For as outlandish as the series could be, Hideo Kojima always tried to make sure Metal Gear Solid was grounded in reality. Among psychics, pseudoscience shenanigans, and superhuman feats that require a suspension of disbelief there’s a narrative intent on discussing real life issues with real life people. Halfway through the original Metal Gear Solid, it’s clear that Solid Snake isn’t a typical rough and tough video game protagonist, but a portrait of a depressed and utterly spent man who could very well exist.
The same can be said for Metal Gear Solid’s many themes. There’s the struggle to solidify one’s identity in a world where you’re told what to be, fighting to stick to your ideals no matter how hard it may be, and the, less personal and more bombastic so to speak, dangers regarding the mere presence of nuclear warheads.
Amidst all the humanity and anti-nuke messages are also conspiracies taken right out of real life. Metal Gear Solid 2 famously predicted NSA surveillance and the rise of social media while simultaneously outlining the dangers of all your private information being kept online. When it came to portraying real life conspiracies in media, Hideo Kojima was ahead of his time.
It’s almost scary just how many ideas present in Metal Gear Solid can be linked back to reality. The world shown in the Metal Gear Solid franchise isn’t a particularly pretty one. It’s war torn, controlled by all the wrong people, and manipulation is rampant. The unfortunate reality is, our real life is arguably worse. At least Metal Gear Solid has a Snake looking after its world.
15 The Events Of Snake Eater Actually Happened
Operation Snake Eater was the single event in Big Boss’ life that would shatter his worldview and set him on the path to becoming the tyrannical war criminal we all know and love. After his mentor, The Boss, supposedly defected to the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, Big Boss was sent to infiltrate Tselinoyarsk and kill her so the CIA could use her death and staged defection in order to cover up a blunder as a favor to Russia.
Just like how The Boss was used to cover up a government conspiracy, Edward Lee Howard claimed the reason he defected to the USSR was because the American government wanted to use him to cover up a fiasco with a Russian double agent. He was eventually found dead in his home with a broken neck suggesting very foul play.
14 We Are Being Monitored At All Times
A world free from the Patriots is exactly what Solidus was fighting for during Sons of Liberty. Their grasp on modern society was only growing with the advent of more accessible technology, so he deemed that an electrical wipe-out was the only way to save the United States. He ultimately fails which Snake acknowledges in Guns of the Patriots as a bad thing in hindsight, but Solidus had the right idea: the Patriots were monitoring society far too closely.
These days, it's impossible to get away from being monitored. Our phone calls are supposedly being listened in on, our messages can be easily read without our consent, and our basic living information can be found online with ease. Go ahead, try searching your home address online. Our privacy is anything but, which brings us to our next point.
13 Surgery Can Be Used To Alter Someone’s Entire Body And Psyche
In true Kojima fashion, The Phantom Pain’s twist was equal parts genius and sheer insanity. After spending roughly 60 hours running around Afghanistan and Africa, you discover that you aren't playing as Big Boss but a decoy that was surgically altered to look like and think he was the real Big Boss. The meta-meaning is meant to be a thank you to the player base by saying that you were Big Boss all along, but there are some weird, real life clues that give the whole concept credibility.
While the procedure hasn't gone underway yet, neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero claimed in 2015 that, by 2017, he would be able to perform a successful head transplant. Kojima even went so far as to model the doctor that operates on Venom Snake after Canavero. Whether or not Canavero will succeed is up in there, but this could be our first step into getting our own Big Boss doppelgangers. Probably not, though.
12 Newborns Are Used As Bargaining Tools
One of the best aspects of the first three Solid games is how Kojima takes themes and scenarios from the previous game and tweaks them just enough to become something new entirely. In Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden finds out Olga’s daughter is being held hostage by the Patriots and the only way to save her is to kill Solidus and ensure the Patriots survive. In Metal Gear Solid 3, The Boss informs Big Boss that the Philosopher’s held her newborn son hostage from the moment of birth to make sure she never stopped acting as their personal soldier. They're emotional backdrops that give these characters and games more depth, but they're also rooted in reality.
An infant is the perfect bargaining chip. Parents form an instantaneous attachment to their children, and when their children’s lives are on the line, they're prone to do just about anything to keep them safe. There have been many cases where hostage situations involved babies — when innocent lives are on the line, desperation kicks in.
11 Culture Is Used As A Means To Condition People
Any American citizen knows that there's a very strong military presence in the United States. Veterans are lauded as heroes, armed forces scout high schools for potential enlistments, and just about every American made film or show is pro-military if the subject arises. Uncle Sam wants you; each and every one of you.
In Metal Gear Solid 2, Olga’s Russian heritage and background keeps her loyal to her men and working for the Patriots despite her desire to leave the armed forces. Metal Gear Solid 3 has Big Boss’ American idealism is intentionally broken down by The Boss when she realizes what he could easily become. Lastly, Metal Gear Solid 4 shows what happens when War as a concept becomes a culture, and soldiers just end up following meaningless orders for no real goal, reason, or belief.
10 Earth Is At The Cusp Of Nuclear Annihilation At Any Given Moment
Nuclear deterrence is a subject Hideo Kojima is incredibly passionate about, to the point where it becomes the core theme of Peace Walker and the driving force behind The Phantom Pain’s cut third chapter. The original Metal Gear Solid even ends with a documentary-like PSA that mentions how many nuclear warheads are currently active. Kojima is clearly worried about the dangers of nuclear annihilation, and he has every right to be.
As of the publishing of this article, the United States, the U.K., China, France, Russia, North Korea, Pakistan, and India all have access to nukes. It just takes one country to let off a nuke for someone else to retaliate and launch Earth into a total nuclear destruction. We have incredibly powerful weapons that can wipe an entire nation off the face of the globe. Maybe we should be as frightened as Kojima.
9 Wars Are Manipulated For Specific Agendas
Several theorists argue that both World Wars were orchestrated with economic growth in mind, and if you subscribe to what's seen in Metal Gear Solid, you'd be hard-pressed to disagree.
Every major war in the 21st century, according to Metal Gear Solid, was orchestrated for the sake of either transferring political power to one group or maintaining said power. The last war we see in Metal Gear Solid 4 is the most blatant, with soldiers fighting for no discernible reason exist for the Patriots to make a profit off of the war economy and seize perpetual control of the civilized world.
8 People Can Be, And Are, Brainwashed
In order to get himself to betray Big Boss’ wishes in The Phantom Pain, Ocelot hypnotized and brainwashes himself to lose all memory of the man he considers Big Boss in order to trick The Patriots. The concept of brainwashing is one Kojima played around with before, but never as in-depth as he did during The Phantom Pain.
If you believe that sleeper agents exist or existed, then his use of brainwashing isn't too far-fetched, especially when you take into account that most of Big Boss’ saga takes place in the Cold War when that would have been commonplace. When you take into account how much pro-military propaganda we see on a daily basis, it's certainly easy to believe that soldiers can be brainwashed.
7 Society Is Being Programed To Give Up Their Privacy
Another of Solidus’ fears was just how easily it would be for the Patriots to manipulate society into giving up all their private information. The whole reason the Patriots end up gaining total control of the world’s militaries is because soldiers are encouraged to give up all their information in exchange for nanomachines that allow them to work better in a group. As a result, the Patriots not only know everything about them but can shut their nanomachines down at any moment, leaving them completely stranded in the battlefield.
In real life, most of us are on Facebook with our full names. Some of us even have our phone numbers on our profiles. A lot of us are on Instagram where we constantly post photos of our daily lives that can be tracked to what we’ve done and where we’ve been. Sure, you can set your accounts to private, but it's not truly private unless you're the only one seeing it. When everyone’s sharing everything about themselves, do you really want to be the odd man out?
6 Opposition Leads To Assassination
Immediately after President Johnson exposits everything Raiden and the player need to know about the Patriots, Ocelot walks in and, in a blindsiding move, shoots Johnson but allows Raiden to live. Johnson’s death is particularly surprising because, up until this point, we are lead to believe they’re on the same side and, the truth of the matter is, they are. Ocelot only killed him because Johnson began to act independently of his organization’s goals. While it doesn’t happen nearly as often, or with the same level of frequency, there have been many cases of journalists mysteriously dying while covering a controversial case.
5 Shadow Organizations Run Our Countries
The Patriots are the overarching villains in Metal Gear Solid. Essentially every major crisis in the series can be linked back in one way or another to The Patriots. Their predecessors are set up in Snake Eater, they threaten President Sanders, aka Solidus, into compromising his ideals in the first game, and they've taken control of every major military force by the time Guns of the Patriots begins.
The Patriots are directly based off of conspiracies surrounding the Illuminati while also acting as a warning to what would happen if one singular group somehow gained an economic, majority rule. Wars would be manipulated for the sake of profit at the expense of a weaker nation’s resources. Whether or not a shadow government controls most of the modern world will most likely never truly answered or acknowledged, but it’s clear enough to some that strings are being pulled in certain directions.
4 The Media Is Loosening Its Definitions Of “Terrorism”
When you see the word “terrorist,” it's almost a guarantee you’ll associate it with something violent, radical, and possibly religious. Terrorism definitely exists, but the media has been using the term in a very specific way for a while now. It's meant to invoke fear and anger from and towards a specific group much like how The Patriots label Snake and Otacon terrorists in order to kill their anti-Metal Gear movement in the eyes of the populous.
Since the media in Metal Gear Solid is directly controlled by the Patriots, they take Snake’s non-violent Metal Gear destruction and spin it as an act of ecoterrorism ensuring that no one in their right mind would publicly support their goal anymore regardless if they fit the actual definition.
3 Demonizing Those Who Oppose You
It's hard to ignore how much demonization happens daily on Twitter — in the past few months alone major governments have attacked themselves inside and out. Turning scapegoats into enemies of the state is common today, and it is exactly what happens to many characters in Metal Gear Solid.
Solidus is probably the best example as he demonstrates contraction goals to the Patriots and is subsequently turned into public enemy number one. As President Sanders, he ends up losing his seat after the incident at Shadow Moses and is then labeled a terrorist by the Patriots since he feels they have too much control over the American public. He doesn't even do anything too extreme in retaliation until after they've branded him a traitor in the political world.
2 The 2016 Election’s Purpose Was To Entertain The Masses
When Raiden meets up with the President for the first time during Metal Gear Solid 2, President Johnson unveils exactly how the Patriots manipulate and structure American elections. They choose whatever politicians are currently active, set up the opposition in order to push a specific agenda, and then maneuver the rest of the winner’s term until completion. Most interestingly, Johnson mentions how the Patriots, and by extension, the media, utilize the election period as a means to entertain the American population.
Coming hot off the 2016 US election and how the media handled it, it’s clear that President Johnson had some fair points about molding a major political event into a ratings darling. The race to the White House was covered by every major news source non-stop.
1 Cloning Is Being Developed For The Sake Of War
Solid Snake being one of Big Boss’ clones is one of the most important plot points in the entire series. It not only shakes the very foundation of our main character’s existence, it also opens the narrative up to themes of nature versus nurture and what constitutes being alive.
Cloning procedures have mostly been relegated to animals, but scientists have been able to discover a great deal about a given body’s ability to restore or regenerate itself. If cloning advanced to a stage where humans could clone their own organs, it would circumvent the need for donors and wait lists. It all seems like a miracle of modern science, but there are those detractors that see how it can be used for war. Say a soldier got shot in the stomach, he could just have a cloned version of his stomach transplanted in and then shipped back into the battlefield when he's no longer bedridden.
It's not the same level of cloning Snake undergone, but it's the same concept: create a soldier who can never die.