Murder pays the rent

Student-turned-video-game-character now has her own action figure

By Petra Meijer

Stefanie Joosten (27) dropped out of her Japanese course to play the sexy video game character Quiet in the computer game Metal Gear Solid. “I literally jumped for joy. It was a dream come true.”

(Het originele Nederlandstalige artikel staat hier)
“I’m 1.67 tall”, says Stefanie Joosten, a former student of Japanese Studies. “I’ve always fancied modelling as a job, but in the Netherlands it was never a real option. I was on an exchange in Tokyo when I decided to register with a Western modelling agency for extra cash. A classmate had done it too - companies in Japan often want an international image. It went quite well and I did some adverts and commercials for Panasonic and Nikon.”
One day, she was bowled over by a phone call: ‘Whether I’d like to audition for a video game. I’m wild about video games: my love for Nintendo, Pokémon and animé began when I was a kid. Quite a few people end up studying Japanese via the same route. I was extremely excited, but still had no idea what it was about.’ That changed when someone put a replica of a gun in her hands at the auditions for Konami, a very big computer games company. “That’s when I began to realise what was up. They wanted to see me hold the gun, I had to take aim and strike different poses. I’d never held a gun before, but I’m a gamer and watch lots of action films, so that helped. They told me that I looked surprisingly natural.”
She was soon called up for the second round. “There was an improvisation exercise when I had to pretend to infiltrate an enemy base. There I was, in a completely empty room. Only the jury was there, seated at a long table. The man in the middle seemed vaguely familiar. When I Googled him later, it turned out he was Hideo Kojima himself, the great man behind the Metal Gear series. When they rang me and said I’d got the part, I literally jumped for joy. It was a dream come true. Mind you, I still had to sign a contract: I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone.”
Although she only had to write her Master’s thesis, she decided to drop out of her course to concentrate on the part. “Not everyone was happy about it, but I’ve not regretted my choice.”
From that moment on, her life revolved around the video game character Quiet. “She’s a cold-blooded assassin. Murder pays her rent. It requires a certain attitude. At first, it took some getting used to.”
She attended a military basics course. “You have to look professional, so I had to learn how to hold a gun properly. You tend to put your finger on the trigger too quickly, but that really is not done. They call it trigger discipline. Your finger should always be held outside the trigger guard. If you don’t do that, you’ll look as if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
The video game makers spent a year scanning her body and face. “They made 3D scans and motion captures. I had to wear a bodysuit with sensors all over it while infrared cameras recorded my every move. It felt like visiting a film set every day. There were no short scenes: I had to run through the whole story.”
She still had to keep quiet about it - she wasn’t even allowed to tell her gamer friends. In 2014, the game was announced at a big convention in Los Angeles, where the public was introduced to her character. “The Metal Gear series has been going strong for twenty years. Hardcore fans immediately began to speculate about the new character. I suddenly had thousands of followers on Twitter and when the game was published in 2015, it skyrocketed.”
Joosten now has her own action figure. “At conventions, I meet fans who dress like Quiet or have a tattoo of her. I was familiar with the phenomenon cosplay, but meeting your own character is weird.
But there have been some less favourable responses, too. “After the announcement, people criticised the way Quiet looked and her clothes. Or rather, her lack of clothes. In recent years, more and more women have taken up gaming and there’s an atmosphere in which people think female video game characters shouldn’t be sexually objectified. But Quiet’s skimpy outfit is part of her story. She was badly burnt during an attack and her leaders infected her with a parasite to save her life. That keeps her alive, as long as she doesn’t speak. If she does, the parasite will be released from her vocal chords and she’ll die and so will the people close to her. She has to breathe through her skin because of the parasite - if she wore clothes, she’d suffocate.”
On the Internet, some players have called the I-have-to-wear-sexy-bikini-or-else-I’ll-die theory too silly for words, but Konami boss Kojima defended it in interviews by saying that the public should be ashamed of themselves for regarding Quiet as a sex object, because she is also ashamed for her near-nudity.
Joosten comments: “It’s a statement by Kojima. In the game, the others call Quiet a freak. She’s teased about her appearance. Kojima is showing the world that near-nudity is not acceptable in the gaming world either. Me, I’m not too bothered about it. When I saw the first drawings, I thought she looked a bit exposed, but she looks tough.” Nevertheless, she is not expected to wear a tiny bikini to fairs where she promotes the game. “I go as myself, just like film actors do.”
The chances are real that Joosten will be appearing films too. “There are plans to make a film based on a Dutch-Japanese story.” Besides, we will be able to hear her voice in the animated film Implosion Zero Day, which will be out is 2018. “I’d love to continue acting in films and games while I have my work as a model too.” According to Joosten, her role in Metal Gear was a one-off. “I’ve not heard of plans for the future, I’m afraid.”

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Murder pays the rent

Stefanie Joosten (27) dropped out of her Japanese course to play the sexy video game …