In preparation for the much hyped sequel to Metal Gear 2, Metal Gear Solid, Konami needed to see a SWAT team in action. It seems that Kojima wanted to learn from a true SWAT team in order to convey a sense of realism within the game. They approached R.K Miller, a man with plenty of years of combat experience under his belt, and the rest is history. I recently chatted with R.K about his career and how the real life Master Miller lent a hand to one of gaming’s most unforgettable titles.
Hi R.K and welcome. First off, tell us a little about your background when growing up.
R.K- My youth was straight out of an American TV series called “The Wonder Years”. Middle class family. Mom & Dad came to California during the Great Depression from Iowa. He found a job with the bus company in Los Angeles. She was a stay at home mom. I graduated from high school and promptly joined the U. S. Marine Corps. Off to Vietnam. Did a total of three years in the Marines. Got my university degree and was considering going to law school but was tired of the classroom grind. Became a cop instead and that set me on the career path that led to today.
Does work within the military and Law Enforcement run through your family?
R.K- No sir
Did you time as a Marine help you when you entered Law Enforcement? If so, how?
R.K- No. On my own as far as getting hired, but had some great mentors in law enforcement during my career.
You have 37 years experience in Law Enforcement, and 17 years in SWAT/tactical assignments, R.K. While I’m sure those 28 years were littered with various dangerous, rewarding and remarkable moments, can you perhaps relay one story of a particularly memorable moment/event? (If need be, you can be as vague as you’d like)
R.K- There’s a few:
1)Pulling a guy out of a burning car before he was incinerated.
2)Leading a SWAT team hunting down a group of criminals that had ambushed and tried to kill another cop. Another time leading the SWAT team on a mission assault a house and arrest suspects responsible for multiple murders.
3)Building some great friendships.
4)Having students I’ve taught contact me after a particularly dangerous situation they had been in. They tell me that they remembered what I had taught them or they heard my voice in the back of their heads giving advice and it helped them fight through and win.
In Metal Gear Solid for the Playstation- a game that is heavily steeped in military tactics-, you are credited in the “special thanks” section. Give us a run-down on why Konami paid you a visit, what exactly they viewed to help with the development of their game, and in general how they were to interact with.
R.K- I had previously gotten to know a Japanese national who had a military background. He had come to the U S to get some training when I was working with a company called H&K International Training Division. We invited him back to go through other classes and he returned. He then asked permission to bring Konami and some others to observe our department’s SWAT team during training so we allowed them to be with us for a full day of firearms and tactics.
While you probably didn’t see the final game Konami produced, what did you hope they took from their time with you?
R.K- Actually, I didn’t really understand the full scope of what was going on at the time. The language barrier was partially to blame as well. I was glad to help out as they seemed to be good folks and just wanted to learn which is something I intend to continue doing as long as I can.
Out of interest, do you yourself have any interest in videogames, R.K? Also, in your training do you or have you ever used some kind of virtual reality/videogame programs as a tool?
R.K- I’ve dabbled in video games to a small degree but nothing too serious. Currently at the SWAT Academy, we have a 13 station “force option simulator” which is basically a big virtual reality video game. Each station has an M-4 rifle with control devices built into it. A student will pick up the rifle at his/her assigned station and then the instructor running the scenarios controls the overall situation. We can run two simultaneous scenarios so half of the 13 are faced with one tactical problem and the other half has a different problem. The system is called VICE which stands for Virtual Interactive Combat Environment. It is manufactured by Dynamic Animation Systems, Inc.
The SWAT Students we put through the system are a mixed bag when it comes to this training. Some really like it—I suspect they are “gamers”—and some don’t but we use it to develop their skills. The system was actually first developed for the U S Military which has a number of such installations.
You’re president of your own training company National Training Concepts, Inc. Beyond the expected training that goes hand-in-hand with firearms, what kind of leadership skills does someone need when, say, assuming the lead of a SWAT team?
R.K- That’s a good question. What we are looking for in a SWAT Team Leader or Commander is some that makes good tactical decisions, takes care of his personnel, holds them accountable, sets the standards under which the team operates, delegates appropriately, is a role model and definitely not someone who is so into himself/herself that they need an “ego enema.”
Do you have any advice for someone who is seeking a career in Law Enforcement?
R.K- It is a great career but it is also demanding. Professionally, you won’t make a lot of money but rewards will come in other ways that are even better. But you have to do it for the right reasons as well I’m very service oriented so it turned out great for me. A good dose of patience and maturity is expected of anyone trying to become a cop. There’s also the requirement that the individual not have a history of criminal behaviour, manages their finances well and has not gotten into dysfunctional behaviours such as drug use.
On a personal level, a career in law enforcement also can take its toll. Cops sometimes fall victim to the same issues that veterans returning from combat experience and I’m a good example. I had some psychological “baggage” with me from Vietnam but I picked up more as a cop. I destroyed my first marriage because being a police officer was more important but I couldn’t at first admit that to anyone. It requires a proper perspective on what is most important in your life. I tell this all the time to folks I talk to about the job.
Any last words for our readers?
R.K- Thanks for the opportunity to share some moments with them. No matter what your choice in life, make good mature decisions that are well thought out.