Following the success of Metal Gear Solid (1998), Hideo Kojima became an auteur-like celebrity with a divisive reputation. What is perhaps most distinctive about the designer's oeuvre is his embrace of video games as a composite medium. His games combine rule-based systems, non-linear elements and elements adapted from linear narrative media. Because the adapted elements hereby retain many of their original characteristics, this results in a playing experience shaped by frequent changes between different forms of player engagement and linear narrative elements. This puts Kojima at odds with audiences who might find both his linear style of narration and apparent disinterest in a more seamless presentation to disregard video games' unique possibilities.
Almost Kojima's entire oeuvre presents diegetic scenarios in which real and fictional events are intertwined. Thematically, the games frequently deal with the effect of technological developments on society. In this, the themes do not only reflect the designer's interest in technology but also his upbringing in post-World War II Japan. While the scenarios themselves appear modeled after Western popular film, they also include elements like cyborg ninjas or abrupt changes in the narrative tone, which are more strongly associated with Japanese popular culture.
Beginning with Metal Gear (1987), Kojima's design of ludic rule-based systems can be described as procedural adaptations (Weise 239) of popular film. This stretches from the simple shooting segments of his early visual novels to the complex stealth-based gameplay of later Metal Gear titles. The Metal Gear series' development further suggests Kojima to be neither particularly interested in the iterative design process typical for video game sequels, nor in the balance of their rule-based systems. Rather, rule-based elements were frequently discarded rather than refined, and the games often allowed degenerate strategies (Salen/Zimmerman 241).
It remains to be seen how Death Stranding (2019) will fit into this. After Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008) there was a marked shift in Kojima's games towards a greater focus on rule-based systems and away from cinematic bombast. Trailers for the upcoming title have so far centered on highlighting the recruited Hollywood talent.
Weise, Matthew: “The Rules of Horror: Procedural Adaptation in Clock Tower, Resident Evil, and Dead Rising.” Horror Video Games. Essays on the Fusion of Fear and Play, edited by Bernard Perron, McFarland, 2009, pp. 238-266.