Designer of the Metal Gear Solid Game Series (March 9, 2005)
The games of the Metal Gear Solid series have established themselves worldwide as some of the leading titles of entertainment software for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 game consoles. Now the latest title in the series, METAL GEAR SOLID 3 SNAKE EATER, is out, and over 17 million copies of the games in the series have been sold around the world. The director of the series is Kojima Hideo, a game producer for Konami Computer Entertainment Japan. Trends in Japan spoke to him about his career so far and his plans for the future.
In 2001, Kojima was one of 10 people around the world spotlighted by Newsweek in the magazine's "Who's Next" feature. Commenting on this distinction and on the recognition he has earned, Kojima says, "At first I thought I'd just been chosen as one of 10 people from the game industry. But my life hasn't changed since that article came out. I still get on the train and ride to work every day without anyone recognizing me. But in Europe and the United States, I can't believe the response I get. Lots of people know my face and approach me. Kids come up and talk to me too; now that's something that only happens when I'm overseas. Or I'll be in a restaurant and the first thing the waiter says to me is, 'I love your game!' Being asked for my autograph is an everyday occurrence. When I get on the plane to go back to Japan I have to flip a switch inside my head. It's tough!"
Starting with the second game in the series, Kojima began producing Metal Gear Solid with the overseas market in mind. But during the development process, he was plagued by doubts as to how well the game would be received outside Japan. He need not have worried. "At the E3 [Electronic Entertainment Expo] show in the United States," says Kojima, "we showed trailers of the game. As soon as the exhibit hall opened, enthusiastic fans came to our booth, sat down, and watched the movie. As we were wrapping up our work for the day and the venue was closing, the same people were still sitting there. When I saw that, it put my mind at ease."
Early Ambitions in Moviemaking
So how did Kojima get started as a designer of games that captivate people all over the world? "What I value most, after clothing, food, and shelter, is movies and novels. Movies give me energy for living. Especially when I was a kid, I was addicted to foreign TV series and variety shows. In high school I started writing novels and making movies myself. Back then I didn't have any money, and some of my efforts failed. But the things I learned day by day are pretty well reflected in the works I'm creating now."
Kojima is scrupulous in creating the kind of games that his fans want: "Games that are set in Japan always end up being small-scale. To maximize the enjoyment that players gain from a game, I like to set my games on a grand stage. That's why the protagonist, Snake, isn't Japanese." Using a car-making metaphor, Kojima explains, "There's no use making a car that people can't fit into."
Asked about the games that he plans to create in the future, Kojima says, "I'll be making new ones for sure. Naturally there's Metal Gear Solid 4 - although, as far as I'm concerned, I have already achieved my initial aim of producing three Metal Gear games in 10 years. I get a lot of movie offers, which is nice, but I refuse them all. Even though I used to want to make movies so much, I think that nowadays games transcend film as a medium. What interests me most right now is creating games. Now and in the future. I want to grow old with games, and with the fans who love them." As he speaks, Kojima's eyes light up like a young boy's. He is clearly determined to continue wowing game fans around the world with ever more spectacular and thrilling creations.
Video game designer. Born in Tokyo in 1963. After joining Konami in 1986 as a game planner, in 1987 he directed his first game, Metal Gear. Released Metal Gear Solid in 1998. In 2004 he received the Life Achievement Award, which is given to artists who have had a particularly great influence on the video game industry, at the G-Phonia event sponsored by American gaming TV channel G4Tech TV. Also known as a movie buff, he works as a film critic and commentator in addition to his job as a game producer.
Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.
GAMING ON THE GO
(February 22, 2004)