The Ideology of Torture

Mr. Sylazhov returns with his latest guest article the day before the release of Metal Gear Solid V, to examine the extremely important matter of torture, in both the real world and the fictional one Kojima uses to show his views.

The methods, reasons, and history of torture are discussed, along with a personal story that drives home the reality of the barbaric practices used by military and spy agencies around the world.  This article was finished quite a while ago, but I’m publishing it on the eve of The Phantom Pain to emphasize the seriousness of its controversial subject matter.

Warning: Some graphic content follows.

The Ideology of Torture

A personal, political, and philosophical study of torture in the MGS series and the real world

I would like to dedicate the following piece to the victims of
the dictatorship in my country, and to all victims of
political repression from any side of the political spectrum.

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Kojima and the Soviet Union

The following guest article was written by a friend and author, Alexander Sylazhov, who you ought to remember fondly from his Big Boss as Che Guevara article; I titled that article in order to highlight one of my favorite aspects of it, but it certainly went well beyond that.  I’m deeply honored to be able to present his new article, which is the kind of analysis I would love to be able to do myself.  With the upcoming release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain less than a month away, this in-depth exploration of ideology, politics, and pop culture in the Metal Gear series is a fascinating must-read from a talented writer from a different side of the world.

Expect to see more from him soon, and please check out his science fiction novel series if you want to see more from him and support his work.


Kojima and the Soviet Union

An analysis of the political overtones of the MGS series and Hideo Kojima’s ideology



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Jim Sterling on Konami’s supposed madness

Obviously Jim Sterling is not an expert on the inner workings of Konami, but I found this to be an interesting take on the overall changes happening at Konami right now.  He doesn’t focus too much on Kojimagate, but he does lend credibility to the idea that the company might just be stupid enough to burn that bridge in the worst ways:

Kojima says “Metal Gear Saga” consists of games he personally designed and produced

In the nerdy cloisters of the Metal Gear community there’s always been debate over which of the games in the series are considered “canon”, “main series”, “spinoff”, and so on.  Like religious texts, the games have been given various tiers of dogmatic importance, citing interviews, timelines, box sets, and everything else that might hint at what we’re officially allowed to enjoy.  Or something.  It certainly affected my score of Rising.

Kojima has always been evasive about this, because it’s bad for business to drop a game from the official mythology of the series.  It instantly goes from being gospel doctrine to apocryphal stories, so-to-speak.  But now Kojima is finally being clear, in an interview with IGN:

“I always say ‘this will be my last Metal Gear,'” Kojima said, “but the games in the series that I’ve personally designed and produced — Metal Gear on MSX, MG2, MGS1, 2, 3, 4, Peace Walker, and now MGSV — are what constitute a single ‘Metal Gear Saga.’ With MGSV, I’m finally closing the loop on that saga.  In that sense, this will be the final ‘Metal Gear Solid,'” Kojima continued. “Even if the ‘Metal Gear’ franchise continues, this is the last ‘Metal Gear.'””

Is it arguable that games like Ghost Babel, Portable Ops or Metal Gear Rising don’t have to be part of what Kojima calls “a single ‘Metal Gear Saga'” for them to still be considered “canon”?  He doesn’t use the word canon in the interview, but if you really listen to what he’s saying, if MGSV is going to be “the last Metal Gear” simply because Kojima won’t be designing and producing future games, then by definition this makes any non-Kojima game a non-Metal Gear game.

The debates will surely rage on, but with a specific list of 8 games named by Kojima that constitute the definitive Metal Gear Saga, that debate is pointless.

Kept you waiting, huh? [Insert product announcement]

Ever notice how your brain gets a little bit excited and stupid whenever you hear the phrase?  Like a quick injection of Metal Gear anticipation that makes you want to enjoy whatever comes next?  Maybe that’s because we’ve been conditioned to associate it with our favorite memories and products, and now it’s being used to condition us as consumers to act like excitable children at the drop of a hat.  Ravi Singh talks about how badly the phrase has been abused in the new article, “Kept You Waiting, Huh?” is a Corporate Meme.

Personally, I’m a cynical guy, and I’m aware of corporate social engineering, the co-opting of youth culture, viral marketing, and so on.  Hell, I still think about how badly the “Now THAT’S how an assassin operates…!” phrase failed to catch on, with the Peace Walker cross-promotion with Assassin’s Creed:

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker – Assassin’s Creed

I think this is one of the worst examples of trying to force feed Metal Gear fans a meme.  As the beginning of the video says, it was created for “rampant internet consumption”, complete with a big exclamation mark (!) and uses lazy repetition to try to make people go crazy for the novelty of a straw box that you can use to beat up guards with.

The cardboard box is even more iconic than “Kept you waiting, huh?” and we all know that Kojima is hyper-aware of its status in the gaming world thanks to the explosion of box-related items announced for The Phantom Pain not long ago.  It’s much like how diving into a bunch of hay is iconic to Assassin’s Creed.  So to make a collaboration combining these to elements is kind of funny and amusing, I’ll admit; but when you see a 6 minute video jamming the “meme” into culture it just feels gross.  Almost as gross as Kojima and the dude from Assassin’s Creed wearing masks and sneezing, because GET IT, IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE “VIRAL MARKETING”.  So now we’re viral marketing a running gag about how it’s a viral marketing video?  How internet-savvy and meta.  Oh and Kojima throws out “Didju rike it?” at the end, following by Kaz repeating “Now THAT’S how an assassin operates” just for good measure.

I really enjoyed Ravi’s article on the “Kept you waiting” corporate meme, and I recommend checking it out.

E3 2014 trailer on par with Crime & Punishment? Why not.

Was not expecting this.

Look at the special page on the Konami website featuring famous people kissing Kojima’s ass because somebody showed them the first serious story videogame trailer they’ve ever seen, and asked them what they’d like to publicly state about it.

Among the quotes is the director of the movie Drive, who thinks the Kojima is possessed by a 19th Century Russian writer, a 16th Century Italian painter, and American filmmaker Stanley Kubrick rolled into one.  Yes, truly, this one trailer is proof enough that Kojima is on par with revolutionary creators whose grand creations have stood the test of decades and centuries.  He goes on to call the trailer “A daring and bold move from one of the founders of the future of technology,”  which I’m assuming refers to… videogames?  I guess he doesn’t realize violence is the opposite of daring when you’re talking about game trailers, but oh well.

One of my favorite filmmakers, Park Chan-wook, has a more reasonable and intellectually honest comment, stating that Kojima “…has actually been making films in his own way already.  Metal Gear Solid games are already films, the films of the future.”  Which is a really nice compliment, I think.

Then again, this is literally just a trailer they’re talking about.  Isn’t this crazy?  Captain Ahab really wants to hunt down that white whale.

MGR: Revengeance Is A Problem Best Taken Seriously



Have I failed myself, my fans, and the Metal Gear series by not being harsh enough on Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance?  Did I give it a free pass when I should have cut it limb from limb?  Some people think so.

The following is a response I received regarding my review of MGR:R, from a reader named Typocorism, explaining the importance and danger of Revengeance.  My responses are included. 

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