What Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty Teaches Us About The Information Age"http://www.gamesetwatch.com...
Most of the major plot elements in MGS2 revolve around the Patriots: a clandestine organization whose goals involve global social, political, and economic control. To achieve this, the Patriots focus primarily on establishing control over the dissemination of information that occurs through digital channels. This falls in line with Kojima's dark projections of advanced technology (where powerful organizations utilize said tech for questionable means), as the Patriots seek to extend and maintain their power by controlling the very flow of knowledge in society. Consequently, MGS2's newly introduced Arsenal Gear isn't even a weapon but rather a massive mobile defense installation with the capability of controlling information across global digital channels. The methodology of the Patriots and their intent to use Arsenal Gear is explained by NPC Emma Emmerich, the leading developer of Arsenal Gear's GW computer system:
"In this day and age, information emerges from every direction, and is freely distributed. In fact, the speed of this circulation process is accelerating on an almost daily basis. [...] Political scandal, corporate corruption; up until now, the Patriots have managed to keep a lid on these and other self-serving events. But with their existing data processing system, they are no longer able to effectively control the flow of information generated at the individual level. With the newly created system, they can fully regulate digital information. High-level information can be categorized in stages, given clearance levels, and deleted as necessary -- never to be seen by the public. By deleting such information, the Patriots can shape the course of history as they see fit."
This echoes a similar concern over knowledge and information championed by postmodern theorist Jean Francois Lyotard in The Postmodern Condition. Along with commenting on the changing state of knowledge in advanced information societies, Lyotard asserts:
"Knowledge will be a major component in the world-wide competitions for power and it is conceivable that nation-states will one day fight for control of information just as they battled for control over territories in the past. [...] Knowledge and power are simply two sides of the same question: who decides what knowledge is, and who knows what needs to be decided? In the computer age, the question of knowledge is now more than ever a question of government."
Lyotard's work reveals that controlling the flow of information in order to shape history is a byproduct of our current postmodern Information Age. MGS2 not only takes this idea to heart, but runs with it full speed and lends itself favorably to Richard Dawkins' theory of memetics. Originally published in 1987, Dawkins' The Selfish Gene introduces the idea of memetics as a method of measuring the cultural evolution of ideas:
"Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist hears, or reads about, a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and his lectures. If the idea catches on, it can be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain."
The theory of memetics shows how creating a mode of natural selection for memes in the sea of uncontrolled digital information via Arsenal Gear would allow the Patriots to shape public discourse by easily replacing radical or opposing ideas with those that the group finds more convenient for maintaining their power.
This rampant focus on memetics and information control brings up an interesting issue: how the MGS series, like all forms of cultural expression, is itself memetic. After all, players can play the game, think about its themes, speak to fellow gamers about the content in the game, post and discuss on internet forums, and pass copies of the game on to others.
The series, which has already been experienced by tens of millions of gamers worldwide, has itself become a strong and thriving source of memes. It's no surprise that Kojima himself would eventually brand the MGS abbreviation as Meme-Gene-Scene to coincide with the main theme behind each MGS game, with MGS2 appropriately assigned the Meme designation