Hideo Kojima is a rather polarizing figure in the video game world. He created the beloved Metal Gear series during his tenure with Konami. Once he parted ways with the pachinko giant, he went on a tour. He visited studios around the world and explored new locales. Which, in turn, helped shape Kojima Productions and Death Stranding. Fans of prolific creatives often wonder what inspires them to pursue those dreams and makes them so successful. Whereas normal people like you and I will surely never get to hang out with Hideo Kojima, like his famous friends Guillermo Del Toro or Norman Reedus, we can get to know him via his book The Creative Gene. It is a collection of selected essays written by the man himself.
The Creative Gene Hideo Kojima book is split into two collections of essays. The latter selection, “Things I Liked at a Certain Place or Time,” are older essays previously published in papyrus where Kojima writes reflective pieces about technology (the evolution of the Walkman and iPod), his dreams of space, and revisiting films decades later. “My Loveable Memes” contains essays written over the past decade for Da Vinci, including during his time of transition from Konami to building his studio through the planning and release Death Stranding.
Kojima offers the reader a rare look at his private life. His upbringing, the loss of his father at a young age, struggling with depression, and being a parent are all woven into these pages. Connections shared in the hopes of making new strands.
Page after page, I drew parallels between Kojima’s obsession with media and storytelling formats to my own life. He described how his affair with reading began and turned into near daily visits to the bookstore. Even though we were born nearly two decades apart, he and I both devoured Agatha Christie novels when we were about the same age. Authors like Miyuki Miyabe, Kazuo Umezz, Robert B Parker, China Mieville appear, and are all names I too have read. Strands connecting me with Kojima.
But it isn’t just novels that affected Kojima’s life and thought processes. He has a well documented love of the silver screen. It turns out family movie night with his parents and brother planted that seed. The family gathered around the TV to watch domestic and foreign films.
And then there’s music. One essay reveals the strand connecting Kojima to Low Roar and how this band wove itself into the fabric of Death Stranding. Another shares with us how Joy Division was there for him during the struggles he faced in college.
When I finished reading the interview at the end of The Creative Gene, I gently closed the book and took a deep, contemplative breath. Throughout these 251 pages I became closer to Kojima. His passion for the movies, books, and music he chose to share in this book wrapped around me. Even where our preferences diverged, inspiration dug in and lifted confidence in myself. It’s a fantastic look into the mind of one of gaming’s best known designers and one I am sure to revisit when I need a creative bump.
The Creative Gene is published by Viz Media and immediately available for purchase.