Breaking Down What Ludens Means For Kojima’s Next Game

Hideo Kojima has revealed the rest of the body that goes along with Kojima Productions’ defining logo. The futuristic space knight even has a name apparently – Ludens. In the render shown in Kojima’s tweet, we see Ludens standing tall holding a flag boasting the official company logo, evoking the photographs taken during the 1969 Moon landing.

The character’s name is directly related to language the company used during their opening in January: “We are Homo Ludens. We are those who play.” The second half of that cryptic message refers to the Latin translation of the Homo Ludens, “Man playing.”

So what does all of this mean? Is Ludens simply a personification of Kojima’s mission statement in his new venture, or does it go deeper? As the mind behind Metal Gear Solid, Kojima has never been one to break out jargon among the caliber of “Homo Ludens” unless it has multiple meanings and implementations into what he’s doing.

Evidence of this everywhere in the series that made him famous, Metal Gear Solid. For instance, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is all about strange sayings with multiple meanings. Later in the game (spoilers), the player is introduced to the S3 program, which supposedly stands for Solid Snake Simulation. This was to refer to pacing and story beats strikingly similar to the original Metal Gear Solid, and that Raiden has been living out a simulation of MGS1 the entire time. But in reality, we learn, the S3 plan is truly the Selection for Societal Sanity, which aimed to test whether or not the AI program G.W. could control the flow of information in the world without any human input.

Another example of Kojima’s propensity for multiple meanings are the first three MGS games, which he designed as a trilogy. He’s always stated that each of the three games has a theme that applies to the game in multiple ways: MGS’s is GENE, MGS2’s is MEME, and MGS3’s is SCENE.

GENE in MGS1 refers to the genial relationship between the main characters Solid Snake and Liquid Snake, twin brothers genetically formed from the DNA of legendary soldier Big Boss. Its other meaning refers to the Genome soldiers that occupy Shadow Moses Island in the game, and set the stage for conflicts. MGS2’s MEME theme was a reference to the repetition of military simulations ran by the AI G.W., as well as the echo chambers of internet culture on a global scale. MGS3’s SCENE refers to the game’s iconic setting of 1960’s Cold War-era Russia, as well as the embellishment of legends compared to how events actually transpired.

Suffice to say, Kojima likes to inject multiple meanings into things, especially when we use a vague statement like “Homo Ludens” to do so. The “ludens” half of homo ludens refers to playing, so perhaps the name itself is telling us that he will be the playable character of Kojima’s next game. But beyond that, we can reach further and use contextual clues in the image to glean information about the nature of the game.

Like the studio’s logo portrays, inside of Ludens’ helmet is a skull. Without context this would lead us to believe the character is some sort of undead person, but there are other possibilities. We can clearly see blue LED lights shining from the skull in the full-body image. This could indicate the skull is merely a mask intended to shield Ludens’ identity. Either that, or the lights we see are emanating from inside the helmet and unrelated to the face.

Another element that supports the idea of a living, human Ludens is the rear pack that clearly echoes those used by astronauts in Moon landings. That pack contains a life support system, perhaps a supply of oxygen.

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Other than that, all we really know is that the suit Ludens wears is called the Extra-Vehicular Activity creative suit, or EVA. The most interesting part of that name is the “creative” bit, which evokes the feeling that the suit is meant for much more than traversal and protection from the elements. Kojima also describes his studio and game to have the “frontier spirit,” which also heavily evokes America’s desire to explore one of the last unexplored frontiers: space.

Kojima said that they’ll be ready to reveal more soon, and this surprise announcement is curiously timed with E3 coming up next month. It’s clearly still early in the game for the studio since its founding in January, but perhaps we’ll see an early announcement of the game’s title or nature during the show next month.

What do you think Ludens really means for the studio?


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