Kojima: Waterboarding, Torture ‘Needs To Be Done’ In Games Like MGS

Kojima: Waterboarding, Torture ‘Needs To Be Done’ In Games Like MGS

While Metal Gear Solid is a franchise that has included torture in the past, not only are more and more games including it recently — GTA and Splinter Cell, for example — it’s still a sensitive subject that’s hard to pull off tastefully.

So naturally, it’s always a thing that people like to discuss — particularly, how to handle it properly, and whether or not it should be included at all in games. If you ask Hideo Kojima, though, torture is definitely a subject that he feels games should explore according to a recent interview with Eurogamer… but maybe that was obvious, given that trailers for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V have shown torture such as waterboarding and electrocution.

See for yourself:

Still, while it’s a subject that he feels games should explore, and while Metal Gear Solid V itself will include it, torture won’t be in there in an interactive capacity.

“[Torture is] something that needs to be done,” said Kojima to Eurogamer. “As the expressiveness of video games goes up, if you want to go beyond that it’s not something you can avoid. Of course not all video games have to do this, and in my case it’s not something that I want to go through. If the violence will give new emotions that are important to the game, I want to put it in there, especially with this game where one of the main topics is revenge. I don’t want to walk around that.”

“I didn’t want to go as far as having playable torture. The part of Metal Gear Solid 5 that has torture is non-playable,” he explained.

It’s curious to me that Kojima thinks this is a subject games should explore — I don’t disagree, but I do wonder why the scenes in Metal Gear Solid V aren’t interactive (especially if they have been in the past). Isn’t that the whole point of games or whatever?

Metal Gear Solid 5’s torture scene will be non-playable [Eurogamer]


  • I think if torture is in a game it should do one or both of the following: provide some kind of justification for why such violence needs to occur, or make the player feel horrified/disgusted at what is happening. I think that to make torture some kind of spectacle, a way to empower the player and make them feel good about it like some kind of badass is in incredibly poor taste. Torture should be something the player has to do, not something they want to do, and they should hate themselves for it.

    • “It can be difficult to explore a controversial subject such as torture without coming across as exploitative or flippant.”

      That better?

    • I agree… Why is torture such a big deal all of a sudden. Hasn’t pretty much every MGS game so far had a section where the player is tortured? And it’s interactive?

  • I just got through the torture sequence in GTA V last night. Don’t know what the big deal is, really. So it’s especially not a big deal if it ain’t interactive.

  • The word “tastefully” is annoying me here a bit. I mean taseful compared to what? Is torture tasteful? I should hope not. Instead of trying to plant seeds in people’s heads with the last line, why doesn’t Kotaku explore these issues instead of posing a question or pointing a finger then running away?

    I would also argue especially in GTA, torture isn’t meant to be tasteful. I won’t spoil the scene but if you’ve played it and somewhat understand things like player agency and mechanics, you’ll know why the scene was there. Listening to Trevor before and after gives you an idea of how games can provide somewhat insightful commentary on an issue like torture.

  • If they really feel that torture ‘needs to be done’ to prove a point, it should be happening to the protagonist [Edit: Or someone we care about], and they should find a way to convey how truly maddening and terrifying the experience is of having someone short-circuit your brain to feel that it is in the process of dying painfully, like waterboarding does.

    Anything else is pretty futile, being little more than a way of saying, “Ooo-err, our protagonist/these people are gritty and well ‘ard, and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.” Very Jack Bauer. Most video game characters are the kind of grizzled that consider a bullet-to-the-face execution a mercy and a matter of routine, torture has very little impact or consequence in these virtual worlds.

    If you can convey torture in a way that makes people sick and not want to play it, if you can make the next, “No Russian,” then yeah, maybe you’ve succeeded.

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