It was 1:19 am. The clock had rolled over to my 10th wedding anniversary more than an hour earlier. Here I was, wide awake in bed, scrolling through posts on the BLUEBOXConspiracy subreddit, trying to make sense of this supposed Kojima Silent Hill ruse. But like any conspiracy, every new discovery added layers of questions. It was an infectious madness that had overtaken me. I wanted to believe. But what started out as fun turned into a frenzy of ridiculous reaches and confirmation bias for literally every little thing. And then an exceptionally important realization came to me: None of this actually mattered at all. The conspiracy exists because it’s currently in all possible quantum states. It is and it isn’t true all at once. It’s Schrodinger’s game, and much like the famous cat, the theories are both alive and dead inside the unopened (blue) box. We’re set to one day get an answer, with or without participation, and no amount of unearthing clues will ever change the outcome.
I should start at the beginning. No, not all the way back to Kojima’s history of messing with his audience—though that certainly played into the madness at hand here. I want to go back to a couple of weeks ago, when BLUE BOX Game Studios posted a tweet that sent an already festering theory into full blown conspiracy territory. I saw the idea that BLUE BOX and Abandoned were a Kojima and Silent Hill ruse begin to gain a lot more traction than the scattered comments in the months prior. So I decided to do some research of my own and put it all together in one massive post.
My article about the BLUE BOX Conspiracy was initially intended to simply present the information as an interesting possibility, but the deeper I dug, the more clues I found to support the idea, and the article began to read like my own rapid descent into conspiratorial madness. I was a believer. After all, Kojima had done it before, and I covered that original ruse. This didn’t seem too far off the mark.
I’m probably giving myself too much credit here, but the popularity of my article, in which I myself had unearthed new bits of evidence I hadn’t seen elsewhere, really sent the ball rolling on the conspiracy. Multiple points from my article were used verbatim in a Reddit post, and that Reddit post was then sourced by other major outlets. The BLUE BOX Conspiracy subreddit was born within 24 hours of my article publishing (and there are now actually two official BLUE BOX Conspiracy subreddits). And more and more “evidence” of the conspiracy seemed to be found by the minute. Eventually I decided to give up on keeping my article updated with new information. The deluge was too much, and sifting through everything was becoming a nightmare. Yet still, I felt tied to this journey I had started. I wanted to follow it to its conclusion.
Leaving the Conspiracy Behind
Getting away from home for my anniversary that weekend was perhaps that best thing that could have happened for me during this time. I set my phone aside and focused on enjoying a weekend with my wife, away from work, video games, and the usual stresses of home. That included not following the BLUE BOX conspiracy as it evolved into an uncontrollable beast, pitting parties against each other in two camps: those who believed, and those who did not. That’s when I came to the realization that nothing about this mattered at all. This wasn’t an ARG that fans had to figure out. It either was Kojima/Silent Hill, or it wasn’t. And at the end of the day, no matter what the outcome, these little bits and scraps of evidence wouldn’t matter. When I returned home, it was far from the fun speculation that it all began as, and BLUE BOX was attempting to sweep up the mess that had been made, denying repeatedly that they had anything to do with Kojima or Silent Hill.
After talking to a few people who had spent the weekend chasing down this conspiracy—or rather, chasing proof that it wasn’t a conspiracy—I now no longer believe. The Abandoned trailers app that should have started to offer answers was delayed by a few days, and then again pushed by nearly two months into August. Hasan Kahraman posted a video proving himself to be a real person, and got the outsourcing studio to post a video confirming they were working with BLUE BOX.
And yet, it didn’t deter people who wanted to believe. I saw speculation flying around that Kahraman was either an actor or a digital creation. I’ve seen theories that say the outsourcing studio is proof this is a AAA game because of things like budgets and their own history. Neither are true. And these theories are so full of conveniently ignored holes they’d give swiss cheese a run for its money. Still, confirmation bias grips people tightly.
Confirmation bias. If you go into a search with a predetermined conclusion, you are going to find evidence of that conclusion. You’ll make leaps in logic that support your view, rather than looking at the information presented in an unbiased way. You’ll force the conclusion you want. So those deepest in the conspiracy began reframing even all of the proof against it as confirmation. The absolute twists they needed to take to reach these conclusions were staggering. And it reaffirmed my decision to step away from the conspiracy and acknowledge it for what it all is: an indie developer who overpromised, got in over his head, and is now reaping unwanted attention from a rabid group who thinks this is Kojima and Silent Hill. It’s Occam’s Razor. Even the Moby Dick/Phantom Pain ruse was more obvious and playful than this conspiracy is. The ruse back then was meant to be absurd and evoke questions.
Finally, the ultimate delay of the Abandoned trailers app to August put the nail in the coffin for a lot of people. Those who had been casually following it grew bored and moved on. We saw our related traffic here at PSLS surrounding the topic of BLUE BOX fall. But as much as the conspiracy is all but dead and buried at this point, there are those who still believe that everything that proves it false is “misdirection” while everything that is even tangentially related bears all of the importance in the world. I’ve seen people make some of the most absurd connections. I’ve seen people invent entire scenarios—like meetings between Sony and BLUE BOX—out of thin air, just to try and explain things. It’s fanfiction.
With the increasingly connected nature of our world, everything is scrutinized and speculated about. Famed developers can’t do anything without somehow being clues and hints about what they are working on. Remember the time Cory Barlog changed his profile picture on Twitter and everyone thought he was working on a space game or leaving Sony? That didn’t pan out too far.
Unfortunately for the media industry, stuff like this is ripe for the picking, and we force the most innocuous things into the conversation like they should be the center of attention. I’m not absolving myself of any blame on that. I’ve certainly done my fair share of picking at small pieces of info to make big headlines. When we’re all vying for attention on this vast place we call the internet, it’s these unique takes and angles that can get us the attention we need to survive and put another meal on the table. (And no, unlike Twitter would have you believe, we do not get paid for reviews or to promote services like Game Pass. If you’d like to see the people that do, go check out the influencers raking in the money over on Twitch and YouTube.) And so the cycle goes.
Fake News, Real Damage
I know I said earlier that none of this matters, but in fact, some it does. Ultimately none of it matters to whatever Abandoned ends up being (if it even really ends up being anything at all). Silent Hill, indie survival horror game, or vaporware that will never actually release; Discovering the most obscure evidence changes absolutely nothing about it. So why chase it? But the fact is that the conspiracy has affected Hasan Kahraman, whoever else is working at BLUE BOX, and those at the edges of the conspiracy. It’s thrust a man into an angry spotlight full of people who don’t even believe he’s real and are digging up everything from his social media profiles to his PSN account to try and prove it.
I have my own thoughts about how Hasan Kahraman and BLUE BOX got to this point—rampant conspiracy aside. The short version is that this is a guy who has a history of making big promises and only half finishing the things he works on. He’s a man with vision, certainly, but he’s a lot of talk with little to show for it. The failed Kickstarters and half finished Early Access releases…it all reminds me of someone I used to know about 12 years ago.
This friend of mine was a chronic liar and would overexaggerate all the time. He promised big things constantly, but could rarely ever deliver on them. He invented fake companies and fake co-workers and maintained everything as the truth. He spun webs and built teetering houses of cards out of his lies, getting so deep in the falsehoods and promises that he would come to truly believe them himself. He was charismatic as anything and for a long time, I believed his intentions were good, probably a reason I remained good friends with him for years, but ultimately his lies bore him out and I couldn’t be around him anymore. In many ways, I get some of the same red flags from Hasan that this old friend of mine gave me constantly. Shifting goalposts. Secrecy. Odd inconsistencies. And I assure you, my old friend was not secretly Kojima working on Silent Hill.
Now imagine you’re a small indie dev. You’ve struck some kind of agreement with Sony to make the survival horror game you’ve been chasing for years. And then suddenly, somebody starts connecting you to Silent Hill and Kojima. That’s just free marketing, right? So you lean into it a little bit, have some fun. Draw some attention to your game. But the attention starts to get to be too much. You walk it back, attempt to put the genie back in the bottle, but it’s too late. Admittedly this thought is just as much of a conspiracy theory as the idea that BLUE BOX is a Kojima ruse, but Occam’s Razor says it’s the much more likely scenario, and nearly every “coincidence” and piece of “evidence” can be justified by that explanation as well (and a whole lot more easily than some of the twisted logic required to reach the other side).
Schrodinger’s Game Inside a BLUE BOX
But that really doesn’t matter, because ultimately, the point of this article is not to pursue a side of “real” or “fake” or to try and explain everything one way or the other. I have my own knowledge and beliefs on the topic, and I’m sure you have yours. The point is to pull back the seriousness of all of this to something a little more fun and light hearted, like the hilariously fake Joakim Mogren. I mean, the dude had bandages wrapped around his head, and on more than one occasion made hilariously obvious overtures about The Phantom Pain being Kojima and Metal Gear-related. The BLUE BOX Conspiracy has long since lost the same fun and charming nature of musings, curiosities, and coincidences.
The point is that it doesn’t matter.
Games aren’t meant to be hidden. They are meant to be marketed to the public. So regardless of consumer intervention, we’ll get an answer to this. In the end, the conspiracy is either true or its not. And at this point in the public conversation, it retains the quantum superposition of both states existing at once. But the hunt for answers will not change the outcome, nor the fact that we will eventually get an outcome. Unearthing the next obscure clue will not magically change Abandoned into Silent Hill if it is not. Forcing something to mean something else will not change whatever this all ends up being. And so, it’s pointless to pursue it past the point of entertainment.
While I had a lot of fun digging up those early pieces of evidence and being a believer, returning to see the madness that had overtaken people showed the much darker side of the conspiracy. Rabid and angry belief that came at the expense of reason. Madness and ire aimed at people who didn’t believe, and at the developer himself.
So let’s suppose either of those states comes to pass. The conspiracy is ultimately proven false. What then? How then will you justify months of scraping even the tiniest details, using twisted logic to make them work for your theory that didn’t turn out to be real? Weeks, and possibly months, of telling a person you didn’t believe he was real, and saying that his whole existence was a Kojima plot?
And even if it is true, did hunting down any of the clues actually matter in the end? What value did harboring the “knowledge” ahead of time have? Even on the off chance that it does turn out to be true (again, based on my own research and conversation, I am firmly in the camp of this all being blown way out of proportion), the likelihood is that most of the “evidence” people dug up is completely unrelated anyway. Which again means that no matter which outcome it is, letting the conspiracy consume your life is pointless. Causing it to impact others’ lives, particularly in harmful ways, is pointless.
This realization freed me. It was 1:19 am. The clock had rolled over to my 10th anniversary more than an hour earlier. I pressed the power button on my phone and rolled over to go to sleep, content to leave the madness of the BLUE BOX conspiracy behind me.