Yes you read that right. Darling game designer Hideo Kojima compared himself to an independent game developer because “you can see, basically, who the creator is. They’re not hiding. Not hidden behind a layer of things. They’re out there in the open.” And because you can never mistake a Kojima game for a game by any other dev, the comparison was born.
Kojima told IGN during RTX that he finds Indie games interesting because “you get a sense of … a very direct sense of who the creator is and what their sensibilities are. You know, the story, the game play, the different ideas that they come up with.” Which is an accurate description. Very few indie titles could ever be mistaken for AAA games because of that personal touch all indie titles happen to carry.
Kojima is one of the AAA games worlds few well-known game directors. That’s starting to change slowly with more and more games coverage and with the breakdown of barriers between games consumers and development teams at events like PAX and now E3 which allow for gamers to come to trade shows and meet the people making the games that they love. It’s the sort of personal touch we see at comic conventions all the time but that has been missing in games.
Kojima’s thoughts on why that difference exists: “I think the biggest difference is that for a lot of other large games, they’re created by different … there’s a subdivision of labour. Where I, myself, I do the game design, producing, promotion, writing, many different things. I do it all myself. So that respect, it’s kind of like being an indie developer.”
So while I’m slightly mocking the man for the comparison between his expensive, expansive AAA game titles and the makers of low-budget side-scrollers with retro 8-bit graphics, I do agree that it is hard to separate the man from his games. Meanwhile, it’s rather easy to do that with countless other games. And the division of labor certainly hinders that personalization, but a lot of other art forms are collaborative efforts just like AAA games. A Christopher Nolan movie is always going to feel like a Christoper Nolan production even though it has actors, camera men, makeup artists, lighting and set designers, sound designers.
So maybe it’s more that we as gamer’s don’t care. Most players could not tell you the game director for the latest Call of Duty: Black Ops game, could they? But Metal Gear? That just screams Hideo Kojima.
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