Westworld has a pretty close connection to video games, with developers like BioShock’s Ken Levine helping showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy figure out how to implement a gaming style of thinking into the show. Levine isn’t the only developer that’s explored Westworld’s philosophies, however; Hideo Kojima recently offered his own thoughts on the series.
Kojima tweeted about the second episode of the series, and highlighted Dr. Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) reasons for why guests return to the Westworld theme park. In the scene, Ford says that visitors want to explore time and time again because of the subtleties that they may have missed during their first Westworld experience.
Watched "Westworld" E2. What Anthony Hopkins said in that story was an exact theory of my game design. pic.twitter.com/KbJaXQ5N8b— HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) November 1, 2016
“They discover something they hadn’t noticed before, something they fall in love with,” Ford says.
Ford adds that people also become attached to the idea that they can explore a different side of themselves that they have to keep hidden. It’s because of that freedom and fantasy that they find it hard to leave the park and disengage from the person that they become inside the walls of the theme park.
Kojima said that Ford’s beliefs on why Westworld is as successful as it is are exactly like his own game design theories. One of the many aspects of Kojima’s games that his fans praise him for are the Easter eggs that they often discover during a second or third play through of a Metal Gear game. Although Kojima is best known for extended cut scenes and linear-storytelling, the designer provides players with a chance to rediscover things that they may have missed previously.
For example, in the first Metal Gear Solid, there's a torture scene involving Snake and Revolver Ocelot. The number of shocks Snake gets corresponds to the difficulty level chosen by the player. The dialogue also changes, becoming more aggressive on higher difficulty settings.
Showrunners Nolan and Joy have spoken at length about how much the show takes its cues from games, especially open-world titles like Red Dead Redemption and BioShock. Nolan has said that they were interested in creating a world that didn’t punish its visitors for living out their fantasies and allowing them to become the person they want to while in the theme park.
To understand how decisions in a game work, how different players act and how that information can be applied to Westworld, both Nolan and Joy spent quite a bit of time playing Grand Theft Auto. Whereas Nolan wanted to blast through each mission and get to the end of the game, Joy wanted to take her time and explore, seeing what the world had to offer.