If Metal Gear Solid V incorporates a transgender narrative, Kojima will get it right
Metal Gear Solid has been an iconic series for its thought-provoking story, a gallery of memorable characters while establishing video games as a medium for storytelling. It's also well known for pushing to portray the LGBT community in a positive manner.
The series has done more to push for better portrayals of LGBT characters in pop culture than most other work. The games have featured a variety of characters that broke away from the stereotype to drive one of gaming's most memorable stories.
However, all of that seemed not to matter in Vice's recent opinion piece by Jake Kivanc that questions the motives of one of gaming's most iconic series.
Transgender in pop culture
The subject is in regards to the theory that in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Quiet is actually Chico who had gender reassignment surgery after the events of Ground Zero. However, it should be noted that several people involved in the development of the game have denied this theory.
In the entire opinion, not once does Kivanc acknowledges how the series has introduced many iconic LGBT characters while comparing the presence of a transgender character to the shock value of Custer's Revenge. Even more insulting are the fears that her presence is going to be nothing less than a joke similar to the character of Lois Einhorn in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
Metal Gear Solid and the role of LGBT in gaming
Kivanc concerns would hold merit if it were Call of Duty that was introducing a transgender, instead the concern is directed towards a series that has done more to push the positive portrayal of the LGBT community than most other works of pop-culture.
Metal Gear Solid has always been very progressive regarding the depiction of LGBT characters by giving them strong traits and significant roles. Players have encountered a diverse gallery of major LGBT characters such as Vamp and Strangelove to minor side characters like Scott Dolph.
Also, unlike other works of pop-culture, their sexual orientation is not a plot point or a source of humor but a description of who they are as a person. Their sexual orientation is treated as part of who the character is alongside their skills are and where they're from. Orientation is part of their description, not their whole definition.
The significance of Colonel Volgin
Most of the LGBT characters mentioned pale in comparison to the significance of Colonel Yevgeny Volgin, the main villain in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. In the story, he is the most powerful military figure in the Soviet Union and has organized a hawkish-faction in a plot to replace Nikita Khrushchev with Leonid Brezhnev. His actions brought America and the USSR on the brink of war but in the end was defeated by Big Boss.
Unlike most LGBT characters, Colonel Volgin was a complete break from the feminine traits that have been used as a trope in pop-culture. Instead, gamers go up against a villain that represents the ideological desire for power who also happens to be gay. Even more surprising is that Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was released a year before socially progressive content of Brokeback Mountain became a media buzz.
There has been some debate over Colonel Volgin's sexual orientation as at first glance it appears that he may be bisexual due to his relationship with Eva. However, it has been pointed out that his relationship with her is mostly about torture while his relationship with Major Raikov is more emotional and sexual based. It's mostly agreed among many gamers that he is gay and not bisexual.
Metal Gear Solid and the LGBT Community
Despite the social changes that have followed, Hollywood has still failed to create a strong and powerful LGBT character like Colonel Volgan. At best one could say that Renly Baratheon or Loras Tyrell from Game of Thrones came closest. However, both of them have failed to have the strong-willed personality that has made Colonel Volgan an iconic character.
At the same time, we should not neglect the popularity of Metal Gear Solid among the LGBT gaming community along with the countless theories that have followed. Many fans have noted the many innuendos within the series along with theories of other major characters being gay. Among the most popular theories have been about Revolver Ocelot being gay and having feelings of love for Big Boss.
If Hideo Kojima is planning to introduce a transgender character to the gaming world, he has once again broken stereotypes that have defined a population. There is nothing wrong with introducing a transgender character to the gaming world and there is nothing to fear regarding their portrayal when a progressive artist handles it.
Metal Gear Solid does not just appeal to a juvenile demographic; it's a smart series. If Hideo Kojima introduces a transgender character in MSGV, we're sure it'll be a great and respectful portrayal just like Metal Gear's other LGBT characters are.