Hideo Kojima‘s Metal Gear Solid franchise is known for many things. It was the first series to center its gameplay around stealth, rather than combat, and features one of the most ludicrously convoluted stories we’ve ever encountered. Even so, MGS is perhaps best known for its huge cast of colorful characters, several of which are confirmed to be members of the LGBT community. What makes this remarkable is how the series handles sexuality, not restricting a character’s personality to reflect sexual stereotypes. Mix this with Kojima’s tendency to write some of the coolest, most original villains in gaming, and the results are rather ‘shocking’ (you’ll hate us for that pun later).
The first character in the series to be confirmed bisexual is Vamp from Metal Gear Solid 2. His debut sees him annihilating SEAL Team 10‘s Alpha Team near the beginning of Raiden’s mission, before setting his sights on the main character. His dance-like combat style and mysterious nature helped him stand out, even when surrounded by some of the game’s more over-the-top villains. He’s shown to be incredibly close to his leader Fortune, who he refers to as his queen, though we initially don’t know any history between them.
We learn about Vamp’s sexuality through an optional codec call with Snake later in the game. He reveals that Vamp earned his nickname, not because he feeds on the blood of his victims, which we’ve already seen him do, but because he’s bisexual (which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s Hideo Kojima at the helm). According to rumor, Vamp was having an affair with Commandant Scott Dolph, Fortune’s father, who was killed two years ago at the start of the game. If this is true, it would explain why Vamp feels the need to care for Fortune,, having a bond with her that goes beyond romance or friendship. This is a good example of how Kojima reveals small pieces of a character’s backstory and lets players fill in the rest. It adds a bit more depth to Vamp’s character and allows us to understand his and Fortune’s motives a bit more.
Metal Gear Solid 3‘s main villain is another interesting example. Colonel Volgin is introduced near the beginning of the title as one of the most ruthless, sadistic individuals in the entire Soviet army. He enjoys torturing his victims with his physics-defying lightning abilities (it’s Kojima, just roll with it), and makes heavy sexual advances towards a few female characters.
Later in his mission, Naked Snake (not the same character as before), must knock out and impersonate a Soviet officer by the name of Raikov, an obvious parody of MGS2′s main character. Volgin realizes something’s up and grabs Snake’s crotch, saying that he “knows the major better than anyone”. Fans speculated as to what this meant for years before the official Metal Gear database confirmed that the two were lovers. This wasn’t just thrown in for a laugh, though, as Volgin later tortures Snake to make him pay for what he did to Raikov. This is the first time we see Volgin actually care about somebody in any capacity, and it serves to round out his character quite a bit. Thankfully, the revelation of his sexuality doesn’t detract from his cruel, menacing nature, nor is it used as a cheap joke. For as absurd as Snake Eater‘s villains can be, Volgin’s sexuality is handled in a surprisingly realistic way.
Beyond this, the Metal Gear Solid franchise is loaded with other LGBT or sexually ambiguous characters. Even those who are often identified as heterosexual have leaned across the sexual spectrum from time to time. Even so, Kojima has never made this a selling point for his games, nor has he given the topic of sexuality any direct attention, instead crafting a world that offers more sexually diverse characters than seen in games by developers that have made it their mission statement to include the LGBT community.