Examining P.T. [Silent Hills]: Plot Analysis, Gender Identity, and Media Hysteria

Oct 25, 2017
8,036
Finale, you should link some of your other analyses you've posted on ERA. I bet some of the others here would enjoy them. You put a lot of heart into your written works, and always reveal new layers to appreciate.
 
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Finale Fireworker

Finale Fireworker

Love each other or die trying.
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Oct 25, 2017
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Hey, I just want to let you know how much I appreciate your work on this incredible analysis. I'm adding this to my little collection of game analysis and critical writing.

It seriously means a lot whenever I see people writing this way about games. It not only makes the medium and our enjoyment of it better, but it makes this specific place, ReseEra, a much greater and valuable game community.

Please keep up the great work.
Thank you so much. This is extremely high praise and better than anything I could have hoped to hear. I talk about video games like this because I have a deep love for the medium and think its artistic accomplishments are often downplayed and undersung. My original motivation for making threads like these, way back in 2015, was to spur intelligent and academic conversation about video games where that kind of conversation might not exist. Now I mostly do it because I enjoy it, but to know some of my original intention is reaching people is so reassuring.

Amazing thread, Finale. Well done.

Even though I would have preferred seeing Imamura, Tsuboyama, and Owaka back to ‘resurrect’ Silent Hill, Kojima & Del Toro had me fascinated. Success or failure, at least SH was going to have some true auteurs behind it again and a budget that wasn’t pure ‘bargain-basement’ crap.
Silent Hill is one of those series that had way more potential than it ever got a chance to live up to. Maybe people like me wanted the series to be something different than it was, or maybe the people making the series had different ideas for what made the games good, but the fact we'll probably never see the series on the level of Silent Hill 2 again is just sad. I know somebody could always make a new series but it's tough to know this series holds so much unrealized potential.

It's one of those things that a new IP will never fully capture.

Damn good thread Finale.

It's a shame that the dream collaboration of Kojima, Del Toro and Junji Ito doing a new Silent Hill never got to be more than that, a dream.

One thing that might have been already mentioned somewhere: Kojima, being such a huge film buff, possibly took some light inspiration from the 1976 movie "God Told Me To", specifically
the way that the father tells his daughter that it was just a game to make her get out of the bathroom and the references to an extraterrestrial presence
That's really cool, I never knew that. Seeing how other media influenced somethings helps give you a glimpse into the creative process. Authorial intent is unknowable but that makes clues like this really cool. Thank you for bringing it up!

Finale, you should link some of your other analyses you've posted on ERA. I bet some of the others here would enjoy them. You put a lot of heart into your written works, and always reveal new layers to appreciate.
I've actually started linking them in my Bio. I have one other repost ("remastered thread") planned from 2015 that I'm going to post on Era but it needs some work still. Moving forward, hopefully the new title format will be less off-putting to passerbys.

 

Asbsand

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Oct 30, 2017
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The consequences of a restrictive patriarchy are unilateral. It requires both men and women to uphold and adhere to designated values as to maintain a controlled hierarchy.


Under this system, men are instructed to be competitive in all facets of their lives and opt for individual success at the expense of interpersonal relationships. Boys are taught to control or suppress their feelings and cannot learn how to coherently express themselves. Men must defend and protect their masculinity by rejecting activities, ideas, and constructs that do not comply with their given masculine ruleset. This causes them to idolize and reward examples of their own behavior and detest, undermine, and resent behavior that deviates from that expectation.


This has brutal implications for women, who must exist alongside (or more accurately, beneath) the male-dictated social structure. Because masculinity is so narrowly defined, anything that deviates from masculine norms is relegated into its feminine antithesis.
I think these assessments are all cleverly made and well put and well extracted from what was in the game, but to be honest, the impression I got was more that Kojima thought about a situation in which violence would break out in a normal life, and so he took these things. Remember this is done by the same guy who thought we'd be a ashamed of our words and deeds by not seeing his masterful vision behind Quiet; a blatantly sexualized character whose sympathetic backstory of stupid was supposed to justify having her wear almost nothing while performing military actions. I don't think the artistic intent was to make you see P.T. as a game with a message on this subject matter, it was just a means to an end for Kojima to set the tone for a horror story and mask his upcoming product Silent Hills.

Like... he's not aware of this outview on social norms I don't think, he just looked at how the norms are and created the plot from it.
 
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Finale Fireworker

Finale Fireworker

Love each other or die trying.
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Oct 25, 2017
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I think these assessments are all cleverly made and well put and well extracted from what was in the game, but to be honest, the impression I got was more that Kojima thought about a situation in which violence would break out in a normal life, and so he took these things.

[...]
I get that. I don’t even disagree - Kojima’s modern output doesn’t really correlate with the narrative presented in P.T. and I have a lot of personal apprehension about Death Stranding. We’ve talked about it a little already, but where I really stand is here:

1) Kojima has told stories and explored concepts relating to fatherhood, conditioning, and contextual duty in the first three Metal Gear Solid games (and to a lesser extent Metal Gear 1+2, which are still thematically impressive for the standard of storytelling of the 8-16 bit era). Whether these ideas were prioritized by Kojima or Tomokazu Fukushima (who left after MGS3) isn’t clear, but they’ve been present enough in the past that their reappearance would not be unusual.

2) I think a Kojima vision moderated by a Del Toro vision would have turned out better than something like MGSV. Del Toro is brought in a lot as a creative consultant for all kinds of work because his influence and suggestions are highly respected. I don’t think Del Toro’s contributions would have been marginal in any sense. If we assume they both went into the project with equal control, I think it would have been very different from any singularly developed Kojima game in the past.

3) Authorial intention isn’t really meaningful with a final product as open to interpretation as P.T. - it’s not something we can ever know. All we can do is interpret the text we have and use what information presented to come to some sort of conclusion. Even if this isn’t what Kojima & Co set out to make, it’s still easily interpreted as such, meaning it’s what they’ve made. The work stands on its own, you know?​

But I completely understand where you’re coming from. I agree with your skepticism. I’ve said before that part of the reason P.T. shines so enduringly is because it never had a chance to be ruined with a follow-up. Silent Hill, as a series, wishes it could be that lucky.
 

Asbsand

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Oct 30, 2017
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But I completely understand where you’re coming from. I agree with your skepticism. I’ve said before that part of the reason P.T. shines so enduringly is because it never had a chance to be ruined with a follow-up. Silent Hill, as a series, wishes it could be that lucky.
We also don't know anything particular behind its development really. It lists the names of a bunch of leads that worked on it including Kojima and Del Toro, but we actually don't know if any ghost writer worked on this one, like Shuyo Murata or whoever worked on past MGS titles, or maybe even Del Toro. There's the off-chance that a lot of these ideas you mentioned in your OP are actually intended to be thought of to this level of deconstruction, and also the chance that Kojima was in a bliss, because like all writers not all of hits writing has hit home but from the track-record it's true, he does have it in him sometimes.
 
Oct 27, 2017
764
On the topic of women in Kojima's games, didn't Strangelove in MGSV create the AI's the became The Patriots? Or am I misremembering?

Anyway. excellent thread Finale Fireworker. PT is one of my favorite things in fiction ever. It got me into David Lynch, for wich I have to mention the obvious comparisons there are with PT and Lynch's work (aside from the sense of dread from both works).

And that's the fetus which is very, very similar to Lynch's baby in Eraserhead:



Interestingly enough, thematically, the baby serves as a representation of the main character's fears of not being able to achieve his rather mundane dreams, and is eventually what leads him to (apparently) die in a pretty surreal way:



Considering how much into surrealism and magic realism I am, and how Kojima going weird all the way in Death Stranding, I'm pretty stoked. I hope that afterwards, Kojima and Del Toro work on a horror game. Hope that you see some of Lynch's movies, Fireworker! I'm sure you'd like them.
Just wait until Kojima finishes watching The Return. He already saw the first episode and loved it. Who knows what crazy ideas he'll come up with
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,086
That demo changed how I preceive horror movies and horror games.

PT changed the genre aswell, the game had so much potential .. I am legit sad that it was cancelled, even more sad that I am not able to replay PT.. and so many friends of mine never got to play it.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,104
Vice City
damn...excellent writeup.

you're spot-on about PT's influence - we already saw that breathe new life into RE7 - but i'd not given much thought to the core concepts 2 shared with this game (1 as well, and 3 as an extension of the decisions & failures of 1's protagonist, at that), much less why they'd be so very interesting to kojima & del toro.

i cannot stress enough just how much of a loss us not getting this game is - that team, revitalizing/stepping up this dead franchise, with junji ito's input as well? my god, that could've been such a perfect storm.

blew my mind how many gaming dreams came true in 2015 (shenmue 3, last guardian, FF VII remake etc) but i'd trade so many games to have seen this through, all the more so for your observations here.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,207
Love when people dig into the deeper meaning of games , I only briefly played the game and just assumed it was your usual ghost story horror game .

I am not familiar with the silent hill games , never underestimate Kojima and his crazy ideas . So sad it got cancelled , based on this small teaser the final game would have been amazing .

Someone should tweet this to Kojima, would love if he could validate his themes .
 
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Oct 25, 2017
8,036
Yeah, I'd love them to make a spiritual sequel to PT.

They don't need the Silent Hill branding — heck, it might be creatively liberating to not be bound by that IP's conventions.

I just think there's real potential here for a psychological thriller where the gameplay hook is the AI director noting what you observe and don't observe, allowing the game to piecemeal out the story.
 
Oct 27, 2017
27
Great analysis, I really enjoyed reading it!

Hopefully they get to take another stab (likely as a new IP) at the themes and atmosphere they were trying to create with PT.
 
Oct 25, 2017
10,045
Yknow

Something talked about in this thread, and brought up by Finale, is the overarching theme in the MGS games-That is a patriarchy through both Big Boss and Solidus, about being shaped by a person who you don't necessarily care for, about who you are and what you are to be, and overcoming it and being your own person. That despite all that, you don't have to follow in that persons footsteps. I've talked about it in the past, but my father is a deadbeat alcoholic. An asshole of the highest regard. And to me, MGS was a game that taught me how to escape that, that you shouldn't be tied to something because it's 'blood ties' or because that person raised you. I effectively don't care for that man, and my family is always baffled that I don't. And I think that's ok, that I don't care for that person because of the pain they caused me and my family.

Say what you will about Kojima, but the themes he has put in his games, are head above many other games. No other games tackle what he has, and to me, growing up a kid who cared a bit too much about games, it really helped me understand my position in life and my ability to choose.
 
Oct 28, 2017
219
Florida
Great write-up OP

Do you have any thoughts as to why the radio repeats that after killing his family, he hangs himself in garage but the 2nd time it says he hangs himself with an unbillical cord instead of hose?
 
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Finale Fireworker

Finale Fireworker

Love each other or die trying.
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Oct 25, 2017
4,446
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Yknow

Something talked about in this thread, and brought up by Finale, is the overarching theme in the MGS games-That is a patriarchy through both Big Boss and Solidus, about being shaped by a person who you don't necessarily care for, about who you are and what you are to be, and overcoming it and being your own person. That despite all that, you don't have to follow in that persons footsteps. I've talked about it in the past, but my father is a deadbeat alcoholic. An asshole of the highest regard. And to me, MGS was a game that taught me how to escape that, that you shouldn't be tied to something because it's 'blood ties' or because that person raised you. I effectively don't care for that man, and my family is always baffled that I don't. And I think that's ok, that I don't care for that person because of the pain they caused me and my family.

Say what you will about Kojima, but the themes he has put in his games, are head above many other games. No other games tackle what he has, and to me, growing up a kid who cared a bit too much about games, it really helped me understand my position in life and my ability to choose.
I relate exactly to what you're saying. My father was also an extremely negative influence on my life. He and I haven't spoken in over a year now.

I get a lot of pressure from other members of my family to value our theoretical relationship of father and son over our actual lifelong experience. It took me a long time to realize I didn't need to do that. My father was my only male role model growing up, and his influence was extremely negative, so his example of how to live was always more of a warning shot than an illuminated path.

Sometimes it weighs on me because I am past the age my father was when he had me: his first and only son. I wonder what my father was thinking when he was my age, and how he perceived me, and I think about how that perception changed as we both got older and it became clear I wasn't growing up the way he expected.

Movies like The Iron Giant did a lot to shape my image of fatherhood and masculinity. I can see why Metal Gear Solid reached you the way it did. Lessons from fiction sometimes get right to the heart of our problems because our guard is lower. It's not real, it's just a story, so you're not as defensive to something it's trying to teach you. By the time it hits you on an emotional level, you might not even know why, you just know it meant something to you.

Great write-up OP

Do you have any thoughts as to why the radio repeats that after killing his family, he hangs himself in garage but the 2nd time it says he hangs himself with an unbillical cord instead of hose?
I'm not really sure about this part other than the connection between being killed and being born. It could be that the man's suicide initiates his rebirth into Silent Hill, or maybe it creates some sort of doppelganger (connecting to the line the paper bag speaks: "The only me is me, are you sure the only you is you?"). It's definitely some creepy dialog and you can interpret it symbolically but I admit I've never really rationalized anything conclusive about this line.

All I can really say is that it connects the man's death to birth. Whatever it might mean beyond that is a mystery to me too.
 
Oct 29, 2017
1,368
Wollongong
Well it took me more than a week, but I finally finished your analysis and all I have to say is great work! I think you hit the nail on the head re: themes and did a great job extrapolating the elements of the game and contextualising them.

Can't wait for your next thread :)
 
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Finale Fireworker

Finale Fireworker

Love each other or die trying.
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Oct 25, 2017
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Well it took me more than a week, but I finally finished your analysis and all I have to say is great work! I think you hit the nail on the head re: themes and did a great job extrapolating the elements of the game and contextualising them.

Can't wait for your next thread :)
Thank you, Overflow. I really appreciate that people are still coming back to read the thread after several weeks. I’m glad you liked it!
 
Oct 26, 2017
6,891
Sorry to bump this but I dunno if this was worth it's own thread and though this one would be more appropiated for it. It's just about a small thing just found that probably never knew till now that I found pretty cool.


wonder what else can be found now that it's being datamined.
 
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Finale Fireworker

Finale Fireworker

Love each other or die trying.
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Oct 25, 2017
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Sorry to bump this but I dunno if this was worth it's own thread and though this one would be more appropiated for it. It's just about a small thing just found that probably never knew till now that I found pretty cool.


wonder what else can be found now that it's being datamined.
That's really cool. I love that the game is still yielding little secrets despite its size and age. Considering this is all we'll get, every tiny new detail is nourishing to me.
 
Oct 30, 2017
4,000
Sorry to bump this but I dunno if this was worth it's own thread and though this one would be more appropiated for it. It's just about a small thing just found that probably never knew till now that I found pretty cool.


wonder what else can be found now that it's being datamined.
Amazing.

... Dang it, Konami.
 
Oct 30, 2017
3,527
California
Sorry to bump this but I dunno if this was worth it's own thread and though this one would be more appropiated for it. It's just about a small thing just found that probably never knew till now that I found pretty cool.


wonder what else can be found now that it's being datamined.
I fucking knew I saw something. I've played it so many times through and through and notice something almost every single time. Changing flashlight colors, dying before the picture section, Lisa following you into the bathroom, Lisa looking at you from the top floor, Lisa outside the window by the phone, Lisa at the bottom of the staircase, Lisa at the corner of the hallway, all of it is just insane. I wonder how much more is there in code that we haven't encountered.
 
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Finale Fireworker

Finale Fireworker

Love each other or die trying.
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
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Finale Fireworker, have you done more analysis like this recently? I loved this one and the one on TLOU.
These are the only other ones I've posted on Era. I haven't had the time to make a new thread like this since I became a mod, unfortunately. I've been thinking of remaking the Last of Us one though because UC4 has a giraffe in it too in a very specific place and I thought the thread could use an update.

The narrative purity of Luigi's Mansion and telling stories with mechanics
Metal Gear Solid 1 and immersing a player through torture


Honestly, knowing somebody remembers the Last of Us thread motivates me to update it and post it here. I may do that.