The Drifter is a psychogeographer of videogames. A crazy cat lady once taught him the magic she uses to turn her enemies into mangy strays, so next time he asks you for small change for cheap booze or a bus ticket home, give generously.
In the days before I, THE DRIFTER, became a global blogging superstar, loved by gamers and non-gamers alike for my dense, witty prose, casual incitements to violence, and relentless persecution of the most vulnerable in society, I made a vow to pinch my bulbous PC gamer’s nose and finally overcome my aversion to the Metal Gear Solid franchise. In preparation I assembled and published a garbled and erroneous backstory of the series from nuggets gleaned in conversation with console-owning acquaintances. The story of chain-smoking mercenary Bossalot Snake disgusted fanboys for its disrespect to their beloved saga and catapulted me into the videogame blogging big leagues. Now all I had to do was wait for Japan’s infamously soft and flabby economy to weaken still further so I could pick up The Phantom Pain for a song. Reader: I’m pleased to say that Shinzo Abe’s attempt to jolt life into Japan’s economic machinery with negative interest rates has proven disastrous and The Phantom Pain finally dropped below £20 last weekend.
I swiftly transferred my collection of clown/strong-man slash fic circus porn to the cloud to make space on my hard drive for Konami’s masterpiece. Within minutes Hideo Kojima had proven deserving of his reputation for bloated and excruciating cut-scenes. Much occurred in the geological age between my starting Metal Gear Solid 5 and Big Boss finally clambering out of his Greek hospital bed to escape the implausibly voluptuous murderess attempting to prevent that eventuality: humankind went extinct under the weight of its poor lifestyle choices; new species of fauna evolved from the bacteria around my sink, achieved sentience, and left the earth to make a new home among the stars; and I, your humble correspondent, had an idea so brilliant it makes E=MC2 look like the charmingly naïve crayon pizzas my near-forgotten five-year-old son likes to scrawl on the wallpaper to make sure I remember to feed him. You’re about to hear it here first. Are you ready? Big Boss’s Business School.
“Get a puppy. Everyone loves a puppy.”
Think about it: here is a man so gifted in the arts of leadership that Kaz Miller, his favourite flunkey, got himself kidnapped and tortured in Afghanistan just to distract Boss’s enemies from his whereabouts. Could Napoleon Bonaparte or Alexander the Great make such a claim? Did anyone call Winston Churchill ‘Fattest Leader’ or Charles de Gaulle the ‘Top Cheese’? They did not. It takes true genius to deserve a soubriquet like that. Even Genghis Khan and Charlemagne weren’t big or bossy like Big Boss is big and bossy. Big Boss earned that title because he’s the biggest, bossiest boss there’s ever been – the biggest boss in town, the bossiest around. In the long–run historians will recognise that the Cold War ended not under the weight of Reagan’s nuclear stockpiles or from the collapse of the Soviet Union’s sclerotic bureaucracy, but due to Big Boss’s interference in world-wide military disputes, all for the sake of revenge against a mercenary NGO no more ethically compromised than his own. He should be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, not served up to sanctimonious human rights activists and UN apparatchiks who can’t handle the fact that an omelette maker sometimes needs to break eggs, callously take human lives, and hide a nuclear tank on the ocean floor.
This week’s column consists of extracts from the spin-off business textbook that will accompany my new Naked Snake MBA. It’s set to be a bestseller, because I’m going to buy the first two thousand copies myself and post them out to everyone who ever kicked sand in my face and called me a weakling. They’ll enjoy reading the story of my triumph against all odds from the cold comfort of their working class sink estates, while I’m chillaxing in my penthouse pouring champagne on my breakfast cereal, too busy to worry about what they think of me. That’s what success tastes like: cocoa pops soaked in over-priced fizzy wine. It’s how Big Boss feeds the troops back at Mother Base, and so that’s how I break my fast, too.
How to Be a Bigger Boss: or, a Punished Snake’s Guide to Ruthless and Effective Leadership
From the Introduction
I am not a natural leader. As a young tyke I bribed unsuspecting bullies with dog-biscuits to keep them away from me at break time, insisting that the meat-flavoured snacks were the latest fad enjoyed by super-cool French children, a demographic of whom they, like all British schoolboys, were inconsolably envious. Nonetheless I was teased mercilessly for my exquisite cherubim beauty, BBC accent, and refined sensibilities, which extended to carrying a full-length European umbrella wherever I went even though it was taller than I, and rising before dawn on Saturday mornings to watch a few hours of Open University mathematics lectures before my parents awoke to feed me granola served with almond milk. My long-suffering bear Marcel was the only creature ever to respect my leadership, and even he deserted me when his stuffing was ripped out by a terrier belonging to my only real friend, the school vicar. Needless to say, I have never felt comfortable around dogs or Church of England representatives since.
“He should be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, not served up to sanctimonious human rights activists”
My ability to inspire, rouse and command my peers had not improved by the time that, as a fully grown man, I returned to my Primary School as a newly qualified teacher. Within days my classroom divided along tribal lines. While I was locked in the supply cupboard the children raided the finger paints and smeared vaguely Palaeolithic patterns across their semi-naked bodies. The carpet intended for Show & Tell and nursery rhymes was captured by the Reds, and the tables and chairs by the Greens. Shirts hung out untucked; ties were ripped to make impromptu bandanas. A papier mâché and baking soda volcano was set alight and used to spit roast the unassuming teaching assistant, Miss. Sweetcheeks, a crime for which I later avoided conviction thanks only to the wealth of my parents and a judge susceptible to hastily imported lady-boys and a little mild blackmail.
After a year I escaped the warzone of my classroom with only one eye intact: a fact that binds me forever with Big Boss, a true leader who would never make my primitive mistakes, and would have no doubt pistol-whipped those enfants terribles long before the divine Miss Amelia Sweetcheeks was ever dipped in ketchup and honey-glazed BBQ sauce and served up in the cafeteria to a disgusted PTE. Discipline in Mother Base is tight as a drum, even though Boss is hardly ever around and rarely even speaks to the men he’s kidnapped and pressganged into his service. So how does he do it? This book will explore the core tenets of his management style so that we can all master the art of leadership, whether we’re a gym instructor or military colonel, encumbered housewife or President of the United States.
Ask the silverback CEO of any FTSE or NASDAQ blue-chip who recruits the best boys and girls to become bottom-feeders in their polluted corporate ecosystem and they’ll all give the same response: Google. My pals Sergei and Larry set out to build a company that only employed people smarter than they were, and they do that by asking impossible interview questions that only an autistic savant with a PhD in super-science or a point-n-click adventure game designer would know how to answer. Questions like: If you were shrunk to the size of a penny and stuck in a blender that was going to be turned on in thirty seconds, what would you do? And: If you caught a sexually transmitted disease that manifested as an old woman following you everywhere you went until she catches up with you and rapes you to death, would you pass it on to a local hussy and hope for the best, or come up with an elaborate rouse to electrocute it in the town swimming pool even though it’s a supernatural entity and probably not susceptible to ordinary physical shocks? Let me tell you a secret: there is no right answer. It’s just a ploy to make you feel stupid. Yet you insist upon trusting these people with your search history, pornography profile, consumer habits, and email correspondence with deposed African princes who might just be your long-lost cousin? More fool you, ingénue.
“Even Genghis Khan and Charlemagne weren’t big or bossy like Big Boss is big and bossy”
Let’s compare that with Big Boss’s recruitment strategy. Does Boss wriggle into some base on his belly with a list of absurd lateral thinking questions written on his arm, ready to test the mettle of the Soviet Union’s finest soldiers? No. Because he knows that the Russian education system is hopelessly corrupt, and most doctorates and scientific papers are just copied and pasted from the pages of glossy magazines and cans of pet food. These guys couldn’t debate their way out of a paper bag. So Boss simply shoots the handsomest guys in the face with a tranq, ties their unconscious bodies to a CIA balloon, and lets the wind decide whether they’re good enough to make it into Diamond Dogs or deserve to drown somewhere over the Pacific. I hope those of you in Silicon Valley are taking notes. Who needs an HR department when you’ve got a sniper rifle with knock-out bullets and a chick in a bikini who knows how to use it?
Back in the bad old days of office cubicles, company ties, horn-rimmed glasses, and well-funded, cast-iron pensions, employers thought the best way to motivate the workforce was with ever-fatter stacks of cash. Then Google happened, and suddenly AstroTurf, ping-pong, curly plastic slides and other frat-house furnishings became the only way to keep your geeks incentivised. Right? Wrong. Big Boss has disrupted the paradigm once again. If you want to keep your private military nation fighting fit, this is what you have to do:
Step One: Rip your soldiers from the bosom of their families, comrades, and loved ones and deposit them on an oil rig in the middle of the Seychelles, where they’ll never again know the scent of a woman or hear a child’s laughter.
Step Two: Strip away their names in favour of an absurd new title comprised of a random characteristic and an endangered species, such as Modest Orca or Suspicious Dodo. Soon they’ll shed their old identities and forget they ever had a life before Mother Base took them into her warm and sticky bosom.
Step Three: Get a puppy. Everyone loves a puppy, but psychopathic grunts with little empathy for their fellow man love a puppy more than most.
Step Four: Finally, slap them around until they lose consciousness. They love it because they love you, and they love you because you’re Big Boss. Don’t worry about the police stepping in; on this man-made fortress, training with the Boss is the highest honor there is. Remember: if they fear you as much as they desire you, they’ll be too scared to leave.
If you enjoyed reading these extracts from How to Be a Bigger Boss, keep an eye out for other forthcoming DRIFTER management guides, including Milk Like a Dairy Farmer, Sell Like a Cow: the Guybrush Threepwood Method, and Half Life 3: or, How to Succeed in the Videogame Industry Without Really Doing Anything.
 Which I then won’t do, because it would be Negative Reinforcement. Besides, I now have to put the money I might have spent on his dinner towards redecorating. Reader, you’ve no right to judge: if I gave up some of my own carbohydrates to appease my son, how would I have enough energy to keep you and the rest of my fan community entertained with more scintillating videogames criticism? You’d be shocked by the number of calories it takes to keep a brain as big as mine generating analysis as insightful as these columns. I’m basically the Wladimir Klitschko of ideas. If that means one snotty sprog has to go to bed without any pudding to ensure the Tyson Furies of the world know their place, well: it’s a sacrifice he should be willing to make. When I was his age I would lick the TV screen every time Chicken Tonight commercials came on, fantasising about a bellyful of creamy readymade curry sauce instead of the Dickensian gruel my parents spoon-fed me because buying milk was against their vegan-anarchist principles. And I turned out absolutely fine, with strong healthy bones and a hatred of animal products that extends even to whale music. Who are you to tell me how to raise my children, anyhow? It’s a free country. If I want to enforce discipline and good behavior at home by dressing in a Judge Dredd costume for the boy’s entire childhood, never taking off the helmet to reveal the deep chestnut eyes hiding above my square jawline, it’s my prerogative. Sneer from the side-lines like a lily-livered liberal or call social services if you must, but in here, I Am The Law.