Remember the days when mascots had to look family friendly and huggable, with the intention to sell plush toys and other cutesy things using their likeliness? Hideo Kojima certainly doesn’t, as he unveiled Ludens, “the icon for Kojima Productions”. Ludens (or Ludence to some) is a fully rendered character based on the logo for Kojima Productions.
LUDENS, the icon of Kojima Productions. pic.twitter.com/brM16iFgNi
— HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) May 17, 2016
He’s certainly a very striking character; you’d definitely do a double take if you passed them in the street or saw them in a coffee shop. The question is: who is Ludens? The question that naturally follows that is: does it really matter? Knowing Kojima’s nature for being cryptic and deflecting his fan’s focus from his true intention, the answers won’t be straight forward. We can only assume that this is a hint from Kojima about his next game, but this assumption may well prove false knowing that Kojima can deflect expectations people have of his games, as he did with alluding to Snake being the protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2. So let’s put on our deer stalker caps; get our magnifying glasses out; and split up and look for clues. Wait, that’s always a terrible idea; let’s stick together and look for clues.
Anyone who’s visited Kojima’s website might recognize the name Ludens as half of the latin phrase Homo Ludens, meaning “men at play”, which appears a fair bit on the home page for Kojima Productions. In fact, the first words that we’re treated to after going to this website are “From Sapiens to Ludens.”
If you scroll further down, you’ll find a rather poetic ditty about how those who play, Homo Ludens, are also Homo Faber (men who create). What’s interesting is the paragraph that follows this; as it takes on a darker tone to set a scene in a distant, desolate future where we might find a way to bring back life to our world:
Even if the earth were stripped
of life and reduced to a barren wasteland, our imagination and desire
to create would survive – beyond survival,
it would provide hope that flowers may one day bloom again.
Through the invention of play, our new evolution awaits.
It’s a love note to art, particularly the art which allows to play, learn, and evolve: gaming. In a few words, it takes us to a future where our planet is “stripped of life and reduced to a barren wasteland.” Ol’ Ludens is looking pretty stripped of life themselves; we can deduce this from looking at his face, which is that of a skeleton. I haven’t seen too many skeletons that look full of life; then again, I’ve not seen too many skeletons in an EVA suit carrying a flag. Is Ludens a resident of the barren wasteland that is our planet in the future? He certainly looks dressed for the occasion, sporting a futuristic life suit.
Then again, perhaps Ludens is just a metaphor for the creative philosophy that Kojima expresses on his website, and a personification of the evolved being that Kojima believes is Homo Ludens. We see a lifeless skeleton protected by an EVA suit, shielded from the harsh climate that’s destroyed all other life. Is Ludens perhaps a self portrait of Kojima; expressing his vulnerabilility when he has his creative freedom taken away, like at the end of tenure with Konami, and how he shielded by ideas of the future? All we can see is that mascots, traditionally, need a flagship title to earn their stripes as a gaming mascot. Mario and Sonic weren’t just handed the right of mascot for Nintendo and Sega respectively. So we’ll wait and see where Ludens will pop up next- hopefully, not in our nightmares…
What do you think of Kojima Productions’ mascot? Do you think they’re a hint at Kojima’s next game? Let us know in the comments