A Formal Analysis of Metal Gear Solid 2
James Clinton Howell
IX: The Solid Map
A crucial difference between traditional and interactive media changes the relationship between heroes and events. Traditional media require that their audiences exist apart from the objects, and, after exposure, an audience will grow closer to an object via imagination. A videogame requires overt participation. It needs the player to become a literal part of the object. Gamers who had played MGS1 knew that MGS2’s emergencies called for a hero and that MGS2’s hero called for the player.
MGS2 used the medium’s particular qualities to manipulate both the player and the actor when they stitched their identities together. At the start of the Plant Chapter, Raiden’s Commanding Officer (C. O.) told him to access a digital node, to which Raiden responded: “Did you say nerd?” When Raiden accessed the node, the player had input his own name that later appeared on Raiden’s dogtags. MGS2 bound Raiden to the player—a nerd—when Raiden accessed the node, and it bound the player to an actor who he didn’t always like but who obeyed his commands, even when those actions violated Raiden’s character.
If the player had Raiden kill seagulls, Raiden’s girlfriend called to convey her disapproval of Raiden’s new pleasure in animal abuse. She likewise expressed disappointment if the player had Raiden punch hostages. MGS2 forced Raiden to obey the player’s commands as an actor even when those commands damaged his character and his relationships.
The player could no longer control Solid Snake, but he
expected his new actor to act like Solid Snake. From within the narrative,
Raiden shared the player’s expectations of himself as an actor.
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