Only a few days ago, Reddit noticed a secret message at the start of the at best luke-warmly received Metal Gear Survive. If you put together the first letter of all the last names of a list of soldiers (stay with me) it spells out KJP FOREVER, allegedly revealing that some staff at Konami are still secretly fans of the New England clothing brand or, possibly, Kojima Productions. This has prompted me to realise that treating Kojima leaving Konami as a long-standing employee leaving a company after many years is in fact the wrong perspective; it should in fact be treated like a catastrophically bad break up. The way it progressed has a familiar and tragic trajectory.
1. Your partner begins to tire of the routine
Many relationships have times where the members of it just aren't syncing up properly. The wavelengths are a bit off. One of you wants to go out more this month and the other would prefer staying in. That kind of thing. In this case, Konami would have been happy for Kojima to churn out new Metal Gear games for the rest of his natural life (whilst also possibly investing in technology that would extend Kojima's natural life and/or preserve him as some kind of auto-game dev computer programme). Konami wanted to keep going back to that Italian restaurant they'd been going to since the 80s. The menu hasn't been updated much since then and the interior is all checkered plasticated tablecloths (and there's bunches of dried herbs hanging over the bar that're all dusty 'cos nobody knows how to clean them without them disintegrating); it's comforting, though, isn't it? The waiter knows your name and you know you'll have a nice time.
Meanwhile Kojima, your classic creative drama student type, seemed to be concerned that his talent was stagnating. He wanted a fresh, new challenge by rebooting Silent Hill (a series that debuted in 1999). He wanted burgers! Fish! Coq au vin! He was tired of arrabiata! So when Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was announced in 2013, Kojima also said it would be his last Metal Gear game, super seriously for real. In relationships, you often have to compromise.
2. You say you're cool with them seeing other people.
In this case Kojima, who had been name-dropping Silent Hill a lot, got to start work on a Silent Hill game called Silent Hills in around 2012, like when your partner says their hands are really dry in this cold weather, they really could do with a new pair of gloves, wow look at these cashmere gloves online honey? Except that wasn't enough. Kojima wanted to expand his horizons and work with exciting creatives from outside games. The kind of creatives that spend years making sure a fish monster has a sexy butt. And Konami was like, "Sure, you can see other people! We're totally fine with it! M.. maybe we'll see other people too! We've still got Cristiano Ronaldo's number, you know!"
3. You're not cool with it
P.T. appeared on PlayStation in August 2014 and it was discovered to be a kind of proof of concept for Silent Hills, a game made by Kojima and majestic horror-fucker Guillermo del Toro, in association with motion-captured Norman Reedus. And people loved it. They loved it so hard. Like, wow, it's so cool and modern of you to let Kojima see other people, and, honestly, they look so good together! If I were you I don't know if I could get over the jealousy! And it turned out Konami wasn't okay with it.
We don't know who started the argument, but by March 2015 there were rumours that Kojima and a few higher up members of his team were ready to walk from Konami (straight into the arms of del Toro and the rest of the Kojima Best Friend Squad, which we were to later discover included both Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen, because Kojima apparently has a type).
At this point Konami began to go Full Scorched Earth Breakup, having already removed Kojima's name from the promo materials for Metal Gear Solid V like a girl who's had a whole bottle of gin to herself and starts burning pictures of him in a bin in her bedroom, then cancelled Silent Hills and removed P.T. from PSN in April 2015.
4. Your joint flat lease isn't up for another two months and you're just telling everyone everything is fine
In what is possibly the most tragicomic part of the whole thing, after a report that Kojima had indeed left, Konami kept telling people that everything was fine and Kojima had just gone on holiday, which is what someone would say if their boyfriend had gone to Magaluf with his best friend's family and had always had a crush on his best friend's sister, but wasn't ready to admit the relationship was over (couldn't take me along 'cos I don't know them that well and it would be weird! It's fine, he's just on holiday!). Yeah, Konami, everything's fine. Everyone has a party thrown for them when they go on holiday. It doesn't mean he's leaving you.
5. They moved on faster than you and seem really happy and that's the worst thing ever
In December 2015 Kojima announced the existence of Kojima Productions as an independent entity, working on a new game with Sony that was revealed at E3 2016 as Death Stranding. Guillermo del Toro tweeted FUCK KONAMI. Guerilla Games is sharing its game engine. Yas, Koj, fuck me up, etc. Kojima started a fun YouTube channel. He's Tweeting pictures of food and travel. He's liberated. He's blossoming. Oh God, what have you done?
6. You're putting on a brave face but secretly it still hurts
It's 2018. Konami should be over it, but isn't. The company still has Metal Gear but it will never not be associated with Kojima, as well as the painfully public break up ('Is this yours?' 'I thought it was ours.') and, meanwhile, Mads, Guillermo and Norman have been joined by Emily O'Brien and Troy Baker. The Death Stranding star continues to rise. There is excitement at every frame of the footage so far.
You're happy for them. You are. No you are. But you used to make each other happy. You can still go back to that Italian restaurant. It's not his restaurant. You're allowed to go there with other people. There's not a law against it. And yet, unbidden, you find you've carved KJP FOREVER under the table you used to sit at. A secret cry from the heart.