At the 2015 Game Awards, we were made aware of the current relationship between Konami and Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima. Geoff Keighley informed the crowd that due to legal action from Konami, Kojima was barred from attending the event and receiving an award for his most recent game, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.
This is bad
This is very bad and it’s scary for the future of games.
The idea of the auteur artist, creating worlds and destroying our expectations in video gaming has been dying from being suffocated by the big time AAA games industry that have taken over in the past decade. With money becoming the dominating factor in the creation of games, we are at risk of a massive brain drain in the industry. People like Kojima and Ken Levine are our modern day artists and the people that refuse to compromise when it comes to their art. The stories are hand written, the keyboard is their pallet and they paint masterpieces with pixels. Today, though, too many times do we hear stories about corporate boardrooms voting on story elements, forcing multiplayer in games so to claim “replayability” and chopping a game to pieces so they can sell it back to us as part of a season pass. The corporate bottom end has infected games so much that now we saw the unthinkable, they are actually trying to kill the connection between artist and their art.
Konami barring Kojima on the surface seems like it’s just Konami continuing their path towards overthrowing EA as the most hated game company on the planet, but it has a shock wave that it will send throughout the games industry. It is now possible (and legal) for a company to remove an artist from the art they create. Konami did this with the box for MGSV and taking off any mention of Kojima from the packaging but at the Game Awards they advanced it to a new level. By exerting that kind of pressure, they were able to make a dangerous public statement. They were able to say “You don’t create, we do. We just pay you to use our things”.
As video games already struggling to establish itself as an art form, we are at the crossroads of what determines the future of the medium. We need new writers, animators, and artists. We need new blood to infuse a youthfulness back into the medium and push it forward. We need creators wanting to share their creations to the world. We need the change that keeps our medium relevant.
Konami doing this is the kind of thing that will drive off those people. They made it loud and clear that creativity is not what is needed but an army of yes men who will take the boardroom ideas and make the same six games that we have all been playing for the past 10 years. They have shown us how far they are willing to go to keep their stranglehold on the properties we love so dear. Don’t you believe me? Take a look at how they launched Silent Hill HD and that will tell you how much they actually care about their games.
Hideo Kojima is one of a very few left in the industry where he sees games as the medium for which he can create his vision. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not but it’s the fact that the man has done what he can to prove that the kind of stories he tells in games are possible to pull off is reason enough for us to laud him. Regardless whether you enjoy his games or not, Kojima is a person we all owe thanks to because he has helped define so many things in our games today. He is the hero we never knew we wanted, the hero we deserved and he deserves better than what Konami is trying to do to his legacy.
Thank you Hideo, may you do well in all your future endeavors.
From Biloxi MS, college in Hattiesburg, lover of video games, B movies and suplexing bears through tables.