Fantastical Tactical Operations

the skulls female parasite unit

Episode 70 of the Kojima Frequency.

There’s a great conversation in this episode on the fantastical elements of the Metal Gear series.

I first got into Metal Gear because my upstairs neighbor had the game on the original NES and introduced it to me. I didn’t have an NES yet. The game seemed very “military.” My upstairs neighbor was a cop which somehow made the game seem more legit.

In the game, my job was to infiltrate this base, avoid detection, and use all kinds of special equipment.

The game was difficult and the plot was simple.

I fell in love with it instantly.

I was young, and I liked it because it felt somehow, realistic.

If there were fantastical elements of the original games, they never made an impression on me when I was young. It seemed to be a straight-laced military game.

❗️

Years later, when Metal Gear Solid was announced for the Playstation, I felt excited and validated. Most of my friends at the time didn’t know about the earlier games. They thought this was something new. I felt like an insider because I had played the original.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but from the early videos and articles I read in gaming magazines, I figured I’d be getting some kind of military infiltration simulation.

Something like the earlier games.

And that’s what I got.

Until the fight with Psycho Mantis.

Then, the game started getting weird.

I remember playing through the torture scene with Ocelot. My friend got up to get his turbo controller to help. And as if on cue, this happened.

I didn’t quite know what to make of it. I didn’t understand it.

The further I went into the game, the weirder it got.

I didn’t know why, but I liked it.

When Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was released, I was already in the Army. I bought the game on release day and played through the tanker mission. But then work got in the way and I never finished it.

More years passed, and a friend sent me a copy of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater for my birthday when it came out, but it stayed in the shrinkwrap.

Too busy.

It’s only after MGSV came out that I returned to the series, and I’m better for it.

What I find fascinating about the series today is the way that everyone seems to have a personal relationship with it, but each is different.


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Psychoacoustics

young mantis helicopter metal gear solid v

What’s one thing that has an outsize effect on influence and emotion but doesn’t get the respect it deserves, especially in the security space?

Music.

Fascinating episode of the Cognitive Crucible:

During this episode, US Army Sergeant Major Denver Dill discusses how music and the arts can be used as tools of influence. Our wide ranging conversation covers the role of music in military operations to the theme park experience to movies to sports.

#91 DENVER DILL ON THE ARTS AND MUSIC, Cognitive Crucible Podcast

We know that effective propaganda goes after emotions, not logic. Now think of any movie you’ve watched and the way that you can be compelled to feel a certain way with the right sound or chord.

Combine music with moving images and now you have a powerful tool for influence.

Don’t believe me?

In the episode, they discuss the role music can play in influence, especially on the active battlefield. As an example, they mention the use of bagpipes as a tool of intimidation. The ominous and unsettling sound of bagpipes was used to confuse and strike fear in enemy troops.

More examples where you can see music at work – in this case, to increase anxiety – are the films of Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, Inception). Here is a good write-up about the “Shepard tone” which is deployed effectively in those films.

Shepard tone, huh?

Anxiety attack at the ~:22 mark.

This is an area that needs a lot more research.

What other ways can sound and music be applied to the modern battlefield?


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