Battle Royale, Hunger Games, PUBG, and Fortnite have had an impact upon the world that has been truly epic. Each of these titles has one thing in common; there can only be one winner. I have looked at each of these experiences and came to one conclusion. Read at your own risk!
If we start with the concept of battle royale we can get a glimpse of the excitement that has almost everyone playing either Fortnite or PUBG. A set number of people are dropped into a setting and forced to kill one another until there is only one person remaining. The setting is usually littered with supplies and traps to aid the people in their victory. Whether it is a movie or a video game each title shares the common theme of winner takes all.
Battle Royale is the earliest known movie to explore this concept. The movie was set in Japan and featured 42, ninth graders who are taken to a deserted island as a field trip. They are given knockout gas and upon waking up find explosive collars around their necks. The movie debuted in the 2000s in Japan but wasn’t released in the States until 2001. The first time I watched this movie was in 2006 and I remember being enthralled by a single female character. She was using seduction, to lure in her male classmates and kill them one at a time. I remember going to school after seeing the film and being afraid of the attraction I had, with any female. However, at the end of the movie the winner is killed, so what was the point?
What that movie has in common with Hunger Games is that we see young adults pinned against one another. When I consider the age group I feel that it reveals a secret about humanity. During our young adult years, I feel we have the most ambition, the most desire to thrive and be loved by all. Whether in high school or college the desire to succeed in some form exists. Placing multiple people with that desire in a setting and forcing them to kill one another is monstrous. Hunger Games at least had somewhat of a prize for winning; a nice house and immunity, well not for the protagonist. They are forced to fight again next time and the cycle continues. So once again we are faced with the question of what is the point?
The video game Fortnite and PUBG are battle royale simulations. Players leap from an Airbus that is flying over an island and upon landing are scouring the land to find equipment and weapons. As they look for equipment the zone in which they are able to live is decreased, in size, in order to force confrontation. Upon winning the match, players are greeted by a winning notification and that is all. The player exits the game and cues up for another match.
I believe that the genre of battle royale is a social commentary on the human condition of success. We each crave success in one way or another. In school, we strive to have the best grades, looks, skill, or most friends. We want to be known and respected. In a battle royale, we are forced to confront one another to exert dominance and achieve victory. The genre feeds our deepest desire to be successful, no matter the cost. However, if we kill one another just to be the last one standing we will find an empty world. Should our drive for success cost us each other? That is the question I feel deep within as I play Fortnite or read the Hunger Games.
As a Christian, the bible tells us to love one another as we love ourselves. In the case of this world, our success is not based on surviving against humans, but rather the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:10-12). In a sense we are all, Christian or not, within a battle royale and there is only one way to victory. However, the path is not by killing one another but ourselves (Luke 9:23-25). Not a physical death, but a spiritual one as He morphs our ambitions to be more like Him (2 Peter 1:3-8).
That is my view on the matter, but what do you think? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or tweet @crownlessheir. As always thanks for reading Fam.
Grace to you,