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Publicity for Human Head Transplant May Actually Be Metal Gear Solid 5 Viral Marketing Campaign

A few days ago, my co-worker (let’s be real, he’s my work spouse) asked me if I’d jumped down the rabbit hole of “this whole head transplant/Metal Gear Solid V conspiracy theory.” I had no idea what this was all about, so I looked into it. In a nutshell, there is a theory going around the gaming community that the publicity surrounding the upcoming human head transplant surgery is actually a viral marketing campaign for Metal Gear Solid V, an upcoming video game title for current generation consoles. My friend told me some of the basic information and at first it sounded like a bit of a stretch, but as more evidence was presented to me (mainly through this YouTube video by user YongYea) it became more difficult to brush off the coincidences.

A user on the gaming forum NeoGAF originally pointed out the similarity of appearance between Dr. Sergio Canavero and the doctor who appears in the cutscene at the end of MGSV: Ground Zeroes informing Big Boss that he’d been in a coma for nine years.

The top picture is the real life Dr. Canavero, the bottom picture is the doctor character in the Metal Gear game. This is only the beginning. It just gets crazier from here.

Now, the supposed recipient of the head transplant surgery scheduled for completion in 2017 is a 30-year-old video game developer from Russia named Valery Spiridonov. A tenuous connection, but when seen as part of the whole, adds to the compelling nature of the theory and its connection to video games.

Furthermore, a British flag and map of the Republic of Cyprus are seen on the hospital wall during the cutscene, placing it most likely in a British colony on the island. Dr. Canavero (the real-life doctor) gave a talk for TED Limassol (which is an anagram for Solid Metals), Limassol being a city in Cyprus which is very close to a British colony.

The similarities don’t end there. In the Metal Gear series, Big Boss forms a base of operations for his mercenary army called “OUTER HEAVEN“, and Dr. Canavero’s head transplant operation has been code-named “HEAVEN” or the “HEad Anastomosis VENture Project.” Also, many of Canavero’s medical research documents refer to phantom pain, and the full title of Konami’s September 1st release is Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Not convinced yet? Last year Dr. Canavero released a book which has chapter titles like “Clones”, “GEMINI”, “Frontiers” and “HEAVEN”. We’ve already covered the HEAVEN connection, but for the uninitiated, clones play a large part in the storyline of the first Metal Gear Solid game; a group of mercenaries at the terrorist base “Shadow Moses” are known as “Genome Soldiers” and are revealed to be clones of Big Boss, who is the father of twin brothers Solid Snake (the good guy) and Liquid Snake (the bad guy). “Frontiers” may allude to Militaires Sans Frontieres, or “the military with borders,” the name of the private military group that occupies OUTER HEAVEN. Lastly, in the Metal Gear universe there is another pair of twins, who have organic heads and cybernetic bodies, and are named… you guessed it, Gemini.

There are other connections that have been made, and some arguments are less compelling than others. I find myself intrigued by these conjectures, if not necessarily convinced. If you’re still with me, just know that I fully accept that there is a 99.97% chance that this is all just extreme coincidence. In all the presented situations, Occam’s razor says that it’s just a coincidence and that the simplest explanation is that the truth of the matter is on the surface, and can be taken at face value. But if you, like me, are a die-hard fan of the Metal Gear series, you have faith in that 0.03% chance that Hideo Kojima (the mastermind behind the entire Metal Gear line of games) is just crazy enough to pull off a stunt like this to end his wildly successful Metal Gear franchise with a huge bang.

And if you’re wondering if I wear a tin-foil hat, I can assure you that I do not. Instead, I simply line my regular hat with tin-foil on the inside, as I tend to draw less attention that way.


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Ready Player One, a book review

If you’ve been paying attention to recent sci-fi literature or are generally in the know about all things nerdy, you’ve probably heard about Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. It’s a novel set in the not-so-distant future where an expansive MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) called “the OASIS” has become the new reality for humans. Conventional civilization and society have gone by the wayside and all endeavors, capitalistic or otherwise, take place in the OASIS.

After the death of James Halliday, the inventor of the OASIS, a video of his will is released explaining that there is an Easter Egg, or hidden series of quests, programmed into the OASIS. A top-10 scoreboard is also integrated into the game, giving players the ability to track the forerunners in the quest for Halliday’s Egg. The search for the Egg becomes a massive worldwide effort, and the key to unlocking the secret is having an extensive knowledge of 1980s video games and pop culture.

The story is told from the perspective of Wade Watts, a teenager whose life is dedicated to hunting for Halliday’s Egg. His OASIS avatar’s name is Parzival, a corruption of Percival of Arthurian legend who is a crucial figure in the quest for the Holy Grail. Parzival becomes an unlikely hero when his avatar’s name is the first to show up on the scoreboard. I won’t spoil anything else by going into specifics, but the story is genuinely fun, surprising, and at times endearing.

I plowed through this book from start to finish in three and a half days, and it was an intense ride through waves of nostalgia. If you’re looking for a fun romp through the glory days of retro gaming with a unique sci-fi twist, I cannot recommend this book enough. Look for Cline’s next novel Armada due out in July.