Konami, one of Japan’s video gaming giants, recently had what can be called a minor coup. Its top producers, Hideo Kojima, scraped up a large portion of the company’s talents under him as well as the horror-genre sequel Silent Hill as he severed ties with Konami to form his new studio: Kojima Productions.
The Company’s first project, which carried over a lot of the talent from the now canceled Silent Hill, featured an all-star line up: Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead, Mads Mikkelsen from Casino Royale, Guillermo Del Toro from Pan’s Labyrinth, and Junji Ito – the greatest comic book horror master alive today. Some of the biggest names spanning across multiple forms of media came together to create a video game.
The reason I’m prefacing this article Kojima Production’s new game is that there had been a fair amount of criticism behind Virtual Reality and its potential uses outside of video gaming. The technology does face a lot of difficulties compared to traditional film making: Its ability to allow users a 360 degree view basically kills direction in camera placement, giving the users an ability to move creates a similar problem, and film makers can no longer direct audiences to a point of interest or emphasize certain points of importance in their film, thereby eliminating part of their artistic expression.
However, from Kojima’s point of view, we are constantly on a journey towards the merging of different forms of media. The fact the roster of actors involved in video games contain Kevin Spacey, Liam Neeson, Mads Mikkelsen and Guilermo Del Toro shows that artist and directors are excited about this new realm of media instead of shying away from it.
Virtual Reality is be the very first instance this merging began. The game Silent Hill published in 1999 serves as one of the first examples of how video games and film could be combined successfully. Instead of giving us a simple 8-bit sprite of a superman performing impossible tasks, we are met with an extremely grounded, albeit a little boring protagonist, Harry Townshend.
For one of the first times, a video game protagonist felt real. As Harry travels through the haunted town of Silent Hill, we begin to question Harry’s version of reality, of the monster he sees as he was revealed to be mentally unstable. While other horror games were hurling random objects at you in order to create jump scares, Silent Hill was creating scenes like this:
If this game had done anything, it proved that video games need not be an outlet for our childish dreams or violent intentions, but also as pieces of art that has the potential to contribute immensely to a specific genre or medium. Here’s to hoping that Virtual Reality will do the same to culture in the near future.