Even with no prior knowledge of the career and upbringing of game design luminary Hideo Kojima, one could easily tell the influence that Japanese and American films have had upon his games just by playing them. Kojima's cinematic inspirations were a subject of discussion during a panel held during GameFest, a celebration of the opening of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's video games exhibit.
Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima wants to make a movie, which shouldn't be too surprising to anyone who's ever played one of his heavily film-influenced games. During his panel GameFest, a celebration of the opening of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's video games exhibit, Kojima talked about his background in films, as well as a potential future film project which may soon be revealed.
Kojima explained to the audience that his original ambition predated the arrival of the Nintendo Entertainment System upon which Metal Gear would be released.
"To be honest, what I really wanted to become was a movie director," Kojima explained, via a translator. "But of course, back then, it wasn't as easy as taking, filming a movie and editing it digitally like you can do now, distributing it online via the web, so it wasn't very easy for me to film my own works. So, I remember stressing over this fact, how can I become successful in the movie industry?
"So what I decided to do was do what I could by myself, which was write books, novels. So I thought maybe the best way to do this would be to write novels on my own, then get it picked up."
He modeled his goals after Sylvester Stallone, who wrote Rocky before it was picked up, and before Stallone himself was cast as the star. While he was working on his adaptable novel, the Super Famicom was released in Japan.
"When the Famicom came out, I became addicted to it right away," Kojima said. "I started playing all these games, and just kind of became obsessed with it. It was around that time that I felt the potential that was in this medium, and I thought, maybe if I can't go into movies, I can go into this new medium and find success there."
His inspirations didn't just come in the form of films, though a side-by-side comparison with Blade Runner and Snatcher might make it seem like movies had the biggest impact on his early works. The anti-war, anti-nuclear proliferation themes that penetrate his Metal Gear Solid series, for instance, actually came from his parents, who were present during the Tokyo air raids.
He said he was also inspired by the games of his fellow legendary designers, specifically naming Miyamoto's Super Mario Bros. and Chahi's Out of this World as two of his favorite classic titles.
Though he's made a name for himself in the gaming industry, Kojima explained that he hadn't completely abandoned his dreams of being a film director.
"I want to make something that will be the best moment of my life."
"Honestly, I'm a big movie fan, it's very special to me and, honestly, I would love to make a movie some day," Kojima said. "But that said, I think it has to be a certain, special game that has to provide the right setting.
"But I don't think that game will be Metal Gear Solid," he added, "and the reason why is that Metal Gear Solid was developed specifically to become a game. It has a world and story that's well suited and optimized for a game. In my mind, Metal Gear Solid is a game and nothing else. So, I think if I were to create something that would become a movie, I would have to come up with a new story, new characters, something that's suited to the medium of movies."
Sensing the audience's disappointment, Kojima added that if Metal Gear were to get the movie treatment, it would have to be "something completely new," and not an adaptation of one of the series' current installments.
"This is a question I get asked a lot, 'Are you going to make a movie,'" Kojima said. "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 that in the near future, I'll have something to announce."
Kojima was similarly tight-lipped about his next video game, only taking time to respond to complaints that the Metal Gear Solid series sports cutscenes that are, in some cases, as long as actual movies.
"I think I have this reputation for having these, kind of long cutscenes," Kojima said, pausing for audience laughter, "and I'm told that a lot, but I just want to say that, moving forward, I'm experimenting with new ways of telling a story. In my next game, I think you can expect, maybe a little less of the cutscenes.
"But that said, there will still be a narrative, and I'm experimenting with telling that story in a way that's free. So you'll still be able to experience that story, but you'll do it, you'll control the pacing, and you'll be free. That's what I'm experimenting with right now for my next project," Kojima said.
"I think this year, next year, I really can't say too much, but I'm working on something that I think will become the shining moment, the shining point in my career," Kojima said. "I'm going to be 50 next year, so I think while I'm still in my 40s, I want to do something. I want to make something that will be the best moment in my life."