The Game Awards 2016, which airs on December 1, is already announcing that Hideo Kojima will be this year’s recipient of the prestigious Industry Icon Award.
The Game Awards, going all the way back to the event’s Spike TV precursor, has been a celebration of gaming culture as much as it is an awards show. Filled with game announcements, celebrity cameos, and prominently featuring the biggest AAA releases of the year, there is one moment of lucidity in the fanfare – the Industry Icon Award. Celebrating the contributions of creators within the industry, this year’s Icon Award recipient has been announced early, and it’s none other than Hideo Kojima.
Hideo Kojima’s contributions to the industry should be self-evident. The man has been involved in every Metal Gear title since the franchise’s inception in 1987, as producer for every Metal Gear game since 1998, and as director and writer of every main-series Metal Gear Solid title. Add in the Snatcher and Policenauts games, as well as the Zone of the Enders and Boktai franchises for good measure.
That Kojima is earning the 2016 Icon Award holds more meaning than perhaps it would otherwise, however. In 2015 Kojima was blocked from attending The Game Awards 2015 by Konami, who still had him under contract for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Kojima would eventually leave Konami fully and to call the ordeal controversial would be a vast understatement. Kojima returning to The Game Awards, where the year prior his Konami controversy came to a head, will be a statement. Or at least great advertising for Kojima’s next game, Death Stranding.
The Game Awards 2016 giving its Icon Award in such a political manner, in what perhaps could just be the middle of Kojima’s career, is a shift from previous years. In 2014 The Game Awards gave its Icon Award to King’s Quest developers Roberta and Ken Williams. In 2015 the award was given to Brett Sperry and Louis Castle, founders of Westwood and creators of Command & Conquer. While both pairs are still involved with game development, their “Iconic” eras of development are likely behind them.
There is a bit of oddity to the reveal, as well. It revolves around Geoff Keighley’s relationship and friendship with Hideo Kojima. While the controversy around Kojima and Konami was well known prior to The Game Awards 2015, it was Keighley who revealed that Kojima was barred from attending. Keighley, who runs virtually every aspect of The Game Awards, then granting the Icon Award just a year later is likely to prove another chapter in an event many long thought in the past. Few if any will argue whether Kojima is deserving of the award, but tying it back into the controversy is perhaps an unnecessary footnote on Kojima’s impressive legacy.
The Game Awards 2016 will air on December 1. Hideo Kojima is currently working on a game titled Death Stranding, which has no release date and is likely very far off. Perhaps Kojima will be willing to share another look at Death Stranding, though.