Scent is pretty much an untouchable dimension for multimedia. I doubt that many people pine for the ability to whiff what they’re seeing on the screen in front of them, and besides, delivering smell is impractical outside of big-ticket events.
Decades ago, Hideo Kojima, who’s best known for directing the Metal Gear Solid series of games, had a solution for the latter issue, at least. According to a post on Twitter, found by Kotaku, Kojima wanted the stench of blood to hover over Snatcher, one of his earliest games.
Snatcher was a cyberpunk thriller about mysterious invaders who assume the identity and appearance of the humans they capture. Although the game’s gunplay and pick-a-path adventure elements were primitive, its gruesome imagery and creepy synth music lingered on the brain. But it was for the game’s earliest iteration — as a text adventure for NEC PC-8801 computers — that Kojima hatched the smell plan.
Apparently, Kojima wanted to coat the game’s floppy disks with paint that smelled like blood. The computer’s heat would melt the paint, releasing the scent. It’s a clever concept, though I’m not sure melted paint is something you want inside of a computer. In any case, Konami didn’t back the plan, and Snatcher remained an odorless endeavor. The scent of video games, if you believe the tired stereotype, remains Red Bull and Doritos.
By the way, smelly media isn’t completely out of style. A billboard that smells like barbecue went up in North Carolina earlier this year, and in Boston, Smell-O-Vision saw a return a few years ago, for screenings of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with chocolate scent. That sounds better than blood on a melting floppy disk.