Just as my love for anything drawn by Ross Campbell is well known (and Kevin Wada covers) so is my distaste for games touched by Hideo Kojima. It’s solely because of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes that I was forced for the first time to type the phrase “vagina bomb”. It just doesn’t sit well with me. So I’ve been interested in the development of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, just to see if history would repeat itself.
The first whiff of sexism surrounding The Phantom Pain came from the early information regarding the game’s new female sniper, Quiet. She looks like this:
On twitter, Hideo Kojima himself took to explaining the look of this new character saying, “I’ve been ordering Yoji to make the character more erotic, and he did it well.” Quiet is certainly erotic – perhaps the most sexualized female character in video games that I can easily recall. She’s even worse than a majority of comic book superheroines that come to mind, which is really saying something. Realizing that perhaps something got lost in translation, Hideo Kojima further explained his intentions with the design of Quiet via this video form IGN.
He points out that much thought has gone into the design of Quiet, not only her visual look but also her background and formative life choices, saying that once her story is revealed all will be made clear. Without further details, many fans have taken to crafting wild theories for why Quiet dresses the way she does. For example, many western gamers have postulated that Quiet is actually Chico, a character from Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes after he undergoes a sex change due to the psychological trauma he experiences at Skullface’s hands (though this theory was recently refuted by Stefanie Joosten, the actress that plays Quiet).
Until the new game comes out, it is difficult to judge the character, no matter how repugnant I personally find her attire. However, there is one moment from Hideo Kojima’s video explanation of Quiet that immediately came to mind while I was watching the Gamescom Gameplay Trailer for The Phantom Pain. After Kojima berates his audience for prematurely judging Quiet, he goes on to say, “We’re not a game company that would just show a hot girl without reason.”
Yet, the reasons that Kojima and his studio has for including images of hot girls in Metal Gear Solid 5 are not necessarily good reasons. In the the new footage of the game from Gamecoms, players were introduced to new uses for the box item. Previously players have been able to use it as cover, but the new game allows more versatility for the cardboard item.
One of these new uses is the addition of stickers. One such sticker is that of an enemy soldier saluting, which will further disguise the player inside the box at long distances. The other sticker, an image of an attractive woman in a bikini, beckons enemy soldiers closer to kill them more easily – this is demonstrated around 1:29 in the video below.
So Kojima and Kojima Productions have no problem showing an image of a hot girl as long as it serves as a tactical diversion for the player. It is a reason, but it’s not a reason gives me any confidence in expecting a decent explanation for the way Quiet will be represented within the new game. In fact, after the way the female character Paz was treated in MGS: Ground Zeroes, it’s difficult to have any faith that Quiet will enjoy a better fate – although almost anything would be better than death by vagina-bomb.
Overall, this new footage means I’m still not holding out any hopes that Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain will diverge from the gross exploitation of women featured in Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. Instead, I’ll turn my attention towards the new Silent Hill game and hope that Guillermo Del Toro’s influence can help soften the brunt of Kojima’s vision.