After Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions announced Death Stranding’s “Very Easy” mode for all the “game journos” and people with skill like Dean Takahashi, a new interview has landed on the web that features Kojima explaining his take on movies, games, and what monozukuri means to him in the games industry.
The lengthy interview comes from publication site ft.com. The website dives into why Kojima is interested in both film and video games, and why he aims to merge the two through his style of work.
Of course, if you wish to read the full write-up, you can by heading on over to the given link.
The publication site jumped on the topic of merging games and film, and the narrative and visual rhythms of both. Kojima says the defining moment popped up when he was a child in Kansai spending long, unsupervised hours taking in all available methods of storytelling:
“In my childhood, there were no good teachers or adults around me. I was disappointed in them. But I discovered amazing tales by reading novels or watching movies: they moved me, and I moved forward. The stories helped me when I was lost in life.
But at that point, I began to realise the possibilities that came with making things. And it’s not that I’m only creating the things that I want to make. The reason why I want to make things is that, through my past experiences, I know I can influence and help others who I haven’t even met.”
The website makes mention of Kojima believing video games have an impact on a new generation of filmmakers. Despite Kojima saying he constantly receives requests to direct movies but always turns them down, he sees a lot of visual creators influenced by games media:
“The thing that surprises me is that all the visual creators in their thirties…grew up as gamers. People who first came into contact with stories through games, or found out about the profession through games, are now making films. I find that fascinating because I am the opposite: I came to films first but now I make games.
There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all.”
Later in the interview, Kojima agrees that he got into games for their potential as a creative medium, but he takes a more “practical” view than some of his fans would like or think. Kojima believes what he does is an “art-driven service industry” or what sushi masters do where their dishes may be elegant, but nutrition or nourishment is their goal:
“If you take something that looks like a banana and give it the title ‘apple’, that works as art. But it doesn’t apply to games. We are making things that are interactive. A banana has to be edible after you peel the skin. Cars have to be drivable. For games to be interactive and to deliver the enjoyment, there has to be a reality where there are lots of people backstage making it all happen. That is us – a kind of art-driven service industry.”
Moreover, Kojima brought up some of the challenges he encountered in trying to convince his peers the confluence of games and film was achievable. However, he admits his early requests to put Hollywood actors or celebrities into games as playable characters were unrealistic to upper management frustrating a fresh college graduate Kojima:
“When I first joined the company after graduating from college, it was so difficult to convince others what I really wanted to make.”
Fast forward to now, the practice monozukuri or monodzukuri — which means “thing making” or “craftsmanship” — for Kojima still means the same as it did before:
“Now I have my own studio, but what I want to do is the same as before. I want to do monozukuri. Game designing is a holistic thing for me. Working with all the designs, stories, concepts, graphics and sound. That is the meaning of game designing.”
Another highlight in the interview showing Kojima’s affection for film and games sees him frustrated with the technical limitations with hardware and software back in the day, and how a place like Konami may not have been for him:
“If you fired across the screen in Metal Gear, your bullets would start to vanish because of the limited number of sprites [graphic display elements]. Looking back, [Konami] at that time wasn’t the right place for someone like me who wanted to make films, but I sensed that games had enormous potential.”
Sticking with games, we now have Kojima Productions working on Death Stranding, which mixes elements of film and interaction. Kojima sarcastically jokes that he doesn’t even know what the game is about when asked what fans can expect from the forthcoming 2019 title:
“Death Stranding… even now, I don’t understand the game. Its world view, gameplay, they are all new. My mission is to create a genre that does not currently exist, and which takes everyone by surprise. There is, naturally, a risk in that…”
Death Stranding is due out on November 8th, 2019, for PS4.