MGSV: Quietly Screaming
Recently my google now updated. I opened it up and began to see nothing but the same topic on it. “You’ve shown interest in MGSV” it said, that’s a bit of an understatement, I thought. That’s like saying that a heroin addict has shown some interest in drugs. I absolutely adore this game, there are some flaws in it. Pointing that out is one of those things you say to not come across as a fanatic (while instead coming across as a twit). Google was not wrong in presuming that I would like to hear more about this game. After all, the little things like finding Hideo in it have really delighted me.
Then I saw the articles. All of them, on Polygon, Kotaku, and Rock/Paper/Shotgun, were about Quiet. They use words like “Anger”, “Outrage”, and “Embarassment.” In all cases the phrasing is visceral, these are emotional reactions rather than intellectual ones. That isn’t to say these people are stupid, I don’t know them. But I am usually very skeptical of anyone that uses such words when talking about something. Being emotional is not a bad thing but it is addictive. That high you get from being angry is unmatched by just about anything else outside of pure passion. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same psychological symposium is playing in a person’s head when they do either.
The thing that gets me about Quiet is that when I saw her I thought “Huh, seems like she’d sunburn easily in Afghanistan.” That was about it. Similar to how when I first saw Voldo I thought “Man, it must be hard to breath in that.” [I have great difficulty getting enough air in through my nose. I suppose that makes me a literal mouth breather.]
This thought process would carry on for a bit until they explained why she was the way she was. The reasoning was, to me, entirely valid. That isn’t to say she needed to be justified. I will be equally interested to know how a man walks around on fire and shoots bullets from his skin. Or how the ghost men vanish into the ether and then reappear to wreck my shit. Or how that little boy flies through walls and throws helicopter parts at people with his mind. Even the little things like why didn’t they just file down that plane wreckage that is in my skull? They’ve had nine years, even with a little filing every week you’d be done in a few years tops. But I digress ever so slightly.
This game is fucking weird. Hideo Kojima is a weird weird man. Does anyone remember when you played a nice chunk of a game as a naked man holding onto his junk?
He doesn’t shy away from mixing a realistic wartime environment with the most surreal things imaginable. That’s one of the reasons I like this series. It makes about as much sense as Astrology. I didn’t question Quiet because I was playing a Metal Gear game. This isn’t Spec Ops: The Line or the latest CODBLOPS. This is a game where men are on fire and crazy people are telling me what is on my memory card. If anything, like Raiden above, I wondered why she was wearing any clothes at all. It doesn’t really fit, they might explain it later (I’m not done with the game). Given her traits it would make much more sense to be completely naked. I know why she isn’t, its entirely a political and business move.
The same is true with all these articles. This kind of outrage pushes copies, at least the digital equivalent (views). It just feels so good to be angry about things even when they don’t make much sense. I’ve played a lot of video games over the last 5 years. Likely in the thousands of dollars, I’m not saying that makes me an expert, but what I will say is that this is the first game in a long time that has had a scantily clad woman in it as a primary character. I suppose we could argue what “scantily” means. I’m only using the terminology because its popular, I don’t necessarily agree with it.
This isn’t the “norm” anymore. That’s what surprises me so much about these articles and the comments therein. They act like its them against the world. But really, is it? If every major news outlet for video games, minus destructoid, is up in arms about this…is it really the norm anymore? It seems to me that that time has passed. The time when “girls aren’t gamers” or “the only women in my games are naked or distressed” is over. Yes, you can find examples, and yes, you can find people that believe those things. But with more than 1.2 billion people playing games now of course there are. In a sample size that large you can find just about anything. I bet there are hundreds or thousands of people in there that think other folks don’t even actually exist. If you can think of a kind of person it probably exists somewhere within that 1.2 billion people.
Similarly you can find games like the newest Duke Nukem floating around. But you know what? A shit ton of games are published all the time. The vast majority of them aren’t like that. Acting like we are still in the 90s is just strange. I’ve got literal shelves of games now that don’t fall into the very tropes that everyone seems to be up in arms about. So my question then becomes, is this never acceptable? Can you literally not have a female character for any reason that is nearly nude? I’m entirely fine with them having made Quiet male with the same abilities and even the same outfit. Heck, I’ve played the game partly like that.
The gaming media is no longer a boys club. It’s largely the opposite, there is a fairly vigorous crowd of folks absolutely furious with anything shy of a male body with a female head attached. (And I’m aware there are all sorts of shades in between, and I also don’t think any of them are wrong for wanting what they want). For me though this outrage falls somewhere along the lines of the “white people in Witcher 3” controversy. The expectation that every single game cater to every single group of people just doesn’t work.
Video games is not the US telecommunications industry. You have so many choices in the world. While I’ll admit there are terrible games out there the last couple of years have had some amazing releases across nearly every genre. If you don’t like this character enough to write about your “outrage” then don’t buy the game. If it is genuinely a problem the game won’t sell. Thinks like Colonial Marines had serious issues and they were torn apart for them. All sorts of games don’t meet their sales expectations because they are terrible. And when characters like this are legitimately lazy they usually aren’t alone. It’s not all that easy to find a fantastic game with one shitty character. They exist. But finding games with bad writing all around? That’s not hard at all.
I’ve felt like this for a long time. I fully am aware that this is just me pushing my own personal political and belief system, just like these people have. For as long as I can remember I’ve never seen a nearly nude (or nude) person and thought “Disgusting!” or “Outrageous!” For me, people are people. We have bodies, and those bodies will be in different levels of dress. My absolute favorite video game in the world has you standing on top of glistening men in banana hammocks.
I don’t know if there is a male equivalent of “plot.” If there is these men have it in spades.
I wonder what kind of madness would insue if the above scenario played out with females holding up the pillars in tiny bathing suits. Presumably it would lead to more “outrage”. But for me, in the context of that game, it fits perfectly. I’m playing through BOF 3 again on my phone and I find it all just works. The wackiness is what makes it shine for me.
For me the Quiet fits thematically. I think her powers are very very interesting and I’d have been equally happy with her if she had been a man, dick jiggle physics and all. I’m aware that there is a “history” of certain traits in her to our own history [women being seen but not heard, etc], and that some pervail today. But at some point I do think the question needs to be posed at what point are people expecting literally everything to fit their needs? I don’t think we are in a world of monopolized sexuality anymore. There now exists wonderful games for all kinds of people and it would be nice if folks could rally around what they love instead of spending all their time talking about what they hate.
Real talk though…how do they survive standing in lava while nude? I always wondered as a kid, thankfully never tried myself.