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Internet Hoaxes and the Hype Train: Metal Phantom Pain Gear Solid Vita Infinity Edition

December 13, 2012 Written by Chandler Wood

Most of the Internet has fantasized by now about how the trailer shown at the VGAs for the mysterious The Phantom Pain could be the world’s first look at Metal Gear Solid V. Speculation is running rampant on what it could all mean, how and if it ties in to Ground Zeroes, what character it will feature, and a million other theories that we could spend the rest of the week picking over. Where there is a massive hype train and a mystery to be solved, people will inevitably cash in on the popularity with a level of misdirection, taking advantage of fans’ eagerness for a subject to troll them. This is what seems to have happened with the fake Facebook pages for Moby Dick Studio(s) and its founder, Joakim Mogren. Both of these profiles were created on Sunday the 9th, two days after the VGAs on Friday the 7th. This would give fans plenty of time to gather resources such as screenshots and begin compiling the most common theories so that the pages could start feeding into them.

The first one that we’ll look at is the company page for Moby Dick Studios. Initially they began releasing vague ‘hints’ regarding The Phantom Pain trailer:

  • “Open your eyes, already.” (They use this frequently on the page, including asking in a poll “Are your eyes open?”)
  • “The character in the trailer is not who you think he/she is.”
  • “Hey everyone! Our second hint revolves around the entire environment of the trailer and screenshots. Lurk in the shadows and you will find what you seek.”
  • “Hint #3: Ghost ‘Rider’.”
  • “Hint #4: “Where have I heard those sounds?”
  • “Hint #5: A troubled past?”

They have also been posting statuses containing the names of the members of the Cobra unit, of Metal Gear Solid 3 fame:

  • “The Pain lives”
  • “Fear everything”
  • “Hell hath no Fury”
  • “Let it all End”
  • “Please…extinguish my Sorrow”
  • “Grant me Joy”

Let’s take a look at what is wrong with this picture.  After going to such an effort to create such mystery behind The Phantom Pain, I don’t feel like it is in the creators’ plans to begin giving such overtly obvious hints that connect The Phantom Pain to the Metal Gear universe less than a week later. All assets displayed on the Facebook page, such as screenshots and logos are publicly available and would not be hard to obtain for Internet trolls to utilize in their spread of misinformation. Moby Dick Studio’s website states the following:

[DISCLAIMER] Moby Dick Studio and our representatives do not currently operate through any social medias such as Facebook or Twitter, except for YOUTUBE.

This disclaimer is posted on nearly every page of their site as if to continually remind you that you should not believe any ‘news’ coming from these channels.

The next profile that we want to look at is that of Moby Dick Studios ‘head’, Joakim Mogren. Both of these pages ‘like’ each other, so they are definitely related to one another. Where Moby Dick Studios’ page is playing the ‘serious hints and conspiracy’ card with their profile, Mogren’s page is very obviously satirical and funny in its offering. Let’s take a look at Mr. Mogren’s profile picture:

If you’re thinking that he looks more than a little familiar, compare this ‘totally-not-photoshopped’ picture of Mogren with the picture of Hideo Kojima publicly available on his Wikipedia page. With the rampant theory that the letters in Joakim are an anagram of Kojima, this profile very obviously plays into that.

(Is that Hulk Hogan’s mustache?)

The character art features Bolid Bake (really, they couldn’t get any more creative than ‘Bolid Bake’?), including the recruitment poster below and Bolid Bake punching a whale (see header image).

Again, the updates too obviously add a Metal Gearconnection, which appears to contradict what they were trying to do with the reveal at the VGAs. Finally, Moby Dick Studios (the Facebook) teased a ‘reveal’ today. This is what they had to say this morning:

Your minds can finally be put to rest! We are happy to announce the next chapter in the METAL GEAR SOLID franchise: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for the Playstation Vita! More information will be released later today, so keep your eyes peeled!

Fans began rapidly sharing this information and a slew of comments quickly appeared with questions, anger, elation, and everything in between. When I attempted to post a comment calling out that this was definitely fake with the logic that the Moby Dick Studio website didn’t display this information and that they wouldn’t announce that big of a reveal on their Facebook,  it was immediately deleted and I was blocked from being able to comment any further on their page.

The has since posted a status admitting that it was all fake, but attempting to cite a noble cause:

Now that so many of you know what we really are, I will say this out of honesty…….I watched so many of you get angry over the possibility of a Vita title. I successfully got THOUSANDS of Metal Gear fans to come to one place and be together, and you complain and cry over a handheld title? You guys are are METAL GEAR FANS. The top notch of the industry and you allowed yourselves to hate just because something didn’t go your way. 
Listen, MGSV stood for Metal Gear Solid Vita. So many of you had MGS5 crammed inside of your heads that MGSV meant (5) for you and couldn’t accept Vita. You could decipher the craziest things, yet not accept a crazy choice like Vita? Be Metal Gear fans and continue to have fun speculating at the Famitsu article next Thursday. It was nice getting the chance to have fun with all of you and if you are mad at me…..you’ll get over it :) OH! I will also continue to be a fast and reliable (No BS this time) source of Metal Gear related information for rumors and speculation.<

I will admit that I can be one to fall for this kind of hype. This scenario reminds me of when I downloaded the entire ‘leaked’ 5th Harry Potter book before its release. At close to 1000 pages, I read the entire thing from my computer, and on the day of the actual book’s release, I discovered that I had essentially read someone’s fan fiction. While in both situations I remained somewhat skeptical, part of me wanted so badly to believe that it was real.

The only thing that we can do is scrutinize the facts and what we know to be real. I was fortunate that I had our esteemed Editor-in-Chief to point out a couple of things that evidenced the trolling nature of these pages and keep me rooted in reality, but many people were blindly led by these Facebook profiles without the idea crossing their mind that they may not be getting real information.

Is the cause of bringing Metal Gear fans together and attempting to teach us to accept any possibilities excusable for spreading misinformation and false excitement to a lot of people? Have you ever fallen victim to someone taking advantage of the hype of a subject? Tell us about your experience with hoaxes in the comments below and stayed tuned to PlayStation LifeStyle while we strive to bring you real information about the video games industry, including Famitsu’s Metal Gear reveal next week!