If you want to start a argument simply mention “Hideo Kojima” while having a drink with your passionate “video game inclined” friends. Nobody can stay idle on the subject. Whether you find his games to be a pile of garbage, his stories to be overly complicated or his gameplay design to be originated from the gods bottom everybody has an opinion on the monster that is Hideo Kojima. I certainly do have one. I in fact think of Hideo Kojima has an important name in the game development history.
I have to say that I admire Hideo Kojima for his guts. While everybody was making games about intentionally annihilating everything on the screen, Kojima had the bright idea creating an experience where hiding from your enemies would be key and having a choice between killing and fleeing would be presented to the player. As far as I can think Metal Gear has to be one of the first game to tackle the important implementation of morality into games. To kill or not to kill that was the question and I think this subject is still relevant up to this day. Moral path has then become an increasingly popular game mechanic as the industry searches to turn video games into a mature art form. The fact is that I feel that most games use them slightly wrongly by clearly laying out the different choices available to the player. Think of Mass Effect for example that takes the player by the hand and color codes the discussion tree: red for edgy choices and blue for morally acceptable behaviours. I don’t think real life situations color codes your decisions. If a situation requires you to be edgy you definitely think you did something right… right? Why should a game state this choice is a “red” choice while your thinking it’s a “blue” one. That’s the beauty of Hideo Kojima’s design for Metal Gear Solid. The game gives you a tranquilizer gun very early on to implicitly present you with the choice of simply rendering your targets unconscious or to use a lethal weapon to terminate your enemies. Nothing in the game will tell you that you’re doing a morally wrong action or a bad one filling up a meter or some sort somewhere in the user interface. The only feedback you get for your actions comes at the end of the game where every soldier or terrorist you killed has their name written in the credits. This brings an interesting statement on the nature of warfare (you're killing humans that have lives of their own) a theme that is recurrent in Hideo Kojima’s game.
Kojima should be considered as someone that strives to push the limit of the medium in terms of moral game mechanics but also in terms of immersion and player involvement. If you’ve played Metal Gear Solid you surely remember the encounter with Mantis where he prompts you to put the controller on the floor to showcase his supernatural powers. The controller will start to vibrate causing it to slightly move on the floor. Or this moment where he starts reading and naming some games you have stored in your Playstation’s memory card. Hideo Kojima breaks or should I say shatters the fourth wall by making it so that the game has a physical repercussion in the real world (also forgot to mention finding Meryl’s com number at the back of the actual game box). Little to no developers actually uses this feature to maximize player involvement in games anymore. Kojima also found a way to get gamers to step a toe outside with Boktai, a game that uses the light of the sun as primary mechanic for charging up the protagonist’s weapon. I don’t think I would say something off by stating that Hideo Kojima is a very inventive and creatively interesting game developer.