I'm worried about the prison camps in The Phantom Pain

Posted by BisonHero (6169 posts) -

Let me start with a question: do you think the prison camps we've seen in trailers are meant to be evocative of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp maintained by the U.S. during the "War on Terror"? I believe it is explicitly mentioned in some Phantom Pain material that one of those prison camps in the game is in Cuba, so I don't feel I'm making a huge leap of logic here. The red-band trailer for Phantom Pain also has a pretty significant focus on torture sequences, and seemingly several members of Militaires sans Frontieres get maimed pretty badly (some while in captivity?).

So do you think Kojima is actually going to try to make a point about the whole Guantanamo Bay situation and the use of torture? Or is it just one more thing to kinda keep the game full of more imagery of current world events, without having anything meaningful to say about those current world events?

I'm still not sure I really buy that Kojima games are about anything other than the kinda wacky nanomachines and Patriots and giant robots and Enfants Terribles they've been about since MGS1. Additionally, the games give a good focus on the personal struggles of their respective leading characters. But as far as the greater issues? MGS1 is...maybe about nuclear disarmament, or lack thereof, after the conclusion of the Cold War? Except that's like, 1% of the whole game, and the rest is about FOXHOUND and this rogue group of super villains and a robot with a nuke railgun (which is just silly when nuclear ICBMs are more or less just as unstoppable as a railgun). And MGS2 is...kinda about the ability of technology/the internet to easily distort information? Except again that was like 1% of the game, and the rest was about vampires killing SEAL teams, and GW, and Liquid's soul being contained in his forearm until they retconned that out or whatever. And so on.

I went back and rewatched that red-band trailer for The Phantom Pain (with gross little kid intestines), and it strikes me that it's the third big budget game I can think of in recent memory that has some pretty gnarly prisoner abuse (GTA V and Splinter Cell: Blacklist being the others). I have high hopes for Kojima to actually do something meaningful with the inclusion of torture, but I'm also really afraid that it's going to fall flat because the plot will be so wrapped up in the fake Patriots/Outer Heaven fictional history of the MGS series that it won't have any real point to make about torture being used on soldiers in real armed conflicts.

Kojma and co. have an opportunity to say something about the human rights violations that prisoners of war can be subjected to, and I think he has a better likelihood of taking advantage of that opportunity, at least compared to jingoistic games like Splinter Cell or Call of Duty, or toothless satires like GTA V. But I don't have a great sense of whether Kojima is actually a guy to give a shit about Amnesty International and political activism and that's why he's putting it in there, or if he's just an otaku game designer who likes the idea of putting random current events in his game so they seem edgy but he doesn't actually have any viewpoint he wants to express with their inclusion.

#1 Edited by fatalbanana (175 posts) -

I think I would like it less if it was a political commentary based on actual events. Personally I'm not a big fan of when video games or any kind of media try's to shoe horn some kind of political opinion or commentary into the thing I'm interacting with specifically for the use of entertainment. Not to say things like this haven't worked for me in the past but overall especially in something so far removed from reality as Metal Gear has become it wouldn't be something I imagine anyone could take too seriously. So whats the point?. Video games aren't what I turn to for insight into politics or real world problems. However, If its there to flesh out the world and add something good to the overall experience (which I imagine Kojima will do with it if anything at all) I'm all the way for it. just don't be too preachy about it.

#2 Posted by kcin (124 posts) -

You are willfully not giving any credit to the MGS series for commenting on the nature of war and its impact on the individual and society. Declaring that MGS2 is only 1% about its themes and is, therefore, 99% about vampires killing SEAL teams and souls being in arms is like saying Juno is 1% a coming-of-age story and 99% about silly dialogue, or, to put it more simply that a steak dinner is 1% about the steak and 99% about the parsley on the side that livens up the look of the dish.

MGS3 is an amazingly effective parable about the many ways in which war shapes and damages a soldier. The ending of that story is as striking and poignant as any war film before it. And yet, by your critique, it isn't about this, it is about electrified homosexual doms and 200-year-old snipers and spider dudes. Similarly, MGS4 demonstrated the most horrifying repercussions of privatizing war, but you might alternately describe it as being about immortal nanomachine vampires and cyborg ninjas doing a blade ballet together and a dude who shits his pants a lot. These aren't the themes, they are the window dressing.

Having differentiated in this way, I think it's easy to assert that the MGS storyline, with as many absurd elements - not themes - as it has, has been and is potentially capable of continuing to be a very effective vehicle for commenting on the nature of war.

#3 Edited by EuanDewar (4757 posts) -

I don't know that I necessarily agree with your opinion's on the portrayal of similar subjects in previous MGS games but honestly it's been too long since I replayed one of them to really be able to comment.

It's certainly one of the spikier subjects Kojima has attempted to handle, for sure. I don't think he's gonna be intentionally phoning it in, I'm pretty certain he sees the inherent weight of these issues. It'd be hard not to. Whether or not the execution to back it all up is there well, we'll just have to wait and see, really. It's all just kinda hand wringing right now.

#4 Edited by Hailinel (23886 posts) -

I'm not sure if it can really be classified as putting a current event in the game when it's set in the 1970s/80s. They've existed for far longer than Guantanamo Bay. We really don't know the full context of what the prison camp is supposed to reflect in the game and, unless there's a message that Kojma would like to hit us over the head with involving prison camps, we probably won't see some sort of greater commentary out of them outside of whatever codec partners might have to say about them..

#5 Edited by ViciousBearMauling (897 posts) -

I can see Kojima managing to frame all of it in a meaningful way, but not if he is given free reign over the way it's handled. It's kinda touchy, and Kojima can be heavy handed. If there is someone ready to draw the line between a powerful message and over the top drawn out monologues that shove the idea down your throat, it could work. Or he could just use it to create sympathy towards characters struggles without making some political stance.

Also, it is a video game. I doubt that I could take it seriously if Metal Gear tried to get really deep on us.


#6 Posted by crithon (3081 posts) -

hmnmmmmm Peace Walker was all about helping liberate banana republics. I found that really awesome, especially since I was born in south america in the 80s and hearing about Contras and just how well Peace Walker made Big Boss into this weird capitalist Che Guevara. And then on top of that, I log into Metal Gear online servers and chat with players from south america who go "FUCK Hugo Chavez." So yeah it's a weird subversive series, and I think it's effective in it's audience. Because in CoD Black Ops, I felt uncomfortable with the whole Cuba sequence.

#7 Posted by alwaysbebombing (1538 posts) -

I guess I'd just like to know, why it matters so much to you?

#8 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3019 posts) -

I'm less worried about the prison camps than I am about the abundance of child soldiers. I have a feeling MGS V is gonna be full of a lot of real messed up stuff. (And I could say the same about Paz after that trailer! Hah! Stomach bombs.)

#9 Edited by MasterRain (308 posts) -

Well obviously the games aren't 100% about political commentary because then they would be bad/boring games. Its always the backdrop, the setting, the underlying cause. This means the video game bit can be fun with ninjas, snakes and super villains, while all the time working towards a meaningful goal. Making these topics palatable for a mainstream audience is very difficult, especially when trying to make an enjoyable experience.

Also Kojima is not obliged to make a significant point about society, its a video game not an educational piece, he mainly uses relevant topics as a plot device which is fine.

#10 Edited by Encephalon (1240 posts) -

I don't really have any expectations in this regard at all.

I definitely consider myself an MGS fan, but also ascribe to Ryan Davis' assertion that - and I'm paraphrasing here - "the craziest thing about Metal Gear is that anyone would ever take it seriously."

#11 Edited by Oldirtybearon (4594 posts) -

There's always a point to the Metal Gear games. Some people like to mock the games for being outlandishly Japanese with the theatricality and dumb video game stuff in them, but at the core of each MGS game there is a point that Kojima is trying to convey. He's not always 100% successful, but it's not that hard to see. Disregarding the message because some aspects of the games are hokey is pretty dumb.

As far as there being a point to the brutality shown in the red band trailer for MGS5; I'm banking on there being a point to it. Just like I'm betting there is a real reason that he's choosing this game to show child soldiers (an element discussed and referenced in previous entries, but this is the first time we're seeing it). I'm honestly surprised there is some debate on whether or not the prison camps are a reference to bullshit like Gitmo. I thought it was super on-the-nose.

edit: also, MSF is literally translated to "Soldiers Without Borders". It's obvious what the intent behind such a name is, and what kind of parallels you're supposed to draw. The idea that Kojima doesn't care about human rights violations or Amnesty International I find rather kooky, since Kojima is one giant peace-loving hippie who filters his philosophy and worldview through 1980s action movie games.

#12 Posted by therealnelsk (276 posts) -

To say that MGS is/should be some kind of grand political gesture is comically overstating its importance. It's a game series that's also a creative expression, nothing more, nothing less. If he actually has altruistic aspirations, there are a billion better ways to achieve them. He'll say what he wants to say, and maybe it will even get some people to read a newspaper, but common..

I definitely consider myself an MGS fan, but also ascribe to Ryan Davis' assertion that - and I'm paraphrasing here - "the craziest thing about Metal Gear is that anyone would ever take it seriously."

MGS is fucking dumb. I'm not exactly motivated to join the peace corps after chopping up a robot with my ninja-foot-katana due to it's edgy commentary on the "absurdities of war". I sure want to play another game though.

#13 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10471 posts) -

Well, uh, you kinda put this is the wrong forum, the prison camp is in Ground Zeroes, not Phantom Pain. At least the one in the trailers and stuff, who knows if there's another in Phantom Pain.

Also, yeah, that's probably supposed to be Guantanamo Bay, they just didn't want to actually call it that, so they wouldn't be bound to historical accuracy.

#14 Posted by TruthTellah (8534 posts) -

@bisonhero: I don't see why you'd necessarily be worried about it; though, judging by other MGS games, I would say it's unlikely that he's referencing Guantanamo Bay or US torture in particular. The series has already mentioned and shown themes of torture and harsh imprisonment for a long time. The game is set during the Cold War, when this kind of thing was done by the Russians, US, and many countries, and in the MGS series, he has focused on the period more than a specific modern instance.

I don't get the impression that prison camp has anything to do with the modern war on terrorism, because that's not really a theme of that setting. It's more about child soldiers and secret government espionage which are simply the stage for the battle between Big Boss and Zero. It's Big Boss's evolution from a hero into a monster in a desperate attempt to beat a bigger monster. There are certainly themes and references to real issues in the MGS series, but it's all primarily in service of setting the stage for the series' drama.

I wouldn't worry about it. If you're familiar with Peace Walker, this is just an extension of that. A bridge between MGS3 and MGS1. Don't over think it.

#15 Posted by Itwastuesday (933 posts) -

i'm sure it will be handled with tact and maturity

ahahahahahahaha

#16 Posted by csl316 (8106 posts) -

@kcin said:
MGS3 is an amazingly effective parable about the many ways in which war shapes and damages a soldier. The ending of that story is as striking and poignant as any war film before it.

Hell yeah, it is. That's why it shot up past MGS 1 as my favorite of the series. Instead of talk about "I got all the recessive genes!" the end is all about loyalty and your beliefs. It's really poignant stuff, and that salute at the end. Man...

#17 Posted by ShadowConqueror (3050 posts) -

This kind of thing has been in the games since MGS1, as you pointed out. I disagree with your feelings that they are 1% of their respective games. Things like this are all over this series and to say they are not a big part is to say that you are delusional.

#18 Edited by RonGalaxy (2872 posts) -

For reference, Kojima said MGS5's major theme will be race.

Here is MGS's themes from MGS1 - MGS5

MGS>MGS2>MGS3>MGS4>MGS:PW>MGS5

Gene>Meme>Scene>Sense>Peace>Race

I've played almost every MGS game (besides peacewalker and 5, of course) and I think that all of those themes are executed upon well.

I think some underlining political themes found in the series have been misinterpreted as being the main focal point, which (I believe) is false. Kojima is a bigger picture, philosophical kind of writer as opposed to a political one. The political aspects are there to reinforce the philosophical ones. It goes without saying, philosophy and politics, pretty much, go hand and hand

If you are worried whether or not these things will be represented well, I recommend looking back to earlier games in the series and predicting for yourself. Personally I think every topic brought up in this series is handled with a lot of care, which makes me optimistic for MGS5.

People think there isn't any depth to these games and its just Japanese weirdness, but I dont think that's the case if you understand Kojimas intention for making these games. Its up to opinion whether or not he does a good job. I, personally, think he does.

#19 Posted by Korolev (1700 posts) -

Well, that's been the problem I've had with MGS for a long time - about half of it tries to be serious and sombre, and the other half is wacky cyborgs, poop jokes and sexy robot ladies posing for the camera (not to mention that there's a character called hot coldman. Seriously. That is the actual name of a character - Hot Coldman.)

He'll have something meaningful to say about the "Black Sites" used by the United States, but 20 minutes later he'll throw in a joke about using binoculars to look at a woman's underpants. I hope that he tries to tell a more serious story this time around, I really do.

#20 Edited by BisonHero (6169 posts) -

@naru_joe93: If MGS1 was really about "Gene", then it's pretty unfortunate how wrong they got genetics. The only part that kind of applies is that FOXDIE may as well be considered a genetic hereditary disease, and telling Snake to live his life to the fullest and not mind the constant threat of his death is an encouraging thought for someone with a fatal genetic disorder. And they have almost nothing to say about the Genome Soldiers.

Also, for a game more about genes than nuclear disarmament, there sure were a couple times where there's a black screen with white text that tells you about the amount of nuclear waste and nuclear warheads still out there in the world.

The whole "Gene Meme Scene" thing always seemed like he had to retrofit MGS1 into it to make the one-syllable rhyme thing work. The focus seems like it was way more on how nuclear weapons are still a thing even after the Cold War ended.

#21 Posted by BisonHero (6169 posts) -

@crithon said:

hmnmmmmm Peace Walker was all about helping liberate banana republics. I found that really awesome, especially since I was born in south america in the 80s and hearing about Contras and just how well Peace Walker made Big Boss into this weird capitalist Che Guevara. And then on top of that, I log into Metal Gear online servers and chat with players from south america who go "FUCK Hugo Chavez." So yeah it's a weird subversive series, and I think it's effective in it's audience. Because in CoD Black Ops, I felt uncomfortable with the whole Cuba sequence.

Yeah, for sure, from what I've heard, Peace Walker handles that really well, especially compared to other more pro-America games that have included Cuba and Central America in less sympathetic ways.

#22 Posted by Demoskinos (14562 posts) -

If there is anyone I fully trust its Kojima I think the man knows what he is doing.

#23 Edited by RonGalaxy (2872 posts) -

@bisonhero: Its been awhile since Ive played MGS, so Im not gonna argue with you on this one (though you have given me a reason to replay it!)

I will take this time to direct people to this great article from Gamasutra discussing a lot of the themes found in the series in greater detail than I could provide. Remember, just because a theme is tackled in something doesn't mean answers will be found. Most likely more questions will arise.

#24 Edited by ArtisanBreads (3747 posts) -

Pretty much every MGS game has done this to varying levels. MGS4 was so much about the military industrial complex for example. MGS 1 ended with a damn lecture.

It's a very safe bet. There's going to be some dark shit and Big Boss is going to become a "bad guy" and I think we'll be given good (and sympathetic) reasons for him doing so.

But it'll be wrapped in MGS craziness so feel free to look past it at the big robot and guy who does something with his mind.

#25 Posted by TruthTellah (8534 posts) -

If there is anyone I fully trust its Kojima I think the man knows what he is doing.

Yeah, and he really cares about MGS V, unlike Portable Ops and MGS 4. So, I'm confident he's going to make it something fun and interesting. :)

#26 Edited by Dallas_Raines (2135 posts) -

MGS is the horror of war interpreted through dumb anime dialog and brodacious titties.

#27 Posted by Demoskinos (14562 posts) -

@demoskinos said:

If there is anyone I fully trust its Kojima I think the man knows what he is doing.

Yeah, and he really cares about MGS V, unlike Portable Ops and MGS 4. So, I'm confident he's going to make it something fun and interesting. :)

I think he cares about all of his projects. I mean, there is a reason Rising nearly didn't see the light of day. You spend your entire career creating and curating the lore of this world you built even if he himself has retconned a fair amount of it and I can't help bu think that you would just be so afraid to let anyone else touch your baby.

#28 Edited by TruthTellah (8534 posts) -

@demoskinos said:

@truthtellah said:

@demoskinos said:

If there is anyone I fully trust its Kojima I think the man knows what he is doing.

Yeah, and he really cares about MGS V, unlike Portable Ops and MGS 4. So, I'm confident he's going to make it something fun and interesting. :)

I think he cares about all of his projects. I mean, there is a reason Rising nearly didn't see the light of day. You spend your entire career creating and curating the lore of this world you built even if he himself has retconned a fair amount of it and I can't help bu think that you would just be so afraid to let anyone else touch your baby.

Kojima made it relatively clear throughout the development of MGS 4 that he didn't want to make it; he thought the open-ended ending of MGS 2 was better than trying to make some big resolution. But they pushed him to do it, and he reluctantly went along with it. He made the best of a less than ideal situation.

In an interview regarding the impetus for MGS 4, Kojima has stated:

Once again I'd intended for MGS3 to wrap up the series, but so many people wanted to know what happened after "2". Things like the identity of the Patriots and so forth. I had planned on leaving those mysteries as mysteries, but people weren't convinced that the series was wrapped up.

So ultimately we ended up making "4".

Regarding Portable Ops, from what I've seen since its release, it has basically been disavowed by Kojima, and it ironically has the most ties to MGS 4's story. Peace Walker was the game he wanted to make, and in it, it's rather clear that the "crap" of Portable Ops was behind them. Early on in PW, Miller literally says, "Now we can leave that crap at San Hieronymo behind." The company wanted that game, and they got it. It was solid enough. But its direct followup, Peace Walker, barely acknowledged that it even happened and basically rewrote it. Kojima still doesn't refer to Portable Ops when talking about the history of MGS, and it represents a game where Kojima was reluctant to have any part in it.

When Kojima is really invested in a game, I think the difference can clearly be seen, and while he does fine work even when reluctantly doing a project, MGS V represents another title after Peace Walker that he has expressed genuine passion in. So, even if the whole thing is batshit nuts, I'm excited to see Kojima's A-game in MGS V.

#29 Edited by Demoskinos (14562 posts) -

@truthtellah: Well yeah I know Kojima wanted to stop but my point being he knew Konami was going to continue making them and either he could watch someone else take his work places he didnt approve of or he would have to keep stepping in. Also I thought MGS4 and Peacewalker were both fantastic. God that final battle in peacewalker especially. Buddy. That was something.

#30 Edited by crithon (3081 posts) -

@bisonhero: well, compared to Black ops, cuba is portrayed as this greasy dirty little down where everyone is likely to kill you. In Peace Walker, you befriend them and then use their culture to help finance a giant nuclear equiped Pink Metal Gear Zeke.... oh wait, I think I got confused there. But there's are moments where Big Boss will ask about their culture and sell it to help fund Mother's base's science division. And a lot of it is like Mate which is a wonderful Tea that I used to grow up with. It's this weird capitalism simulator which contrasted a lot of the whole socialism and communist themes of Cuba and Venezuela.

But the cool thing is that Metal Gear is catching on with the south american gamers, and they totally get it. Like online just chatting with them in spanish and they love it, before Chavez died he was doing rants about the terrors of video games on brainwashing the children. Blah blah blah.

#31 Edited by bybeach (4725 posts) -

@korolev: The character Silence will quiet your fears.

Wait, is it Quiet, or Silence? I forget...

#32 Edited by TruthTellah (8534 posts) -

@demoskinos said:

@truthtellah: Well yeah I know Kojima wanted to stop but my point being he knew Konami was going to continue making them and either he could watch someone else take his work places he didnt approve of or he would have to keep stepping in. Also I thought MGS4 and Peacewalker were both fantastic. God that final battle in peacewalker especially. Buddy. That was something.

I really like Peace Walker, as well. Kojima has said it was almost MGS V, and I can see why.

From how Kojima has made it sound, apparently business was the biggest factor in getting him to be more involved with MGS4, and while I doubt it was the deciding factor, he has said the staff were very bothered by death threats sent to them when he initially indicated that he would only be advising on it. I'm glad he at least made something of it even if he had to be dragged along.

I do find it interesting that they apparently had to allow him to eventually make Peace Walker as part of making MGS4(as he wanted more of Big Boss's story and wanted Snake's to be done), and he even had the release of MGS4 delayed so that Portable Ops could come out, as he thought it was important for some plot points to be out to fans before finishing the story in MGS4. If they were going to push him to get a resolution, he was going to do it on his terms.

I really hope MGS V is good, and it'd be even better if it was great. I remain a little iffy about it being split up like this, as it reeks of business more than design, but it could still all work out.

#33 Posted by dudeglove (7687 posts) -

or if he's just an otaku game designer who likes the idea of putting random current events in his game so they seem edgy but he doesn't actually have any viewpoint he wants to express with their inclusion.

yup

Online
#34 Posted by joshwent (2112 posts) -

Kojma and co. have an opportunity to say something about the human rights violations that prisoners of war can be subjected to, and I think he has a better likelihood of taking advantage of that opportunity, at least compared to jingoistic games like Splinter Cell or Call of Duty, or toothless satires like GTA V.

Sure, but if they choose to not take advantage of that opportunity is that a bad thing? Bioshock Infinite had an opportunity to make some points about segregation and the nature of revolution, but they didn't. That pissed a lot of people off, but I felt like it was actually the better choice, as the story was purely focused on the characters so any "message" about the ethics of those situations would have come off as the writers jarringly moralizing to the player.

It's not Kojima's place to have to decry human rights violations in prison camps.

#35 Posted by TruthTellah (8534 posts) -

@bisonhero said:

or if he's just an otaku game designer who likes the idea of putting random current events in his game so they seem edgy but he doesn't actually have any viewpoint he wants to express with their inclusion.

yup

But... but that's not true at all.

I mean, unless the idea of current events is any time within the last century. Most of his games are about the Cold War, nuclear weapons, being a soldier, and seeing cool shit explode with hot women, robots, and drama.

#36 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5338 posts) -

Guantanamo Bay is as dumb as MGS for the most part; so more power to them.

@joshwent: Bioshock Infinite does come off as "jarringly moralizing" because of bad writing anyway.

#37 Posted by Sir_WilliamIII (38 posts) -

@fatalbanana:

I get your point but its the creator of the game choice in where he takes the story. Using political issues those that follow these particular issues will be more drawn in to whats going on in the story. Is he using the game to bring more light on issues who knows but if you dont like where it is going then just dont play the game.

#38 Posted by Karkarov (2982 posts) -

All this thread makes me want to do is watch the red band trailer again.....

Kojima is definitely trying to make a statement of some kind in the game, he always does. Like many other posters have already said the overall "arc" of Metal Gear is about war/espionage and what it does to people and the world at large. Torture, violence, child soldiers, etc etc have come up in all the previous games too. This isn't new territory for Kojima, I am sure he will handle it fine.

#39 Edited by Veektarius (4592 posts) -

Who exactly is going to be playing MGSwhatevernumberthis is without a reasonably solid opinion about the validity of torture? Just because something is "important" doesn't mean that anyone needs to be told about it.

I suppose there are probably some out there who doubt that it's in active use by the US, but a video game set in a fictional alternate reality cannot reasonably be expected to address that, no matter how much attention is paid to those sequences.

#40 Edited by fatalbanana (175 posts) -

@sir_williamiii: Totally but you missed my point I don't care if things like that are in the game or not and I understand that the writers and creators of this game will do what ever they want with whatever subjects they want. I was just expressing my point of view on what I would like to see and how I would like it to be done. I'll play the game regardless I just wouldn't think twice about these sorts of topics if/when they pop up in the game. I would just take it as context for the game world and nothing else.

#41 Edited by GERALTITUDE (2917 posts) -

I've never found MGS to be moralizing or surface only. Kojima seems legitimately interested in talking about how fucked up the war economy and all its tendrils are. He's been at it forever. All of Snake's storyline is basically him trying to keep sanity through years of murder.

But the road he walks on has no end...

Recipe for MGS

  • 1/3 madness
  • 1/3 war never changes
  • 1/3 gameplay

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