This Week in Video Game Things That Are Pissing Me Off

So, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is upcoming for the PS3 and PS4. That’s probably pretty exciting news, and the game will serve as capstone to the MGS era of Hideo Kojima’s career. So, a reasonably big deal. In case you didn’t see it, here’s the trailer from E3:

quiet_kojima_mgsvOkay. So, the other day, a funny thing happened. Dan Ellis, who works for 343i, a game developer known for its work on the Halo series, got on Twitter and called out Kojima on some new character design. MGSV will feature a sniper character, supposedly fairly important to the story, named Quiet. She appears to the right. Ellis referred to the character design as “disgusting,” and would later go on to tweet that he was in an industry “full of man babies.”

Now, it’s obvious to me how sexualized this character design is. “Quiet” is in a bikini and torn fishnet stockings, with combat boots and combat gear. As a sniper, this serves no advantage, it offers no protection; it doesn’t act as camouflage… it serves purely as eye candy. To give you some context, Ellis’s remarks came after a series of tweets by Kojima indicating that this was intentional. Kojima tweeted last Wednesday that he’s been instructing his art director, Yoji Shinkawa, to make the characters “more erotic,” indicating that he thought this would encourage cosplay and sell figurines. He was even so kind as to post a suggestion of what such a cosplay might look like here:

Some defenders of Kojima shot back at Ellis, questioning his involvement with the nude appearance of Halo’s Cortana, arguing that he didn’t have a position from which to criticize others.

There’s a whole big Twitter argument to be explored, but I think that it misses the point. Whether or not Ellis had the moral standing, or whatever, to comment on Quiet’s appearance, he was right. This character design has openly prioritized the potential for sexy cosplay over character design that seems to make sense for the game. What bothers me the most about this is its potential to alienate certain players, namely women. Certainly, I can’t speak to the opinions of any or all women, but it’s clear to me that this character design is just unnecessary and that Kojima has given no thought to female gamers in this other than their potential to show off their collective ass. There’s a certain level of audacity in addressing female fans of your game only to suggest how they might best objectify themselves in line with his instructions.

Ugh.

I’m left with a fair amount of distaste, and one important question, which one helpful Twitter user has already asked for me:

4 thoughts on “This Week in Video Game Things That Are Pissing Me Off

  1. Pingback: Shhhhh! It’s Quiet- Kojima’s answer to ‘Sexy’ | Thestartbutton

  2. David Ellis is a good guy and is known for standing up for women’s and gay’s rights (or at least commenting on it.) He wasn’t able to attend his scheduled panel at PAX Prime this year, but many of the other Halo community managers on the panel commented on how he swiftly deals with anti-gay sentiment on the forums and in the community. I’m not surprised he took issue and spoke out, but I definitely don’t think it’s the same thing as cortana.

    • I agree. I don’t think that Cortana was as sexualized as Quiet, in any of her appearances. To decide that just the absence of clothing equals sexualization reflects a problem with our societies relationship to the human body.

      Furthermore, at no point did Ellis say “Hey, cosplayers, get naked and paint yourselves like Cortana for my amusement.” And the troubling word “erotic” was never used. It’s totally a plank/splinter situation, if you know what I mean.

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