In an essay published on Glixel, Kojima talks about how the idea of a game that isn’t about fighting and defeating your enemies lead to the original Metal Gear in 1987. Different aspects of his anti-war and anti-nuclear messages were explored in the various Metal Gear games, with MGSV offering players the possibility to choose a nuke free world. Now, with Death Stranding, Kojima wants to create a new experience that is not about fighting enemies with ‘sticks’ (weapons) but about ‘ropes’ (connections). “We don’t need a game about dividing players between winners and losers, but about creating connections at a different level.”
“Through my interaction with users following the releases of Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2, Metal Gear Solid and MGS2, I learned something interesting. Why is our world this way? If war and nuclear weapons are atrocities, why do they continue to exist? Younger generations didn’t know the answer.”
“I decided to portray the era that was the cause of this dilemma in MGS3 (2004). The game is set in 1964 amidst the U.S. and Soviet Cold War. Some young people aren’t even aware that a political state known as the Soviet Union once existed. I felt it was my duty to teach them about this past.”
“What caused the U.S. and the Soviet Union, allies in WWII, to become enemies and build nuclear arsenals against one another? Enemies formed from man-made ideologies. Good and evil. There is no such thing as absolute justice or corruption. I wanted to show and have players experience the fates and thoughts of characters who are controlled by the changing status of good and evil across eras. That is why I made Big Boss, the “evil” enemy of the “right and just” Solid Snake in Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2, the hero of the story. I wanted players to experience what it is like to be called evil, just as Christopher Nolan did shortly after in Dark Knight (2008), in which Batman, the symbol of justice, takes upon the mantle of villain for the sake of Gotham City.”
“MGS: Peace Walker (2010) is set in Costa Rica 1974. Here I wanted players to think about what armed forces and nuclear armament mean in a country that has no military. If nuclear weapons have the power to destroy the world, then why is having them a deterrent? In the end of the story, the hero Snake, chooses to keep nuclear weapons at his Mother Base for this very reason.”
“In MGSV: Ground Zeroes (2014), the Mother Base built in Peace Walker is destroyed by an enemy force, imbuing the player with a sense of loss and a desire for revenge. A relentless enemy leaves the player with nowhere to run, and they are drawn into inescapable conflict.”
“The continuation, MGSV: The Phantom Pain, is the execution of that revenge. Players gather a fighting force and resources to build up an army and secure nuclear weapons as protection. As the player progresses through the game they feel their desire for revenge, and their sense of “justice,” that has been a common thread through the series, begin to waver. Additionally, the online game mode offers players the choice to disarm their nuclear arsenal, with the goal of completely ridding the game world of nuclear weapons. As far as I know, this goal hasn’t been achieved yet, but if we can’t disarm ourselves in the real world, at least the fictional game world offers mankind, the creators of nuclear weapons, the unparalleled “experience” of making the conscious choice to create a nuclear free world. Through this experience, players will come to understand what it really means to take a stand against war and nuclear weapons. Players feel the need to acquire nuclear weapons, but then players across the globe choose to disarm themselves. This experience and its process is the chief aim of Metal Gear.”
Ever since the announcement of Death Stranding, Kojima has mentioned the story ‘the rope’ by Kobo Abe as a source of inspiration, in which two of humankind’s oldest tools, the stick (meant to keep evil away) and the rope (meant to bring that which is good closer), play a role. Kojima relates this to how videogames work as well.
“Fifty-five years have passed since the creation of the early video game Spacewar!, but video games are still primarily players with sticks fighting each other. They cannot break the curse of using sticks to keep evil away, or defeating enemies. I want to change this. It’s time for humankind to take the rope in hand. We are ready for a game not based on competition, but on the rope that will bring good to the player and make connections. We don’t need a game about dividing players between winners and losers, but about creating connections at a different level. My current project, Death Stranding, aims to fulfill this goal.”
“It’s been roughly 120 years since the advent of movies, and 59 for video games. We are still awash in a flood of games where defeating enemies is the focus. It’s time for video games to achieve their Dunkirk, their The Great Escape. We need a game that maintains the essence and fun unique to the medium, but also offers a completely new type of experience. What’s more, the interactive nature of video games means that this new experience will be deeper than movies or other media could hope to offer. At the very least, this is what I believe, and I won’t run from the challenge.”
How exactly connections will play a role in the game is stil unclear. There are the strands that seem to connect different characters with each other, and even vehicles and animals, and it looks like there will be some connection between life and death. But how the whole thing will come together is still a big mystery.
You can read the full essay by following the link in the source section below.