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Kojima's taboo-breaking game: What it could be about

So Metal Gear Director Hideo Kojima is being cryptic again. Yeah, we know, that’s like taking note that oxygen is useful, or that Paul W.S. Anderson films are still shit. But this slice of Koj-ramble is kind of interesting, in that he’s hinted that an upcoming project will deal with such a taboo subject that if he messes it up he’ll ‘probably have to leave the industry’.

So what’s the big deal? What kind of subject matter might he be considering, to cause him to put such emphasis on its sensitive treatment? We've thought about it, both in terms of the current state of games and in terms of Kojima's career so far, and we've come up with these possibilities:

Sex

It’s possible because: We’ve finally got past the point where sex in games is a big deal. Yes, adults play games. Yes, adults are allowed to have sex. Yes, adults are allowed to watch sex. No biggie. But in other media, sex is frequently treated as more than just titillation.

In film and literature it’s often a key plot point used to talk about the psychological states of the characters and their relationships. David’s Lynch and Cronenberg do it all the time. Given that he’s often perceived as the same kind of semi-mainstream avant-garder as the aforementioned film directors, we wouldn’t be surprised if Koj was thinking of taking in-game sex-scenes past the point of filler and titillation, and using them as some sort of relevant narrative device.

Drug culture

It’s possible because: When drugs are referenced in games, it’s usually rare and it’s usually in massively cartoonish terms. Jayden’s drug addiction in Heavy Rain could have been a nice touch, but it was portrayed in too broad strokes and in far too black-and-white a way to be truly interesting.

Other media use drug culture in much more interesting, much more worthy ways. They properly discuss the world around it. They get inside the heads of the characters embroiled in it. They use the perceptions of those characters to tell deeply expressive stories, at times beautiful, at times nightmarish. All of these concepts fit in perfectly with the multi-layered way Kojima constructs his narratives, and a sensitively-portrayed, drug addled protagonist would be fantastic for inciting the abstract perception-whacks and ambiguous story-telling he loves to throw at the player.

Child abuse

It’s possible because: We’ve had child-killing in Heavy Rain, so why not continue into that disturbing area with abuse? Given that no-one bats an eyelid at the gratuitous gory excesses of games these days, we hardly think it’s asking too much to allow an intelligent and story-driven game director to study a dark real-world subject with a bit of sensitivity. How would he do it? Well Kojima likes his tortured, self-doubting characters, so rather than see the events in question depicted in the game, he might use them as a past event responsible for his protagonist’s current psychological make-up. That would be a pretty smart way of dealing with it intelligently, while avoiding any accusations of exploitation. 

Homosexuality

It’s possible because: There’s basically no reason not to. Kojima has flirted with the subject in the Metal Gear Solid series before, and thanks to Rockstar, Gay Tony is now a recognisable character and a recognisable title on the shelves of your local GAME. But if he does this, it’ll have to be a big deal purely because it isn’t a big deal. The time for camp stereotypes is over. If we’re going to have gay game characters, they need to simply be game characters who just happen to be gay, rather than ones defined solely by that fact. But we have every faith that Kojima’s pledge to get this one right means that that’s exactly the angle he’d be taking. 

Mental illness

It’s possible because: Video game discussion of mental illness currently goes as far as cartoon psychotics. When was the last time you saw a depiction of mental trauma more subtle than “OMG I DESTROY WORLD BECAUSE DEMONS MAKE ME DO SO! COME HERE SO I EAT YOUR GUTS”. It’s crap. But a Kojima depiction of mental illness? With his predilection for troubled characters with deep personal motivations? And his penchant for warping the view of reality he feeds to his players and protagonists? Not crap. In fact it could be viscerally thrilling and emotionally profound all at the same time.

26 comments

  • GODSACE - April 18, 2010 6:17 a.m.

    I agree with ^RebornKusabi^ that could definetly be a possible issue for him and basically everything but world-wide 'rape' games(in japan they due have low grade rape games) are probably the only possible taboo.
  • kkokko - April 17, 2010 11:16 a.m.

    I think it would involve killing. murder? suicide? I say MASSACRE. Not just any massacre, but the massacre of innocents. just like the airport part in Modern Warfare 2. just guessing. XD
  • philipshaw - April 17, 2010 9:34 a.m.

    Who knows what he is doing? The man is a genuis
  • zama - April 17, 2010 8:01 a.m.

    judging kojima from his words will lead us to two things , one : his probably leaving the industry after his next project , two : his next project will be so explosive that he will surpass metal gear solid series if he succeed . one of the two thing this project will be the best . probably he will talk about the theory of religion clashes or some thing like that maybe something only kojima want to talk about how knows
  • MagneticDavE - April 17, 2010 6:58 a.m.

    I heard it's going to be called Asian Lane Discipline: "ME GO LEFT NOW!"
  • johngrybos - April 17, 2010 5:48 a.m.

    I think the gay opera that was Zone of the Enders showed how deft Kojima is with homosexual themes.
  • Cyberninja - April 17, 2010 1:31 a.m.

    may in his new game we are forced to do something worse then no russians in mw2
  • BMW89 - April 17, 2010 12:21 a.m.

    What if he doesn't mean a moral/social taboo but something in gaming itself that is taboo? Maybe like mixing two genres that popular wisdom dictates should never be mixed? When I read Kojima's statement, my immediate thoughts went to something more gaming related rather than morality mixed with shock-value related.
  • Mexiflan - April 17, 2010 12:14 a.m.

    Pedophilia maybe? It has to be something really dark for him to say that he'll leave the industry if he f*ck's it up.
  • Imgema - April 16, 2010 11:12 p.m.

    My bet goes to religion(although Silent Hill franchise has religious themes in it). Maybe the new Castlevania he directs could be offensive for religious people?
  • CH3BURASHKA - April 16, 2010 10:43 p.m.

    This is what I love about Gamesradar. News outlets (Joystiq, IGN, Gamespot, etc) report this story. Gamesradar takes it one step farther and provides some unique insight. Granted, Gamesradar is much less of a news site, but I think it's for the best. Keep doing what you do, GR.
  • RebornKusabi - April 16, 2010 10:36 p.m.

    I know what the "taboo breaking game" is... ... Hiroshima from the perspective of a Japanese civilian. Reason why I think this? It's an incredibly touchy subject still, especially in Japan; his games also constantly make allusions to being Anti-Nuclear. Lastly, if he ****'s up the content, subject matter and whatever, he might be considered a pariah and people, especially the Japanese, will instantly hate him. That's my guess ; )
  • andymacsa4 - April 16, 2010 10:02 p.m.

    As per Metal Gear: Incest, Kojima has already touched on incestuous relationships in MGS:2. Otacon has an affair with his stepmother, while his stepsister (Emma) has a romantic attraction to him. I know it's stepmother/stepsister but still...creepy. That's what bugs me about Kojima pushing the envelope. God knows he'll take it a step too far.
  • masterj2k11 - April 16, 2010 8:48 p.m.

    How about a two girls one cup simulator or max hardcore the game. Seriously I must be super jaded cause the above themes would add nothing to video games for me. Kojima just needs to make a new game no matter what the theme or narrative, insteade of continuing to write the mgs series into making any less sense than it already does. That and remake policenauts and snatcher, or at least english updates would be nice. Now hop to it kojima.
  • lukekear - April 16, 2010 7:08 p.m.

    Catholicism: the Ballad of Gay Vicars
  • lukekear - April 16, 2010 7:05 p.m.

    Catholicism: The Ballad of Gay Vicars
  • Hexar - April 16, 2010 6:42 p.m.

    @ ventanger See this is exactly what I'm talking about. For you that incestuous relationship didn't cause any controversy for you. I'm willing to bet there were other comic fans that felt the same way you do. I would also wager there were a few on the other side that actually enjoyed it, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that for many it was at least off putting (honestly I can't really comment on this because I'm not a comic fan myself). The point being that Kojima just put out this blanket statement, his next project will be taboo. Taboo to who? To the Japanese? Okay guess we can look forward to Pubic Hair: The Game! If his aim is to have the broadest appeal as being challenging then he would have to go with the one taboo that is truly cross cultural (or at least MOSTLY so). Again not every person is going to feel the same way about it. But in the end more people share in this taboo than not. And for the record I doubt he will do this. In fact I'd be surprised if he did, as it is quite the sore spot for many. I think he'll probably hit on something that is going to be called taboo like drugs and is really just playing it up.
  • Embolado - April 16, 2010 6:04 p.m.

    Maybe a sequel to God Hand, or Okami. God Hand = Mental Illness/Child Abuse Okami = Drug Trip
  • ventanger - April 16, 2010 5:35 p.m.

    Uhhh... there's incest in comics: Ultimates. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were dating, it wasn't taboo or challenging, it was just stupid.
  • SenatorPepper - April 16, 2010 5:28 p.m.

    I hope to god it turns out to be Super R-Ape.

Showing 1-20 of 26 comments

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