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According to the auteur theory, the director a
particular film can also be regarded as its author. Furthermore, films from a
particular auteur have the cinematic equivalent of a fingerprint of that auteur
which distinguish his work from those of others. Although this theory is
usually applied to the world of cinema and film, by extension, it can be also
applied to the world of video games making the designer of the game its author
or auteur with his or her distinct design principles. Hideo Kojima can be
regarded as one of the most “influential” and “innovative” game auteur of our
time – reaching celebrity status in the video game industry. One of the common
traits seen in his games is the influence derived from film and television. He
described himself as a “latchkey” kid who often came home to a lonely house and
had to look after himself on his own. Thus it is of no surprise that he had to
often rely on television to keep him occupied – a habit which had a lasting
impact on him and even influenced his future game design principles and
ideologies. For example, his first major successful project at Konami – “Metal
Gear” was supposed to be a military style action game set during the cold war
era. Typical of the genre convention at the time, it was most likely going to
turn out to be just another “arcade” style action game if it were not for
Kojima. According to Kojima, this arcade styled gameplay which involved running
and gunning was poorly suited for a cold war themed game. Influenced by the
film called “The Great Escape” he designed a new, more suitable style of
gameplay mechanics involving covertness, stealth and sneaking. In the process, he
took the gaming industry by storm and gave birth to the stealth-action genre in
the video game world for the first time – a genre which has an immense fan
following today.

Beyond influences from film and television, a key
trait in Kojima’s games is the level of attention paid to immersiveness and
details. Kojima goes to vast extents to make his games as immersive as
possible. The immersiveness of a game can be defined as the extent to which the
game creates an artificial reality in the mind of the player which he/she can
engage with and escape to when playing the game. Immersion can be broken down
into two types – spatial immersion (immersion with regards to the surrounding environment
and world) and mechanical immersion (immersion with regards to the game’s
mechanics – physics, rules, etc.). Kojima warrants spatial and mechanical
immersion through the use of a technique called intrinsic exposition – a
technique in which every minute element of the game, whether it be the game
controls, mechanics or dynamics are explained as well as make sense within the
context of the virtual game world. This makes the illusion of the fictional
game universe seem almost real and believable. For example, his last game at
Konami, “Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain” is designed to have a realistic
temporal component with alternating night and day progression cycles.
Furthermore, the player has the in game ability to manipulate the perception of
the passage of time – in specific, to fast forward it. In order to make this
“fast forwarding” of time effect seem natural and believable within the game
world, the player has to smoke a “Phantom cigar – a cigar blended with a
medicinal plant (apparently marijuana) which speeds up the perception of passage
of time”. This smoking of a cigar in order to give meaning to the ability to
manipulate time clearly demonstrates how Kojima uses intrinsic exposition in
order to make the game as realistic and immersive as possible.

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Last but not least, although Kojima pays careful
attention to making the game as immersive as possible, we find that it is he
himself who also breaks this illusion by using a game design technique called
“breaking the fourth wall”. The “fourth wall” is a concept in game design which
represents the imaginary wall or boundary separating the characters’fictional game
world from the players’ actual world. Thus, by breaking the fourth wall, Kojima
essentially blurs the boundaries between the actual world and game world.
Although it would seem that the technique takes away from the immersiveness of
the game and makes the player feel he is participating in a virtual sandbox
built to accommodate the characters, the way Kojima approaches this does the
very opposite –in fact Kojima’s approach adds to the immersiveness making for a
unique and mind-blowing experience. For example, while fighting the antagonist
Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid 1, we see him (Psycho Mantis) acknowledge
that he is indeed a part of the virtual game world but at the same time demonstrate
that he can influence the actual real world of the player by reading the save
game data from the memory card and analyzing titles played, threating to wipe
off critical save game data, etc. Normally, opponents and obstacles of a game
exist within the fictional game world, however, using Kojimas technique, the
player realizes that the antagonist although a fictional character in the game
world can have consequences for him in the real world – taking immersiveness to
a whole new level and making the rivalry and enemity personal.  

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