousAlias

I think there's plenty of room for games that are just GAMES and games that offer something more. Pressing the "taboo" button doesn't mean we have to have 90% cutscene/10% gameplay either. The beautiful thing about video games is they're only limited by imagination. I'm sure developers will come up with fun games that make you think about your own life, and, when you're tired of them, there will always be games that are just plain fun.

Dieknochenblume
Dieknochenblume

Kojima: "sensitivity = sexy half-naked women; culture = violent, crude revenge"


It's not just about pushing controversies harder, or selling demos at AAA prices, but actually providing meaningful ideas and stories in a single, complete can of gameplay.

chisei_fuuma
chisei_fuuma

@Looiook  I still dont understand why people are being so negative over a humble old man's dream for the future....


wonder what Kojima think if he look at this thread, maybe he just laugh at us all...

tightwad34
tightwad34

@KiriharaZro Ha ha, I totally get a bad vibe from him, but I guess he is the holy god to a lot of gamers out there.

tightwad34
tightwad34

@Brakkyn I'm pretty sure there are people out there that would eat his shit if they could.

BradBurns
BradBurns

@Brakkyn  


I don't agree at all. I think that she's a very well designed character all-around. Most of this outrage at the character design was created by Kotaku, in some false attempt to garner views and ad revenue.

Kotaku is a pretty bad site and sort of a blemish and a curiosity in the video games enthusiast press. 

They sort of behave like paparazzi in that they create fake tabloid-esque stories about  nothing and then commence to attack famous developers for shock value. They do it a lot.

bwvictorious
bwvictorious

@BradBurns
He does tackle those sensitive subjects....
I cant explain why without spoilers but I suggest you play the previous games and pay attention to the story lines.

Theres a reason why Naked Snake starts as a loyal soldier and ends up a "terrorist".
Check out what they did to Raiden and why?
99% of metal gear's npcs are seriously messed up.

Metal Gear has always been horribly controversial.

Not Kojima's fault that nobody wants to pay attention.

As for the nudity... have you seen miley cyrus lately? if she can go on public tv then metal gear is fine.
Oh... i forgot... Miley is culture and metal gear is just a game...

chisei_fuuma
chisei_fuuma

@MonstaTruk  Yes they dont have to, But if they give it, will you be angry or will you just take it with a smirk?


That is called "added value" brother :D

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

@Nepti I think there should be room for everything across the entire spectrum.  High-brow stuff for the people who drink their tea with a pinky raised, action stuff for the dudebros, light-hearted games for families, even the occasional crazy-ass party game.  Kojima just strikes me as another insecure games industry person seeking the approval of people who will NEVER like gaming.

cws3e
cws3e

@Poodger  actually it does.  The laws that regulate games are different if they are art, versus if they are not.  If they are not art the government has the right to ban them outright, so if I were you I would care very much that the media be accepted as an art form.

RG923
RG923

@Poodger Literature, film, and poetry can entertain, but they can also enlighten. Art has the ability to teach us how others think, feel, and see the world. That's a very valuable asset. We can still enjoy media while we also learn and improve our capacities for empathy and understanding.

Video games can join those ranks, and they've already made strides towards doing so.

MonstaTruk
MonstaTruk

You miss little boys being anally probed? That's...you? :-/

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

@BradBurns I understand where you're coming from, but come on.  Quiet is dressed stupidly for a sniper.  Even Kojima admitted she was designed that way to sell figures and get women cosplaying her.

BradBurns
BradBurns

@bwvictorious @BradBurns  Actually, I agree with you on all the points you raised. 

I think that Kojima needs to make it more overt. 

It's sort of like our culture has been trained to ignore serious critiques of our foreign policy, even when it's staring us right in the face. You're just not supposed to go there, mentally.

As for the nakedness, I agree with you on that as well. I meant that I find it sort of ridiculous that people are offended by that. I think it's just Kotaku making a big deal out of nothing for views and ad revenue. 


Poodger
Poodger

@RG923 @PoodgerHere is the thing. I teach literature for a living. I don't look for these things when I go home to play video games. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter how society views video games. All that matters is whether or not they accomplish what individuals buy/use them for. And for me, it is to unwind and have fun. This debate about whether or not they should be "considered" as art or not seems rather pointless to me. Art is in the eye of the beholder, I don't understand why people need someone else's verification

hadlee73
hadlee73

@MonstaTruk  haha no actually I'd like to get the version with the sad koala, lol

hikaruai
hikaruai

@Poodger @RG923you sound like a shitty literature teacher...literature is an art, but you don't care how the world sees art?...what a philistine thing to say

FBohler
FBohler

@hystavito @Poodger @RG923  Expecting more than just fun from a game is like blaming the the games for murders and other crimes. It is wrong. Games are meant to be simple and harmless pleasure, not to teach people anything, hence the prevailing fantasy plots which are farther and farther from reality.

BohemiaDrinker
BohemiaDrinker

@Poodger @RG923  I think that Kojima's point had less to do with "what people consider" and more to do with "what you're actually allowed to do in a game". In that sense, I agree with him; I like the "point-shoot-kill" stuff as much as the next guy, hell, I have 550 hours logged on Mass Effect multiplayer alone, BUT I'd also like to have games which deal with more sophisticated, mature or complex themes. Those things are not mutually exclusive, but games are still in a place in which you can only go so far. That IS changing though, only slowly.

 

hystavito
hystavito

@Poodger @RG923  That's a good point.  Why is games being "just games" considered such a bad thing?  I don't really like this notion we are getting lately (especially from gaming press) that certain games are "more", or should be "more".


It's like people want to validate games as an art, but at the same time they invalidate them because of the "more" concept, or at least invalidate like 99% of them.  I've said this many times, I think that whenever you have a consumer product that is also in the realm of art, many people involved fall into this trap, this stuck in the middle situation.


To be totally honest, I would expect someone that teaches literature to fall into it more easily :).  It's very interesting that you haven't.