Video game designer Hideo Kojima, best known for his creation of the Metal Gear Solid series, attended "The Art of Video Games" exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum last Saturday. There he answered questions about his start in the video games industry, discussed the movie that influenced his most famous work, and expressed his thoughts on video games as an art form.
Kojima described how his attempts to become a filmmaker and also a novelist led him to his calling. "When the Famicom came out, I became addicted to it right away," he said. "I started playing all these games and became obsessed with it. It's at that time that I really felt the potential that was hidden in this new medium and I felt that maybe if I can't go to the movies, I can look into this new medium and find success there."
Although Snake from Metal Gear Solid shares a partial name and likeness with the protagonist Snake Plisskin of the 1981 film Escape from New York, Kojima credits the early sixties' war film The Great Escape as a major influence. "In the movie The Great Escape, there's that scene where Steve McQueen is trying to escape from the Nazi camp. You're wondering if he's going to get spotted and there's a lot of tension there and you're just watching it on screen, watching the action unfold. You're just feeling that tension as an observer so I wondered, 'What would it be like if you were actually there? What if I could simulate this somehow in a game and have it be interactive?'"
When asked whether he'd ever consider making a movie based on the series, the game director said, "If it were to be made into a movie it would have to be something completely new. I wouldn't use my current scripts. I think I'd have to get somebody to get a new script and somebody else to direct it as a movie." He then added, "This is always something in the back of my mind, so I'm always thinking about it. I can't really say too much right now, but I'm working on something and I hope in the near future I'll have something to announce."
Kojima also acknowledged that while video games do have a place in art, their nature as an interactive medium prevents them from truly fitting conventional standards. "One contradiction that I would like to point out is that in traditional art painters can do a portrait and push their views on the viewer," he said. "The painter has total control over what they're showing to the viewer. I think that's what art has been up to this point. For games you can't really do that because they're interactive … You can't completely push your vision on the player."
"The Art of Video Games" will complete a six-month stay at the Smithsonian American Art Museum before starting a national tour.
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