Sidenote before you read ahead. This essay is a modified version of a video I produced for a class. If you’d prefer to watch the video, you can find it here.

I recently beat Death Stranding and I must say that what Hideo Kojima has created is art. The game so cleverly shows the importance of positive human connections and actively encourages players to become better people.

Regardless of whether you like the game or not, we should always celebrate when someone takes a risk and tells a story with a deeper meaning, especially when that meaning is about something as important as relearning how to be kind to others.

Roads too expensive for a single player would still be built by the many who contributed. Players leave useful items, vehicles, and structures for other players to use. I often found myself leaving warning signs or structures for any players who would come after me.

It expertly shows what happens when we cooperate, and what we have the potential to achieve if we weren’t so hostile to each other.

Why Use A Game?

Games are such a perfect way to address serious problems and convey deep messages, and I truly hope more game developers utilize the interactive aspect of games like Kojima has.

After spending dozens of hours in the game you will come back to reality in the end. When you do, I want you to use what you learned in the game. Connecting is one of those things.

Hideo Kojima

Death Stranding sends an important message about the importance of positive human connections.

The attacks and violence seen online these days are out of control. So I designed this for people to take a step back and by connecting, relearn how to be kind to others. I don’t think anyone in the world is opposed to that.

Hideo Kojima

Because of the interactive nature of games, they can shape the player’s behavior, even outside of the game. If a player is rewarded for helping others in-game, they will eventually be encouraged to help others in the real world.

There are very few other creative mediums I can think of that are interactive. You are just an observer in most other mediums. When you’re watching Star Wars, you’re not blowing up the Death Star, Luke Skywalker is.

However, video games provide an opportunity to place the player in the driver’s seat. Sure, the character Luke Skywalker is blowing up the Death Star, but now you ARE Luke Skywalker.

How Kojima Achieves This

The way Kojima achieves this is rather interesting. The only way to communicate with other players is through positive “likes” or helpful structures. There isn’t any way to send negative messages.

I’m very prone to loneliness. I think there are similar people around the world, especially gamers. Even though they’re having fun with others outside, when they’re alone playing video games in their living room they don’t feel like they fit into society or their community. So when those people play this game, they realize people like them exist all over the world. Knowing that even though I’m lonely, there are other people like me makes you feel at ease.

Hideo Kojima

When a game is designed with a specific goal in mind, every little decision goes to achieving that goal. Small things that the average player won’t even think about end up having a huge impact on their experience.

Since players can only help each other, there isn’t any point where players get frustrated with each other. Even if you can’t see other players, you know they are out there, setting up structures or helpful equipment. It makes you want to play it forward and leave structures and equipment behind for other players to use.

Playing For Others

The beauty found in Death Stranding can’t be seen when someone is playing for their own personal satisfaction. Instead, only when the player starts playing for the benefit of others does Kojima’s master plan reveal itself. Death Stranding is an interesting social experiment about humans reconnecting. There are many points in the game where players will be faced with difficulty and they will struggle. But in the end, Kojima doesn’t want you to suffer, he wants you to reduce the suffering of others. I think throughout all of Death Stranding’s development, Kojima had this one Mr. Rogers quote in mind.

Always look for the helpers. There will always be helpers. Because if you look for the helpers, you will know that there’s hope.

Fred Rogers


If Kojima’s plan has succeeded, the protagonist will mimic the player’s thoughts and attitude. As Sam Bridges evolves from a pessimistic loner to an altruistic hero grateful for community, so does the player. The first ten hours of the game are punishing and the traversal is difficult. But if it wasn’t so punishing and difficult, Kojima’s message wouldn’t hit so hard. Everyone feels over encumbered and everyone is struggling. The game is a genuine reminder that everyone is walking the same difficult path and the weight we carry isn’t ours alone.