“A HIDEO KOJIMA GAME”

Image by KoJima Productions.

“Director’s Cut” is all the frenzy these days in film and video games, and this can largely be attributed to the success of the Snyder Cut, the Justice League film, by Zack Snyder. One director who’s mostly known for including the possessory credit on a majority of his work. Another director known for using possessory credit is auteur video game developer, Hideo Kojima.

Hideo Kojima has slapped “A Hideo Kojima Game” across the main entries of his highly acclaimed and beloved tactical espionage franchise: Metal Gear Solid; As well as his latest game Death Stranding, the first game out of his independent studio: Kojima Productions.

The possessory credit has always been a contentious one…and Hideo Kojima once came under fire for a tweet that was misconstrued when the game developer shared that a “Hideo Kojima Game” simply means he (Kojima) has his hands in every aspect of production: from casting, directing, designing, difficulty, you name it!

https://twitter.com/HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN/status/1175733644742156288?s=20

This didn’t sit well with some fans as well as journalists, who claimed Kojima is a narcissistic director with a lust for power. Maybe so. While others see a narcissist, I see a perfectionist, ever-committed to getting his hands dirty in order to create a satisfactory experience.

There’s a thin line between being a perfectionist and a narcissist (every artist creates to fuel their ego, after all), which makes me question which side of the line Hideo Kojima actually stands; especially after seeing a recent tweet from the famed director that said “This announcement video wasn’t edited by me” after previewing the recent Death Stranding: Director’s Cut announcement trailer, at PlayStation’s most recent State of Play that took place on July 8th.

I could be nitpicking, but what those words say to me is that Kojima isn’t proud of the trailer, and is subtlety distancing himself from it. My view on this is supplemented by follow-up tweets where Kojima tells fans about his plans to edit the future trailers of the Director’s Cut in a poll tweet.

https://twitter.com/HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN/status/1413368935227924481?s=20

As a long-time Hideo Kojima fan, it’s easy to see the differences in quality from a “Edited by Hideo Kojima” trailer, and the Director’s Cut announce trailer, even though the latter trailer is nowhere half-bad. Sure it lacks all things we’ve come to enjoy about trailers edited by Kojima himself, like indie music from artists no one’s ever heard of, an ever-present sense of melancholia, cryptic messages, and Steadicam shots. But despite it lacking a few of these staples, the trailer still does a good job of promising gamers a new experience.

So why does Hideo Kojima throw his team under the bus by feeling the need to disclaim that he didn’t edit the trailer if his usual credits for editing trailers weren’t in the trailer? that’s something I believe a lot of long-time fans could easily deduce; seeing as every Hideo Kojima tweet, trailer and announcement come under heavy scrutiny. And no, the irony is not lost on me here. Seeing as I’m doing the same thing with this article, which begs the question: could this be a mark of a director bound to the need of always getting the praise? When will Hideo Kojima trust his team enough to allow them to take the reins on tasks as simple as editing a trailer and taking the credit for it?

Naughty Dog, one of Sony’s prolific first-party studios has witnessed a shift in “power” over the years; which has been a breath of fresh air. For a while now, Neil Druckmann has been known as Naughty Dog’s superstar. A title that’s warranted, as the man’s a genius and has earned his lofty position and superstardom in the gaming industry; starting out as an intern at the company in 2004, Neil Druckmann moved up the ranks: from programmer, designer, creative-director and narrative lead, before arriving at his current position as Co-President of the company.

This has allowed other members of Naughty Dog’s team to take up bigger roles on titles like Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and The Last Of Us: Part II. without downplaying the efforts of the other members of the studio, Neil Druckmann has had a significant role in both the Uncharted and TLOU franchises, which would have made Druckmann the obvious choice to once again act as creative director and director on Lost Legacy, but instead, the beloved game developer took a bit of a backseat, allowing Shaun Escayg and Kurt Margenau a chance to shine and assume those roles: Shaun as creative- director and Kurt as director; on top of the two being the writers of the game.

A few years after Lost Legacy’s successful release, we see the same thing happen on The Last of Us: Part II, as “underdogs” Kurt Margenau and Andrew Newman find themselves in the driver’s seats as co-directors of the game; With Neil Druckmann acting as creative-director, a role he played on the first game.

whether this is good leadership or Druckmann simply having his hands too full with his current position that it leaves him no choice but to afford these roles to other members of the team is something we’ll never know. Either way, it’s something that works in the studio’s favor as it gives more individuals an opportunity to shine by stepping up to the challenge and introducing their unique flare to Naughty Dog’s ever-amazing games.

I believe Kojima Productions could benefit from doing the same thing as a studio not short on exceptional talent that’s able to contribute in almost the same capacity as its decorated studio head. Talent like Yoji Shinkawa, who served as the lead designer/art director on the Metal Gear Solid games over the lifespan of the franchise.

Though primarily an artist, after working with Kojima for all these years, It shouldn’t be foreign or out of question for someone like Shinkawa-San to take the lead in a different role on future games. This makes me curious to see what capacity other members (especially the much younger ladies and gents), of Kojima Productions, will contribute to the studio’s later games.

While I do enjoy everything Kojima encompasses, It would be nice to see more games/trailers edited by, directed by, and written by other members of the studio. That way, The legacy of The Boss, Hideo Kojima, will forever live on through the talent he’s helped nurture should he choose to retire or if he finds himself too occupied in his role as studio head to have his hands in every aspect of production.

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