Video games are a throwaway culture. With every new console generation, five years or maybe a decade's worth of video games are moved away from and forgotten.
We have no cinemas, no galleries – the arcades are either dead, or stocked with only the most primo latest releases. It's not an earth-shattering observation, and games are neither uniquely or exceptionally controlled by corporate interest, but the market for games – at least, the biggest ones – survives from making people excited for what's coming and what they'll have to go out and buy, not what they've already paid for. A lot of games end up in the river.
P.T., by Konami, is one of them. Originally a "playable teaser" for the upcoming Silent Hill game, after the full project got cancelled, P.T. was withdrawn from PlayStation's digital store.
The game it was advertising was now never going to exist and so, in a painfully crystalline act of game industry avarice, P.T.'s publisher decided to have it destroyed.
Standalone, this was one of the best horror games ever made. But clearly Konami felt P.T. only had a purpose if it was out there drumming up enthusiasm for the publisher's next product.
It was a saddening precedent, indicative of gaming's worst characteristics. But I was heartened by a lot of the news stories and responses on Twitter, people decrying the publisher for its obtuseness and imploring people to download and keep the game for the sake of posterity. I still have it on my hard drive and there it will remain.
I likewise hope that, as a result of outcry against Konami, a lot of other people will be hanging on to P.T. It's been a rare week of active video game preservation, of both players and the press co-opting to save one of our culture's precious gems. It's a good thing to see. So why do I have this knot in my stomach?
Overwritten and sexist
P.T. has managed to calcify a kind of flash preservation movement. And it's a great game, one that I'm relieved will be saved. But it's also one that's co-directed by a developer who already receives too much credit and doesn't deserve to have his legacy further cemented.
I hope the effort to maintain P.T. is an effort to either maintain the game specifically or stick a boot into video gaming's general culture of throwing away. Conversely, I hope that it isn't tied to the announcement that Hideo Kojima is leaving Konami – I hope this isn't motivated by a need to save his work as opposed to this work, or video game work in general.
I understand games are lacking visible, credible auteur figures, and Kojima, insofar as making games that are – or at least were – distinctive is a more colourful figure than the faceless brands that represent most games. But he's rubbish. His scripts are indulgent, contrived garbage.
His sense of humour is base, to the point that there's a character in Metal Gear Solid who p**ses and craps himself while hiding in a barrel. And the sexism – my god, the sexism. There's a bit in Metal Gear Solid 1 where you find out which of the balaclava'ed guards is a woman by looking at her arse.
There's a bit in Metal Gear Solid 2 where the T-shirt of the boss you're fighting becomes transparent in the rain, and if you take a picture of her using the in-game camera and send it to your pal, he says he'll make a back up of it.
There's a bit in Metal Gear Solid 3 where you hold down one of the shoulder buttons during a cut scene to glare at a woman's cleavage. Later, you can move a 3D model of her around in the pause menu to make her breasts jiggle.
The defences, or explanations, I read for this kind of trash are usually along the lines of "that's Kojima's style" or "it's a Japanese thing", as if, simply because a fashion of game design is individual, either to a person or a culture, it's excusable – nay – applaudable.
But Kojima is the classic example of a director who believes his own press, a man who has bought into his own auteur image so completely that, according to people who have worked with him, he refuses to be edited. Metal Gear Solid has always been overwritten, dumb, sexist rubbish – its reputation, as well as Kojima's, is emblematic of just how wanting for genuine greatness video games are.
And as much as I'm glad that P.T. will survive, and heartened by people campaigning for video game preservation, I'm irked by the suspicion that it was Kojima's name, not the game's quality, that kept it alive.
Ed Smith writes about games, films and culture for IBTimes UK. He has also written for The Observer, Vice, New Statesman and Edge magazine. Find him on Twitter @mostsincerelyed