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“First of all when it comes to female characters I myself am male, so in a way you can say the female characters I create are my ideal. It’s kind of my fantasy, these are the type of female characters that I like, so that’s what I make.”

Hideo Kojima, BAFTA Annual Games Lecture 2012

Back in December of 2013 I raised the issue of the portrayal of some female characters in the Metal Gear Solid (MGS) franchise. My starting point for the article grew from Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain’s trailer at 2013’s E3 event in L.A, and subsequent comments made by Hideo Kojima (creator of MGS) thereafter.

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Kojima later tweeted about how he wished for “more erotic” character design, for both cosplaying and commercial reasons. There appeared to be no artistic or narrative merit to his latest creation.

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In a video interview with IGN in December of 2013, Kojima did try to clarify that perhaps how he introduced Quiet to the world was not the best way to do so. A “mistake” in fact.

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He further tried to justify his actions by stating Quiet’s reveal was only done to appease curious cosplayers. These same cosplayers have not been slow in dressing up in Quiet’s minimal outfit (google search if curious I won’t be showing that here) post reveal. Again this appeasement of fans proved to have no artistic or narrative value. Those who question or criticise Quiet’s portrayal Kojima states “will feel ashamed of your words and deeds”. This conclusion we will arrive at once we get to know Quiet and understand her appearance.

Based on what we have seen thusfar and the omission by Kojima that this is his portrayal of the “ideal” female,  I look forward getting to know Quiet. I look forward to discovering why in the middle of the desert we have a relatively young, attractive, well endowed and curvaceous woman, parading around in her underwear, a pair of ripped tights with only a sniper riffle for protection. I look forward to discovering her raison d’être, for what I can only deduce is an odd fashion sense, the love of a powerful gun and an insatiable appetite for vitamin D.

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While Kojima has made attempts to backtrack on the reveal of Quiet and clarify her appearance, he doesn’t condemn his earlier comments or tweets; “The initial target is to make you want to do cosplay or it’s figurine to sell well”.

While a tweet is restricted to 140 characters and things can not always be fully fleshed out in a tweet, it is the 2012 BAFTA Lecture comments that are hard to escape. As much as I admire the MGS series, and Kojima, it is the disturbing reality of his perception of the “ideal” I struggle with. He has fired this bullet and it is not coming back, there is no opportunity to reload it now. So what other conclusion does one arrive at? Quiet’s portrayal is purely for “fantasy” reasons, commercial reasons and has no artistic merit whatsoever.

In the wake of Quiet’s reveal Kojima drew criticism from fellow industry creatives. 343 Industries designer David Ellis commented on twitter “Don’t care if this gets me in trouble. This character design is disgusting. Our industry should be better than this. Industry full of man babies. Ugh.” 

The consequences of Kojima’s actions have been far reaching. In the ensuing months a myriad of articles have appeared online discussing the portrayal of Quiet from various online outlets.

The portrayal of Kojima’s “ideal” women have resulted in critique from many journalists. Most recently in relation to the ending of Metal Gear Solid 5 Ground Zeroes (MGSVGZ) and Paz’s portrayal by IGN’s Lucy O’Brien:

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2014/03/25/whats-wrong-with-metal-gear-solid-5-ground-zeroes-ending

Budding games journalist Ria Jenkins chimes in too, focusing on the heavy handed and misplaced nature of the sexual violence that exists in the MGSVGZ experience. The unsettling content is presented to the audience in the form of tapes entitled “rewards” for fully completing side quests and exploration in MGSVGZ:

http://introskeptive.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/chicos-tape-4/

I have extended the critique to look at the worrying portrayal of not only Quiet, but of other female characters in the MGS universe over the years. A worrying pattern is at play here:

https://thoughtburp.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/quiet-is-no-lady-godiva-a-metal-gear-solid-5-update/comment-page-1/

In January and February of this year, Kojima shared images of the impending Quiet figurine via Twitter. The images made no attempt to further clarify what Kojima had referred to as a mistake previously. They didn’t alleviate fears or distance Kojima from the allegations of sexism lobbied at him. The images showed a figure based on the portrayal of Quiet from 2013’s E3 and reinforced the “more erotic” tone he was looking to capture. One might argue that erotic term he speaks of is a more palatable term for pornographic.

 

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A recent Kojima Station episode featured a sizeable content on Stefanie Joosten (the actor portraying Quiet) who is on a “mission” to infiltrate Kojima headquarters to gather intel on The Phantom Pain (TPP) project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH3WWp-VdGM

In addition to this a discussion thread on Reddit (via user called “winches”) suggests that Quiet might be a playable character in TPP. In an interview with Famitsu, Kojima stated that In the game, Quiet is the main heroine. Whether she is friend or foe has yet to be revealed so I had to be careful when casting her role.”

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The image highlights how in previous games a playable character is often tortured. Could Quiet be a playable character in TPP? The advent of the power of Kojima’s “Fox Engine”, an openworld setting, refined gameplay and a Hayter free Snake, are undoubtedly large changes for the MGS series. The possible presence of a female playable character would be a seismic change in the franchise.

Since the release of MGSVGZ in March little has been shown of TPP. In recent days Kojima has been tweeting that he is currently working on a new trailer for TPP. Could new trailer shed new information on the role that Quiet will play? WIll a new reveal of her be one that changes the publics opinion on her and Kojima’s portrayal of the “ideal” female? Only time will tell, for now Kojima remains quiet on Quiet. Never has silence been so deafening.

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“Kept you waiting huh?”

On Monday 4th 2013 Konami confirmed that Hideo Kojima’s next instalment in the long running Metal Gear Solid saga, MGS 5: Ground Zeroes will release as a standalone game in the spring of 2014.

The game has long been touted as a prelude to full sequel MGS 5: The Phantom Pain. Ground Zeroes has been described as an introduction to the new open world gameplay mechanics Kojima is introducing to the series.

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“Metal Gear….it can’t be!”

The Ground Zeroes ‘game’ will focus on the mission to infiltrate a Cuban prison camp. This camp and mission gameplay seen to date was depicted during the recent TGS video as shown below.

The game has been designed as a large open world playground with day and night times featuring. With the inclusion of the new elements, Kojim hopes players can approach missions in a non linear manner breaking tradition with previous MGS titles.

In serving as a prelude to the Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes will bridge the gap between not only in terms of gameplay but also from a narrative perspective.

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“What the…”

The boxed PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Ground Zeroes will go on sale for £29.99/€29.99. Digital versions of the game will be available for £19.99/€19.99, Konami has confirmed. In addition to the (fast ending) current gen, Next gen versions for The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One digital versions will sell for £29.99/€29.99.

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“Even if a pawn becomes a queen, it is still just a playing piece”

My initial thoughts are mixed. Finally having a release date is an obvious positive, but the price and dubious length of the title causes concern. When one thinks of a prelude one thinks of MGS 2 and the ‘Tanker Section and MGS 3 ‘Virtuous Mission’. While fun and immersive, parts of each respective title and their subsequent playtimes were dwarfed by their lengthy cut scenes. One can only assume that despite the open world nature, this prelude might suffer the same short gameplay length. At the Kojima/Konami suggested retail price one wonders if greed is the real driver behind a split release?

Little Richard once said

“men are so full of greed today, they’ll sell anything for a little piece of money.”

At £29.99 this is in no way a little piece of money for a little taste at Kojima’s latest creation. If anything Kojima should offer the game/demo/tutorial, however you wish to define Ground Zeroes free as a digital download. Kojima (or Konami) could have adopted a similar approach taken with Zone of the Enders and the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo (Tanker Section) and bundled Ground Zeroes with an upcoming Konami release…Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 perhaps? As a huge fan of the Metal Gear series, the constant re-releases in hd format and legacy collections etc etc leaves me jaded and lamenting the almost bi-annual money syphoning approach Konami/Kojima adopted on fans of the series. This is one title I will not be adding to my wish list any time soon. I think Marshall from How I Met Your Mother sums my feelings towards Konami/Kojima best…

words by david rushe

56

“War has changed”

In March at the Game Developer Conference 2013 (GDC) in San Francisco the gaming world finally got confirmation and a glimpse of the hotly anticipated Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (MGSV).

Hideo Kojima will have full creative control over MGS V and will for the first time release a new Metal Gear experience with cross-platform support. The game will utilise the new Fox Engine he and his team at Kojima Productions have been developing for several years now.

From what little we know the game will be released in two instalments. The first being a prologue called; Ground Zeros, a possible digital download, that will introduce players to the new open world style of gameplay. The second instalment; The Phantom Pain, will be a much larger game and will complete the story arch established in Ground Zeros and slot into Metal Gear timeline post Peace Walker (PSP) and pre Metal Gear (MSX).

Old-Snake

“There are still too many things I need to do”

From the GDC much excitement and buzz was naturally generated. The game also produced its own controversial talking point. Strangely the potential use of child soldiers was not the cause of this controversy. Instead it was the little matter of the “voice” (TM pending) of Snake; it appeared that David Hayter was being dropped as the provider of the iconic voice. There is no room for debate Hayter is Snake, but it appears that after 15 years and 9 games the voice and Solid Snake would be giving up his smokes for good…….

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“Well, I don’t believe in coincidences”

In true Kojima fashion he has teased and misdirected both fans and journalists in the run up to this years Pre E3 Event. The phoney Moby Dick studios, the cryptic musings of game developer Joachim Mogreen and the esoteric Phantom Pain title that have wetted many gaming appetites. What has been most surprising has been the apparent “honesty” of Hayter, possibly the best misdirection of all.

Ever since his passionate and beautifully crafted letter to the fans, doubts have been raised about its legitimacy. The farewell letter was released on April 1st afterall…..

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Recent twitter correspondence from @davidbhayter account leads to one conclusion….

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and

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The man must be a troll. But a loveable troll at that!

Commencing Operation Snake Greeter

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What will we learn from the Konami Pre E3 event later today? PES 2014 is certainly looking and sounding good, is it ready to take its crown back from FIFA? Will Castlevania 2 deliver in the same way it’s predecessor Lords of Shadow did? Perhaps they will, hopefully they will, but the real reason for watching is MGSV. What I personally hope to gain rfom today’s show is two fold; confirmation on the release date of MGSV and most important of all, is Hayter returning?

My guess would be yes. If MGSV is to be Kojima’s much vaunted “last Metal Gear” game then why not have all the ingredients to create his opus? Who wants to create something brilliant only to stigmatise it as the videogame equivalent of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service?

I am not a gambling man, but if I was, I would happily place some money on Hayter popping up from a cardboard box to state “kept you waiting huh?” during the show later today.

The Konami Pre E3 Show is streaming on the Konami and Gamespot websites at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. GMT

Follow me on Twitter @davidrushe

words by david rushe