The Quiet Eroticism of MGS5

Hideo Kojima, the man behind Metal Gear Solid 5, has come under fire recently for admitting to making his characters “more erotic” for the new game. One of many new characters in the latest installment of the Metal Gear Solid saga is a sniper rifle toting, bikini-clad woman named Quiet. Kojima tweeted earlier this month that he wanted to make this character more erotic to encourage cosplay and increase figurine sales for the character. These remarks have kicked up controversy, many people citing this as an example of sexist game design. Kojima has since admitted that erotic “might have been the wrong word” however the damage has been done. However much of the criticism is misplayed. The eroticism of MGS5 is not an example of sexist game design; it may just be the opposite.

Quick, cover her up before FOX News sees her!

Quiet is not the first woman in the Metal Gear Solid games to wear revealing clothing. Sex appeal has been part of the Metal Gear games since the beginning. Who could forget Sniper Wolf in MGS1, another sniper rifle toting woman with an open chest of cleavage? Then there’s EVA from MGS3, who is continually shown in her bikini and unzipped jumpsuit. MGS4 went even further, featuring four women each with the likeness of a fashion model, all clad in latex and incessantly moaning. One would naturally draw conclusions about these games however there’s more to it than that. In contrast to these sexualized characters, the Metal Gear games have concurrently featured stronger female characters who are much less sexualized. Meryl, the Boss and Naomi from MGS1, 3, and 4 respectively are among the strongest women in video games. At best the Metal Gear Solid games have sent mixed messages regarding the depiction of female characters.

However in all of these previous examples, the designs of these women have maintained a sort of practicality it regards to the setting of their respective games. For example Sniper Wolf from MGS1 switches to a winter coat while outside in the snowfield. All the MGS5 footage available to the public shows Quiet clad in a bikini, which is undoubtedly inappropriate clothing for someone in Afghanistan. It would seem that there’s little practicality to this design choice. Kojima is unwilling to reveal the logic behind Quiet’s outfit, only that there is in fact, a legitimate reason behind it. It remains to be seen whether or not there is a valid justification behind Quiet’s character design. While several “theories” are floating around as to what this reason may be however this is one possibility that hasn’t been explored.

Given Kojima’s passion for social commentary, Quiet’s choice of clothing may be of her own volition.  Quiet is a mute character, she’s most likley suffered a lot of trauma (she is shown being tortured in the trailer). Consider that maybe Quiet’s decision to be sexually appealing is her last option of expressing her femininity given that she has abandoned her voice. It’s social commentary on what is left of the female psyche when a woman’s words are taken away. There’s precedence for women using sex appeal for their own ends in the MGS saga. EVA, the aforementioned bikini-clad spy of MGS3, used her sex appeal to manipulate men and accomplish her mission.

Don’t let her looks fool you, EVA is one of the strongest female characters in gaming.

It’s even more plausible that this theory would fly over people’s heads (MGS2 anyone?). The gaming community has yet to reach a mature attitude to the depiction of sexuality in video games. There’s this paranoia, as if the gaming community is constantly looking over it’s shoulder to see if FOX news is watching. Video games are a growing art form and have as much right to delve into these sexual themes as a movie or book would. It’s interesting that no one seems to mind that MGS5 will feature child soldiers, obviously evoking darker themes of war explored in movies such as Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket. Sexuality seems to be one the forbidden topics for video games.

Hideo Kojima has shown in previous works that he is willing to explore topics that no one else is willing to do. The postmoderism themes of MGS2 have yet to be equalled. Unfortunately Hideo Kojima has always been a few too many steps ahead of the gaming community (the negative reaction to MGS2 proves that). One would hope, for the sake of MGS5, that the gaming community catches up by the time it’s released.

About Sam Hale

Autistic, young adult and lots on my mind.

Posted on September 12, 2013, in Editorials and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I’d like to thank you for sharing this view, and especially for putting forth the idea that Quiet is using her style of dress to compensate for the the femininity which she can’t express vocally. It flies in the face of Western rhetoric concerning women in media which is too quick to label things as “sexism” without seeing the deeper meanings in works known to have them, including the MGS series.

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