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In defense of Hideo Kojima

By Alex Sferrazza
On March 25, 2014

Hideo Kojima, the man behind one of gaming's most revered (and controversial) series "Metal Gear" is no stranger to controversy. Kojima's 1998 blockbuster hit for the Sony Playstation "Metal Gear Solid" was one of the earliest examples of the modern adult-oriented video game. Not "adult" in the sense that the content was overly inappropriate but in that the plot of the game dealt with mature themes and subject matter including terrorism, government conspiracy theories and the psychological trauma of warfare. The title was years ahead of its time in this regard and it stands as a testament to Kojima's willingness to break boundaries and shake up the status quo.
16 years later, the man is at it again.
"Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes" the first act in Kojima's latest masterpiece released last week to critical acclaim and perhaps even more unsurprisingly to a fair share of controversy.
The ending cutscene to the title features a character who has been implanted with an bomb and we are subsequently shown an extremely graphic scene in which the subject is opened up (without anesthetic) and the explosive is removed by hand.
If that image sounds gratuitous, it is.
Many critics have quickly condemned the scene for being over the top, unsolicited and wholly unnecessary.
To these detractors I ask a simple question: where the hell have you been for the past 16 years?
The "Metal Gear Solid" series has featured numerous similar scenes over the course of its history, from torture sequences to limb severances and more. Its not as if this type of scene is a completely foreign creation.
Granted, the scene in "Ground Zeroes" is far more graphic than anything we've seen before for the series but nonetheless i stand by my argument.
Additionally, these critics fail to recognize the significance of the scene's inclusion. Hideo Kojima's goal is not to "shock" the audience or include violence for violence's sake, nor has that ever been his intention (most "Metal Gear" games can be completed without killing a single enemy and the series is based around a profound anti-war message). Rather, the man is bravely attempting to do what no other developer has yet done: provide an accurate (and uncensored) depiction of the brutality of warfare in the video game medium. In this regard, the content should be considered no more inappropriate than scenes in graphic war film's such as "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List."
Again the argument could be made that those film's are based upon the real life event of World War II and therefore should be considered in a different class from a work of heavily modified historical fiction such as "Metal Gear." But, why? Should the content of artistic works be judged differently solely based upon whether the content depicts an actual event or a fictionalized one?
I would certainly hope not.
Perhaps because the video game medium is still in it's comparative infancy and still attracts its fair share of controversy it is held to a different standard from other forms of media.
"Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes" is nothing less than a pure work of art for the 21st century. It can be brutal, but as long as parents are mindful enough to keep this type of content away from their children, Kojima and his team should once again be lauded for their willingness to lead the industry into uncharted territory.

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