Hold On! Gimme A Sec

Why Do People Love Battle Royales Games?

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Only one person survives the ordeal. Is it the Hunger Games and Battle Royale, or the video games PUBG and Fortnite, that I’m referring to? In this category, there are far too many options to choose from. Squid Game, a recent TV show, has captivated many viewers, and other fight-to-the-death content is riding this cultural wave as well.

The Japanese game Kami-Sama No Iuutori (As the Gods Will) is similar to Squid Game and has a similar theme. That is, turning children’s games into a lethal exercise. The difference is that the latter involves high school students, whereas the former involves debt-ridden adults.  

What is with this violent genre, and why do people love it so much? Let’s explore the possibilities.

Battle Royale Origins

Contrary to popular belief, the battle royale has been around for a long time. It comes from boxing or wrestling term that roughly translates to “a fight between many combatants with only one winner remaining.” Specifics vary depending on the sport, as the two mentioned were not the only ones. The first chapter of Ralph Ellison’s (not H.G. Wells’) novel Invisible Man from 1952 featured a battle royale.

The killing aspect first appeared in Koushun Takami’s dystopian novel “Battle Royale,” which he wrote and published in 1999. Within a year, a hit film was released, and the term took on a more violent connotation. During this time, the terms “death game” and “killing game” became popular.

Because the author is Japanese, the country has a leg up on the competition when it comes to popularising the genre. Battle Royale spawned a slew of works, including films, manga, and anime, all of which incorporated the deadly games. People around the world were unaware of this cultural phenomenon until the Hunger Games franchise made it popular in Western media in the late 2010s.

Since then, there has been a steady stream of media with this premise. The Purge and Assassination Nation are two films that come to mind. The Fate/Stay Night series, Btoom!, and Mirai Nikki (Future Diary) are examples of pre-2010 manga series. Until the arrival of PUBG in 2017, video games were more subtle with the Zero Escape and Danganronpa franchises (released in 2009 and 2010 respectively).

PUBG paved the way for a slew of similar games, the most popular of which is Fortnite Battle Royale. The latter’s Save the World mode had a good single-player story campaign, but Fortnite Battle Royale took the game to new heights. Apex Legends and Call of Duty were soon to follow. Then there are Fall Guys, which is arguably the most faithful recreation of the original battle royale of the genre. It’s also a less violent example because there’s no blood and the other players are only disqualified from the premise of the ‘game show,’ rather than being stabbed or shot.

So why has this genre of violence and killing become so popular?

A Psychological Perspective

There are all kinds of opinions on the topic, but here are just a few factors that might have contributed to the genre’s popularity.

The first is competition’s nature and our response to it. The second is the fantastical nature of the genre. Finally, viewers enjoy having their fight-or-flight survival instincts triggered. Let’s start with competition and work our way through them one by one. Extrinsic motivation, or the desire to win a game, is something we get from the competition. This is in contrast to ‘intrinsic motivation,’ which is when you feel good when you do something right. The reason you do something is what distinguishes them.

Extrinsic motivation is when you do something to avoid punishment or receive a reward (whether physical or not). Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, makes you feel good because you know you did the right thing, even if it had negative consequences. It’s more subjective than the other type because people’s tolerance levels for negative experiences vary.

In any case, we can all agree that winning is satisfying. You’ve worked hard and risen to the top, defeating all of your competitors. It makes no difference what type of competition it is, from quizzes and spelling bees to sports and talent shows.

It doesn’t end with you being a competitor. We can attach our identity as a fan to one of the sports teams, for example, because we can relate to others. We support a favorite team or player. Isn’t that why we watch sporting events in stadiums and coliseums? We show our support for a favorite competitor by cheering for them when they win or crying when they lose.

Similarly, we can root for a contestant while watching these death games. We want them to survive and win, and when they’re in danger of losing, we’re on the edge of our seats. It’s why Kang Sae-death byeok’s before the final game infuriated fans. She was a fan favorite, sometimes even more so than Gi-hun, the main character.

While we can empathize with their very human problems and motivations, the majority of people will say they will not participate in such a game. No matter how much they say it, if these types of games existed in reality, there would be people willing to play them.

That brings us to the next point: the fantastical nature of the story. Fantasy is a popular media genre since it is unlikely to occur in real life. It allows people to explore topics (even taboo ones) in a safer environment than if they were stabbed, which isn’t always good for one’s health.

While some of these killing games are realistic, some elements indicate that they are not. For example, in Danganronpa, all of the punishments appear to be excessive. Furthermore, many of these games were created because they were set in a dystopia, which does not apply to our current reality (though some disagree). This type of media also functions as social commentaries on our current situation, but in fantastical ways.

It’s a way to get away from the monotony and boredom of everyday life by giving people a glimpse into lives that are completely different from their own, as well as a sense of adventure that they can’t get from their real lives. We watch this type of media because it is extremely unlikely to happen to us, and viewers are well aware of this. That is why the fantasy genre is so popular around the world.

The final point is related to this in that one of the reasons people watch this type of media is to simulate a life-or-death situation. Because there are other dangers in our society, we can be a little complacent in our current situation, which doesn’t necessarily force us to use our survival instincts. When you’re thrown into a game like this, your instincts are likely to be piqued.

This is more prevalent in video game versions, as repeated exposure to the media creates a sort of immunity to the theme. Battle Royale video games like Fortnite Battle Royale, PUBG, Rules of Survival, and Apex Legends are all unpredictable, with a chance to win at any time. Like the chance of winning a jackpot in a casino, this entices players to play more.

Sure, there is some skill involved in playing, and for some players, that is the driving force behind their participation in the game. They want to improve (though it could also be to increase their chances of winning). Improving themselves for the sake of improvement demonstrates their competitive spirit, though doing so in excess can have negative consequences.


People can, of course, enjoy these media in other ways. One of the most compelling reasons is the portrayal of the characters. Character development, whether as a hero or a villain, is the most important aspect of fiction. They are the ones who propel the story forward. Unlikable characters will not be helped by a good plot, but good characters can make a bad plot interesting.

People cry in the Squid Game because the characters were so good at making people care about them. Surprisingly, this applies to side characters rather than the protagonist, but the protagonist is well-written. It’s just that some fans preferred other characters.As previously stated, everyone thinks in their way. As a result, there are a plethora of ways to appreciate and enjoy this type of media. Even if they prefer one type of media over another, these factors can still influence how they enjoy it.

Those are just a few of the reasons why battle royale games are so popular. Whether it’s in the form of movies, video games, anime, manga, or books, the genre will continue to thrive in the coming years. Sure, it’ll be overshadowed by the next new fad, but for the time being, it’s stuck in people’s heads. Squid Game’s popularity is proof of that.

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