The Kojima Standard: 5 Attributes to Good Entertainment
~ musing on the self-professed “standard for entertainment” of one legendary artist and gaming auteur, Hideo Kojima.
One of the best social media follows — and one of the best game developers of all-time — Hideo Kojima uses such spaces to express himself unlike any other.
Recently, I came across an old tweet from the legendary Japanese game dev, wherein he lays out his personal standard for entertainment. Grammatically smushed and perhaps rife with mistranslated wordings, the message gave me pause.
The text, as-written/translated:
My standard for entertainment.
➜Things makes me forget the time (time killer)
➜Things gives me power to survive tomorrow
➜Things teaches me unknown world and flourishes my life
➜Things pushes my back in dilemma and changes the way of my life
➜Things makes me create (MEME spread)
Kojima is known to gaming audiences around the world as the man behind Metal Gear — the critically and commercially acclaimed stealth-action video game series — spanning the MSX to PlayStation 1–4 (1986–2015!) — where you play a spy codenamed “Snake,” who fights global nuclear annihilation and U.S. military imperialism against a colorful rogues gallery of triple agents, clones, psychics, and cyber ninja.
~ my heartfelt essays on each game / story / love of the Metal Gear Solid saga.
I have recently been reading his first book, released in fall 2021 — The Creative Gene. Within it, Kojima details through essays and book/movie reviews all of the fictional experiences that shaped his life.
It turns out his standard for entertainment vibes well with my own. A known lover of cinema (his bio reads — “Game Creator: 70% of my body is made of movies.”), Kojima’s an experienced tastemaker with a clear structure to how he consumes media. Much needed in today’s saturated realm of copies, clones, and crap, his words reflect a thoughtful approach to what kinds of movies, music, and games he considers worthy.
It’d be best for all modern digital citizens to develop their own ethos on how they absorb the world around them.
Why not adopt “The Kojima Standard”? The 5 attributes to all good entertainment.
Here’s my breakdown on the words and messages within the legend’s 2018 tweet:
#1 — Time Killer
Few stimuli, physical and mental, are as powerful as those which make us forget time.
You know you enjoyed yourself when it all passes by too quickly.
“Time flies when you’re having fun.”
Psychologists call it a flow state.
Being engaged with a person, their performance, the spectacle of a story or its action before you, so much so that you forget your own consciousness for a spell — means a work of art has surpassed a job well done.
Simple to understand this; we all yearn for a delightful escape from reality, from time to time. Entertainment as a positively time-killing experience being Kojima’s first attribute makes a lot of sense.
#2 — Gift Power to Survive Tomorrow
Here is where Kojima starts to get poetic with his musings on his standard for entertainment, open to some interpretation.
Art gives me the power to keep moving forward when it provides inspiration via inventive imagery. Fiction that can help you face tomorrow is rare — and thus, vital.
And just to be clear, I don’t think a story has to have a happy ending, or even likable characters, to be inspiring.
Artwork of all kinds, including that which brims with despair, violence, depravity — can make us appreciate life more. Stories expand our very consciousness to see more of the world, more of the possibility of this mortal coil. Music makes us grateful to be alive and breathing.
Art should “harrow our souls,” as legendary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky says:
I think Kojima probably meant some of this with his words.
#3 — Teach Unknown Worlds and Flourish Life
The best part of fantasies crafted from the page is that they can take us anywhere. And not just in *this* world.
Fictional worlds worth experiencing are everything to the medium of storytelling. Teaching us of their histories through worldbuilding and their present action with engaging characters is naturalized into every form of story out there.
In truth, the creation of alternative worlds — imagined from roots within ours — is to flourish *life* as a storyteller. Not just mine, but the very concept of life itself.
Our capacity to imagine other worlds today is what makes them possible tomorrow.
That’s my belief as an unabashed idealist. And Kojima-sama’s as well.
~ My top 7 fictional worlds, in a chronology of my experience: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Princess Mononoke, Game of Thrones, Berserk, Hunter x Hunter, Legend of Galactic Heroes
#4 — Push Dilemmas and Change Way of Life
I’ve interpreted this point by Kojima to mean *thought-provoking.*
And yes, shouldn’t all media provoke thoughts? What other role does it have?
The mental world is where we live when we engage with art and story (and the news). Even as a performer or creator — when you perform and create you are embodying another world, living out other people’s thoughts via imagination.
Pushing ‘dilemmas’ means challenging our worldview. Facing a good dilemma means sincere self-reflection with a chance for change.
“Damn, what a tale/character/moral. I wonder if I’m wrong about X or Y in my life? Perhaps I should reevaluate…”
Changing one’s ‘way of life’ can operate on a spectrum. It doesn’t mean joining the Peace Corp after watching the horrors of a war film (yet, would that be so bad?) But good art can engage with our personal culturedness in a way that can draw us into — at best, self-improvement / at worst, an expansion of consciousness; i.e. we learn something.
Just a few examples from my childhood and the impressionable impacts some pivotal films had on me:
- The Lion King (1994) taught me about pride and politics and companionship and betrayal + lion battles and fun songs
- Jurassic Park (1993) was a cautionary tale on unchecked ambition and the hubris of Man in thinking he can control nature + cool dinosaurs and a new mom and dad, in Doctors Sattler (Dern) and Grant (Neill)
- Toy Story (1995) showed me how all my toys were living beings with hopes and dreams, could feel pain, and that I had overwhelming power over them. Thus, I should always be nice to them.
- The Matrix (1999) revealed that it’s not so fun to be alone online, or in a fight + Keanu Reeves & Carrie-Anne Moss are hot.
- V for Vendetta (2005) confirmed to my heart the truth that a government should fear its people. Revolution against tyranny is necessary. Fighting for what you believe in makes you as invincible as an idea.
You get the picture. We want thought-provoking.
#5 — MEME Spread
Ah yes, memes. The DNA of the soul.
Memes are one of Hideo Kojima’s many obsessions. And by this we mean:
“an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.”
Cultural genetics. Memes = myths as DNA. Scientifically speaking, memes are what we pass on to future generations, beyond our blood — by the way we live.
With “MEME spread,” I believe Kojima means that when he goes to the theater to watch Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and walks out with stars in his eyes, eager to center the intriguing sci-fi concept of transhumanism in his next video game creation — that is GOOD entertainment.
Art that inspires other art is meme spread. And it should be the goal of every true blue artist. Kojima understands this.
So did Kobe, RIP:
Memes, like stories, are seeds. They must be understood to be cultivated, and they must be cultivated if they are to grow into trees.
I believe we should all be planting.
Through my own storytelling, I try to spread good memes and study bad ones. Because I think it is supremely important what we pass on to the future.
There it is, The Kojima Standard. 5 solid attributes to benchmark all your viewings, readings, and media play things of choice against.
Not everything need meet all 5 criteria to garner your attention. Certainly, a 5/5 will be rare, and should be. Pay your respects when a piece of work does such a thing for you.
For you. That’s another obvious caveat in trying to systematize anything as subjective as art appreciation — it’s subjective! Not to be nonsensical or counterintuitive to everything I just wrote, but *your* Kojima Standard will be unique to you and you alone.
Use these words and interpretations as a guide.
Find what you enjoy and have fun with it.
As a side note: this type of standard-setting sentiment, for good entertainment, has also come to apply to my consumption of social media. I cultivate a twitter feed of mostly retweets with such imaginative, consciousness-expanding territory in mind.
In who I follow and in what I post onto my pages, I have standards. Sure, I harbor the occasional shitpost. But on the whole, I am looking for beautiful and intriguing art, poetry, philosophy. I am looking for heart.
I suggest looking for the same in all that you do.
Hope you enjoyed this transmission. Godspeed y’all. ~