Hideo Kojima Interview

After three and a half years of hard work, "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots" is finally complete. Director Hideo Kojima talks about the passion that went into the project, and the techniques he used to turn his vision into a reality.


Q: "Gene", "meme", and "scene" have each been themes of previous MGS titles. Can you elaborate on that?
MGS has an "anti-war, anti-nuke" message throughout the series, but its main theme has been what we should and ultimately do pass on to future generations. MGS1 talks about genes, and in MGS2 you have memes, or the information that isn't encoded into our genes.
Originally that was going to be the entire scope of the theme, but when we decided to do MGS3 I thought about exactly what it is we should pass on. Even if you want to pass on the rightmemes, the criteria for selecting those memes changes with the times. For instance, in the Heian period, women with jowls were considered beautiful, but that isn't the case nowadays, is it? I set the game in the past in order to examine that selection process.
Q: The theme of MGS4 is "sense". What exactly does that mean?
Once again I'd intended for MGS3 to wrap up the series, but so many people wanted to know what happened after "2". Things like the identity of the Patriots and so forth. I had planned on leaving those mysteries as mysteries, but people weren't convinced that the series was wrapped up.
So ultimately we ended up making "4". When work started on it, though, I began to wonder if my message of what we should pass on to future generations had truly gotten through, both to players and my team. After all, I've been conscious of the fact that this really is going to be my final Metal Gear, which means the team is going to have to continue the series themselves after I step away.
However, it hit me that maybe there are some things you can't pass on. A person's will, thoughts, and emotions aren't encoded into their genes, and they aren't a part of memes either. If you group together those remaining factors, you're left with a person's sense, and that's the theme of the game this time around.
That's why this is definitely my last Metal Gear and the end of Solid Snake's story. There probably will be a Metal Gear Solid 5, but it'll more than likely have a different world, characters, and story.
Q: Do you think one's sense truly can't be passed on?
I think that even though you might not be able to describe something in words, it's important to show it indirectly. No matter how often a parent tells their child they shouldn't misbehave or that they should smarten up, the child usually doesn't listen, do they?
So I had Snake, who continues to fight despite his age, live by example instead of offering a direct message. It's like a father going out and working hard every day to provide for his child rather than simply telling them he loves them. In the game Meryl and other characters tell Old Snake he doesn't have to fight, that they'll take over for him. But Snake continues to fight. That's what he wants to pass on. Of course, they may not realize it while he's still alive.
Q: The image of Old Snake and the "sense" theme dovetail together, but which came first?
I'd say neither came first. These two ideas born simultaneously but separately just fit together nicely, though perhaps in my mind the two had been connected from the start.
You also have an older EVA and Liquid, whose actions have forced others into action. It's the responsibility of the older generation to fix those mistakes, and then the younger generation grows up witnessing them taking that responsibility. That nuance is part of the reason the game has these older characters in it.
Q: Would you say Old Snake has the same mindset as yourself?
Yeah, I'd say he does. We're both old but we both think we have nice asses for our age (laughs).
Interviewer: Etsu Tamari