The Problem with Carte Blanche

Kotaku published an article today on how, almost 3 years since its announcement, we finally have an idea of what Kojima’s first game since his departure from Konami will entail. You think that would be one of the primary hooks of teasing and previewing a game- what the game actually is from an interactive/play standpoint, but Kojima is a genius madman of an video game auteur, so we are finally gifted after a 3 year wait with details most directors would have released, well, 3 years ago.

I’ll be the first to admit Kojima is something of a genius, his games have regularly defied what we might consider the limitations of a current era of gaming- Metal Gear Solid 2 on the Playstation 2 came out back in 2001, but its intricacies and detail set a bar many games strove to meet even in the next gen of hardware capability on the Playstation 3. Given that capability, Kojima’s demands for time to develop and license to do what he deemed creatively necessary for his “visions” increased. By the time we reached Metal Gear Sold 4 we were given an absurd playground of realism to interact with in the stealth series, but Kojima demanded we follow a plot so complex that the game was routinely sidelined to allow for feature length cut scenes.

By the time Metal Gear Solid 5 was coming on the scene, Konami seemed to have enough of video games and him in tandem. Kojima was removed from the company, his name stricken from its usual place on the game’s cover. There’s been a lot of speculation about MGS5‘s incomplete plot and the possibility that there was supposed to be more to it than we got- even if the game released was yet another masterpiece, but this saga of Kojima’s decades of work on the Metal Gear series and now his 3 years on Death Stranding raise a quandary that I’ve considered for a very long time regarding artists and an oft unspoken value of limitations for artists.

I don’t think art should ever be limited in terms of content or messaging, but it should absolutely be limited in terms of resources and volume. Paintings should have a frame or at least an edge to their canvas (granted, some modern art tests the boundaries of this, but even they do so with finite resources and space). It’s rarely explored, but many sequels are crushed under the weight of increased expectations and budgeting. My favorite example of this is the original Deadpool which had to be creative and make do with a relatively limited budget for a superhero flick. The writers were creative, came up with jokes from and for that limitation, and delivered a top shelf film.

Deadpool 2 on the other hand wasn’t well received and it may be due in part to the slackening of monetary restrictions and having much more freedom: I truly believe having limits forces creators to more carefully consider their choices and get the most out of every line, shot, and scene. Need a better example? Consider Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy versus the much more big budget prequel affairs, and in general: consider not only the form of the art you’re consuming or viewing, but also the limitations and constraints of it, the frame in which the artist was forced to and forced themselves to contain it within.

Author: Y. Balloo

Amateur novelist / Work in progress.

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