Bits & Bytes: Tricks

Robert talks about Hideo Kojima’s new book this Halloween Sunday!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 10/31/2021 23:38 Comment on this     ShareThis

Bits & Bytes is a weekly column where Editor-in-Chief Robert shares his thoughts about video games and the industry on a lazy Sunday. Light reading for a day of rest, Bits & Bytes is short, to the point, and something to read with a nice drink.

Halloween Sunday found me busy working, but in the back of my mind was a recent purchase that I was anxious to get to. That purchase? Hideo Kojima’s new book. Freshly translated into English and published by VIZ, The Creative Gene: How books, movies, and music inspired the creator of Death Stranding and Metal Gear Solid has been out since October 19. I, meanwhile, didn’t realize it was even heading to American shelves. I was stoked when I read about it and promptly headed out to buy it as soon as I could.

And then Sunday came and I was working and the book was tucked away in my backpack.

My Halloween was a lot more tricks than treats. No fun, just work. Sigh.

I’ve been able to read a very small bit of The Creative Gene, however, and my understanding of it to this point is that it’s a book about (as the title so aptly puts it) the inspirations that helped to mold Kojima into the creator that he is today. I just wrote in this column last week about the things that help inspire me creatively, so it’s very interesting to get a glimpse into that process for a visionary like Kojima. One point that Kojima has raised is already sticking with me and it’s something that I’m looking forward to talking about with my students tomorrow.

The point isn’t necessarily a new or original one, but coming from Kojima it certainly lends it further credence. The argument is that the algorithms that oversee all of our online interactions can insulate us from seeing new things that might capture our attentions and inspire us. If you’re on Google, for instance, your search history frames what results are populated for you versus what another person typing the same inquiry might see on their end. Further compounding the issue is that third parties can pay to push their goods or page above another entity’s, which makes one’s individual search results even more dubious in terms of being a genuine reflection of that person’s search history.

Kojima argues that something like a bookstore, meanwhile, has shelf after shelf filled with books that are in no way reflective of your own personal tastes. This means that a casual search of the multiple volumes on the walls will yield results that are unpredictable and, ultimately, possibly more worthwhile. to the person doing the searching. I personally liken it to genetic variance—if DNA wasn’t able to randomly mutate and adapt, humans would never have become the creatures that we are now. Targeted Google and Amazon search results are like restricting variance in that they create walled, limited ecosystems that, in the end, stymie the user and prevent them from growing.

Okay, I probably butchered that analogy, but hopefully my point has managed to shine through! I know that Kojima’s did for me. Once I’ve given it a full read, look forward to a Book Club installment focused on it. Until then, I’ll be sitting back and reading The Creative Gene. If you’d like a copy for yourself, hit up this link.

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