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…of the Decade: The Shared Experience (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty)

January 5, 2010

In our house, video games have historically (and understandably) been my domain. The games we buy are typically things I want to play, the ones I talk about loving are typically solitary experiences. There’s not a lot of opportunity for multiplayer in my house, because the kids aren’t old enough and my wife is generally not that interested in carrying out male-dominated fantasy scenarios involving extreme aggression. Can’t really blame her.

As such, it’s always a pleasure when my wife and kids do join me in a gaming experience, a feeling reinforced by the recent release of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a game that’s proven to be a blast whether I’m playing with my wife, my kids, or even by myself. Peggle, Puzzle Quest, or even the Yahoo! Games-based J.T.’s Blocks, all of these are things we’ve been able to play together to one degree or another. We were playing Super Bust a Move when we realized that we needed to get to the hospital for the birth of our oldest daughter. These are things I remember, and times I treasure.

Still, there’s one shared experience, from late ’01 to early ’02, that stands out above all the others. Metal Gear Solid 2.

Yes, really.

Obviously, Metal Gear Solid 2 is something that doesn’t exactly stick out as a collaborative or potentially shared experience. You don’t even get the option to play multiplayer of any kind. No, this is the one game that my wife found she could watch.

Not long after the game began, I found myself motivated not by the typical wish to progress and perfect the game, but by the wish to laugh with my wife over the absurd, increasingly convoluted plot that unfolded over the course of it. Anyone who has played Metal Gear Solid 2 (or 3 or 4, for that matter) knows exactly the sort of plot that Hideo Kojima likes to toss into his more recent work, and it has nothing to do with logic and everything to do with excess. Kojima will throw in giant robots, supernatural baddies, and flirtatious pseudo-love stories if they suit his needs. He’ll even strip his protagonist bare-assed and make the player play the hunt for clothes.

It was a wonderful time, sharing that game with the love of my life, and it defined this decade as well as anything else I played.

I have one more of these “…of the Decade” pieces in me, and then I’ll never bother you with them again. I promise.

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