Sunday, June 19, 2011
Learning Social Skills with Solid Snake
Metal Gear Solid is infamous for its many repeated quirks, including rampant fourth wall breakage, high proportions of cutscenes, rampant homo-eroticism, and coaxing tears out of even the most masculine gamers' eyes. One of the most prominent quirks is protagonist Solid Snake's tendency to echo whatever is being said to him, repeating the most significant proper noun of the previous statement as a question. The most obvious example occurs whenever the titular Metal Gear robot is mentioned, in which Snake will say, "Metal Gear?!"
This can be annoying, but it's also a valuable conversation-maintenance tactic that can be applied to real life. By repeating the subject of the other person's conversation, Snake demonstrates that he was listening to what they were saying. He also fills in what otherwise would have been an awkward pause had he not spoken up. And by phrasing it as a question, he shows to the other person that he's interested in what they're saying and wants to hear more. Since almost everybody likes to be asked questions, they won't scrutinize the fact that Snake isn't contributing much to the conversation himself (unless he's making some poetic speech about the battlefield, in which case you listen because it's Snake).
Snake is not only a master of CQC, but he demonstrates with elegant simplicity an uncanny understanding of the dynamics of conversation.