Hideo Kojima is a notoriously difficult figure to profile. Access alone is a huge hurdle most journalists will never clear. Those who do still have to grapple with weaving together meaningful observations, commentary, and insight on a man whose work defies rational explanation. Over at The New York Times, Adrian Chen profiled Kojima and his most recent game, Death Stranding, in one of the better profiles I’ve read.
Most video games are massive, collaborative undertakings done by teams of hundreds. It’s rare for one person to be the face of a game, let alone an entire studio. Kojima is one of the industry’s few auteurs. His name is just as much, if not more, of a selling point than the projects he works on. His strange and high-profile departure from Konami, following the cancellation of his take on Silent Hill, has only amplified the interest around him. As Chen explains:
It is not easy to sum up Kojima’s oeuvre. There are really two ways of looking at him, and they don’t totally fit together. The first is that Kojima is a brilliant innovator who has managed to consistently expand the notion of what video games can be for more than three decades ... But then there’s that second, trickier story: about Kojima the egotist, a man grown too infatuated with his own ideas.
In between an examination of Kojima’s work and life, Chen also addresses, albeit briefly, Kojima’s handling of women. From writing plotlines that involve forced statutory rape and bombs inserted into women’s bodies to characters like Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain’s Quiet — a woman who breathes through her skin, and therefore runs around in only a pair of ripped tights and a bikini — Kojima’s track record with female characters ranges from utterly nonsensical to downright offensive. Still, on the topic of criticism over Quiet, Kojima’s answer leaves a lot to be desired.
He seemed to acknowledge that his thinking had evolved, even while defending the way he did things in the past. “Entertainment moves on with the era,” he said, adding: “Of course, I can’t do the same thing today. The era is moving; it’s totally different.”
By the end, we still don’t have clear answers as to who Kojima truly is or what motivates him — and frankly, it seems like we never will. That’s part of what makes Kojima appealing.