Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid is a stealth-action video franchise written and directed by Hideo Kojima and published by Konami. The Metal Gear Solid franchise is a subset of the Metal Gear franchise, which was also created by Kojima and published by Konami. The franchise, which is often renowned for its writing and exploration of various world-critical themes, saw its first entry in Metal Gear Solid, released in 1998 for the Playstation. Its final installment, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, released in 2015 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One systems. Beyond praise for the series' gameplay elements, consistent praise has been leveled at the compelling, relevant, and subversive nature of much of Kojima's writing. Prominent themes in some of the series' entries include genetics, the control of information and identity, war and conflict, and cycles of violence. In the games, players take control of various iterations of an operative named Snake, completing special missions. Over time, more critics have described Kojima's writing and handling of some of the themes in the games were described as prophetic to the modern day position of society and the flow of information.
- 1 History of Development: 1987 - 2004
- 2 Gameplay
- 3 Relevant Plot Summary
- 4 Ethical Implications
- 5 References
History of Development: 1987 - 2004
Hideo Kojima designed the original Metal Gear after taking the project over from a senior associate within Konami, "The company asked me to create a combat game. Actually, a senior associate had been in charge of it but he was stuck and I was asked to do it." The game debuted in 1987 for the MSX2 computer system in Japan and Europe. Outside of Kojima’s control, a heavily modified version of the game was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in Japan on December 22, 1987, North America in June 1988, and Europe and Australia sometime in 1989.
Also outside of Kojima’s control, a sequel called Snake's Revenge was created and released in Europe and North America in 1990. A member of the Snake's Revenge development team reached out to Kojima to create a "real Metal Gear sequel" which caused Kojima to start development on Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was released in Japan for the MSX2 in 1990. 
Kojima worked on other projects after the release of Metal Gear 2 before returning to the franchise with the creation of a third installment, Metal Gear Solid. He started development in 1994 and debuted Metal Gear Solid for the Playstation at the 1996 Tokyo Game Show.  It was released in 1998.  
The franchise’s popularity led to the creation of multiple sequels, spin-offs, and ports for different platforms including Microsoft Windows, the Game Boy Color, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was created and released in 2001 for Playstation 2 after the significant success of Metal Gear Solid. This was followed by a remake of Metal Gear Solid named Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes which was released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2004. 
Gameplay varies between entries in the Metal Gear Solid series. Commonalities between all games include some sort of third person player control (whether it be a birds-eye view or an over the shoulder view), gun-shooting and close-quarters-combat, and an incentive for stealthy traversal and remaining undetected by enemies. Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2: Guns of Liberty, feature a birds-eye-view style of gameplay, where the player controls Snake or Raiden. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater introduced an option to adopt the over the shoulder third person view that more games began adopting in the mid 2000s. This became the sole viewing options in all entries starting from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. 
Keeping with the series subtitle of "Tactical Espionage Action", finding ways to neutralize or outsmart enemies without lethal means is incentivized in the games. The player can tap on walls, disorient enemies with non-lethal stun grenades, choke them out and hide their unconscious bodies, or distract them with erotic magazines, among other methods. Games in the series offer special unlocks like certain items, weapons, and outfits for achieving certain feats, such as completing the entire game without killing anyone, without being detected by enemies, and by completing the game quickly. The player can hug walls to reduce detectability (and in some instances can alter the camera angle to view down certain hallways and corridors), and can crawl prone to reduce the sound they make while moving.
Relevant Plot Summary
Notably, the chronology of the Metal Gear Solid timeline is not completely in-line with the order that the games were released.
The Big Boss Era: Snake Eater, Peace Walker, and Phantom Pain
The chronologically earliest entry in the franchise is Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. In 1963 and 1964, Naked Snake (later known as Big Boss) has infiltrated the Soviet wilderness to rescue a Russian defector who is also a nuclear arms scientist, and also to halt the development of a new cutting edge Soviet nuclear weapon. Snake is remotely assisted on the mission by a group of colleagues, including a man named Zero. Following the mission, Snake (now Big Boss), Zero, and their other colleagues form a group known as the Patriots. The goal of the Patriots was to uphold the will of Big Boss's and Zero's idol, The Boss.
The Patriots grew more popular and prominent, with Big Boss becoming the group's mascot. However, a rift began between Big Boss and Zero. Zero worried about losing Big Boss's influence, and then created three clones using Big Boss's genetic material: Solid Snake, Liquid Snake, and Solidus Snake. Big Boss, disillusioned by this, left the Patriots.
At this point, Big Boss engages in numerous exploits worldwide, portrayed in the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. He aims to build an army without a nation. Meanwhile, Zero is growing old, and creates a cluster of artificial intelligence' to carry on his bidding after his passing, as he did not trust the next generation with his or The Boss's will.
The Modern Era: MGS1, Sons of Liberty, and Guns of the Patriots
Metal Gear Solid 1 sees the player taking control of Solid Snake, the son of Big Boss, in the early 2000s, where he infiltrates Shadow Moses Island to stop a terrorist cell led by his genetic twin, Liquid Snake. Liquid is demanding a ransom, threatening to activate a Metal Gear, a weapon capable of launching a nuclear weapon. Liquid is stopped by his brother.
Metal Gear Solid 2 sees the player taking control of rookie operative Raiden, as he infiltrates the Big Shell oil rig to rescue the President and disarm a terrorist cell. The terrorist cell is led by Solidus Snake, the third of the clone triplets. Along the way, he allies with Solid Snake. As the story progresses, Raiden uncovers that the real enemy is not the terrorist cell, but an AI construct. Specifically, the AI cluster had was created by Zero and had stuck around after his demise. The AI cluster created by the Patriots had essentially taken over the functions of the US government, information control worldwide, and critical infrastructure. Solidus planned to liberate society from the Patriots' control using terrorism, but at the cost of the institution keeping society intact. Solidus is stopped and killed by Raiden.
Metal Gear Solid 4, the final chronological entry in the franchise, sees Solid Snake nearing the end of his life. His brother, Liquid, has returned in the body of Ocelot, an old acquaintance of Big Boss. Liquid, like Solidus, aims to dismantle the Patriots in order to free the world from the Patriots' control, at the cost of risking societal collapse. Snake is able to defeat Liquid, and use a mutated computer virus, FOXALIVE, to destroy the AI cluster while keeping the institutions necessary for the continuity of modern society intact. Big Boss reappears, along with a comatose Zero, to reunite with his son Solid Snake. Big Boss and Zero then die, bringing an end to the era of the Patriots.
Censorship, Access to Information, and Central Authorities
As it relates to digital information and their ethics, for a large part of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, the over-arching antagonizing force is the Patriots. The Patriots began as an organization that aimed to be a benevolent force for the world. However, it morphed into a rogue censorship tool believing it was serving a benevolent purpose that an ordinary person would likely consider to be an infringement on their liberties.
As discussed in the Metal Gear Solid 2 plot summary, it is revealed that in the Metal Gear Solid universe, access to information is limited by a group of AI that curates all of the digital data that is generated by people. The game analogizes the evolution of information in modern society to the way that genes are passed on through natural selection - with the caveat that without a central authority, the information would remain unregulated. With the sheer quantity of information produced, it poses the potential to be problematic. The AI take on that role of the central information authority in the story.
The AI describes the potential danger of the masses having unlimited access to all of the information generated in the modern age. To the AI, much of the information is trivial, useless, and detrimental. From the AI's perspective, the same way that natural selection serves as a driving force for the evolution of species in nature in order to out compete their rivals, so too must humanity in the Information Age have a way of discarding irrelevant or distracting information. The AI in the game discusses examples like salacious petty scandals and slander as examples of commonly generated information that serves no positive impact to society, and in fact has the potential to be a detriment. If one were to apply the principles of a decentralized free-market economy to a hypothetical economy of information, then there exists the potential for the quantity of irrelevant information to overwhelming, thereby stagnating the advancement of the human race. The AI mentions how since the quantity and trivial nature of some of the information generated is too overwhelming for any typical human to curate - therefore, humans can not be trusted to uphold a rigorous and systematic decentralized methodology of processing, curating, and maintaining information that is generated digitally. Experts on digital and information ethics such as Luciano Floridi remark upon instances of low informational friction in the digital age, something that the AI remarks would be a detriment to the continuing advancement of human society.
In 2015, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain received an update from Konami which added a new service called “FOB insurance service”. FOB is short for Forward operating bases, which are additional resource farms that can be raided by other players online. The FOB insurance service protects your resources being stolen by other players. Any resources stolen by other players won’t be taken from your base. The players raiding your FOB will receive a “duplicate” of the resources looted. The FOB insurance adds a “pay to win” element to the game as the resources that should’ve been “looted” would remain if you have the insurance covering your base. Players aren’t penalized for failing to defend their resources. Furthermore, the insurance doesn’t cover every single lost from a raid. The insurance doesn’t cover for any abducted staff held in the Brig, any wounded staff, and staff used in defense.
The insurance costs Mother Base (MB) coins, which are available for purchase with real money. MB coins are collectible without paying real money, but the easiest way to farm the coins is to pay real money for them. A single day of insurance costs 50 coins, three days will cost 100 coins, a week of coverage costs 200 coins, and a two week coverage is 300 coins. Though Konami states the microtransaction is optional, it would still bring unfair advantages to players who are able to buy the insurance with real money. Like subscription based services, the insurance itself isn’t permanent either. Since the coverage only lasts for a limited time, players who want to protect their resources will have to pay for the insurance every time it expires. There have been discussions on whether or not the idea of adding insurance to a virtual gaming world is ethical or not. Players do not like the idea of spending real money to protect virtual data pieces that have no real value in real life.
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- Image: Metal Gear Solid logo https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/Metal_Gear_Solid_logo.png
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