BCM215 – Cultural Impacts & Influences of PUBG and Battle Royale Genre

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Carrying multiple rewards and millions of downloads, it is no secret that PlayerUnknown BattleGround (PUBG)’s popularity shook the gaming scene back in 2017. But what is PUBG and the battle royale genre, and what cultural implications can we draw from its period of popularity? My part in this DA is to explore the changes that PUBG brought into the gaming world, and what inspirations drove the developers to revolutionize the gaming scene with a trending genre that future games adopt.

Defining the Battle Royale genre

Battle Royale games are a genre where the player enters a battlefield with roughly 100 other players. It is a genre that mixes the exploration, survival, and combat aspects as one must locate weaponry and good gear and use them to slay other players in order to be the last man standing and win the game. This idea is the basis of Battle Royale games, which evokes references to movies that explore similar concepts.

Battle Royale in Media

Tracing back to the cultural influences of PUBG, there have been movies produced that encompass the idea of Battle Royale. Take the popular hit-series, Hunger Games (2008) for example. People familiar with the series can notice that the participants are divided into groups in order to duke against each other in a battle royale deathmatch.

The Hunger Games (2012) - IMDb
Cover Art of the Hunger Games, Source: The Hunger Games (2012)

Less known than the Hunger Games, but the original movie with the premise to spawn the Battle Royale genre was the Japanese action thriller titled “Battle Royale”, released in 2000.

Tatsuya Fujiwara in a still from the Japanese action thriller Battle Royale (2000), directed by Kinji Fukasaku.
A screenshot depicting the student participants from the Battle Royale movie, directed by Kinji Fukasaku.

The premise is set in a dystopia where a group of students are kidnapped and forced by the fascist totalitarian government to participate in a death match against each other, as a way to frighten rebels.

Due to its controversial nature, the movie was never released into America which kept the movie relatively low-profile until now. Here’s the trailer:

Cultural Impacts of PUBG

PUBG’s debut as a battle royale game was around March 2017. In June 2017, PUBG had over 400,000 active players. We can notice similar popular battle royale games sharing success (eg. Fortnite, Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone) but they were all released after PUBG.

It was due to PUBG’s success as an untapped gaming market that spawned several new games under the Battle Royale genre, and will likely influence the games in the future with the popularized concept of hundreds of players duking it out to the death.








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