I gave up console gaming nearly 5 years ago, right around the time the PlayStation 3 came out. There were many reasons why; I won’t elaborate here. But, this break also meant that I missed Metal Gear Solid 4, the next entry in one of my favorite video game franchises. This week, I decided to check out YouTube for any walkthroughs of the game, so I could see what I had missed. (If you are curious, I suggest tetraninja’s channel here.)
As I watched the 11 hours of game play, I was struck with one of the character’s headquarters: a chapel that had been converted into a library. (You can see it in the video from 00:00 to 2:18.)
Now, I wasn’t just fascinated because I love books. (OMGBOOOOOOOKS!) And the idea of a library inside a church for a character named EVA was more than just clever. The library chapel is a sort of greatest hits of Euro-centric feminist symbols. Bookshelves are placed where stained glass windows would normally be and pews double as desks—both creating a notable fusion of Protestant work ethic and Catholic aesthetic. The statue of Mary and EVA’s following explanation are both a feminine perspectives in male-oriented institutions (religion and war respectively). And the room is an actual sanctuary, where knowledge is worshiped and study is encouraged.
To me, this room is a highlight because I really didn’t like EVA as a character when she first appeared in the MGS series in the last game. A pretty girl with T&A and a gun does not necessarily make a “strong female character.” But the library chapel was a sign that there was something more substantial to her, that someone had thought about what would be important in EVA’s place of operations: knowledge, security, reverence. She’s not just an action figure–she has books which (hopefully) means she has brains.
I don’t want to place too much stock in what MGS‘s development team meant with the library chapel. I have to remind myself that these are the same writers who show their characters’ “humanity” by undercutting dramatic moments with the kind of jokes 14-year boys find hilarious. EVA’s eventual death in the game is emotional. . . until her boobs are given prominent focus as she breathes her last. But I have to give the devs credit for turning my opinion & giving me a few moments of imagining what thoughts she would have scribbled in the margins of her books. And also for giving me an image of book heaven to dream about.