Battle Royale (disambiguation) Thread

I wanted to open up a thread for discussion about the Battle Royale genre, but in doing so wanted to highlight the novel/film _Battle Royale_ and the way it's themes have been exported into the now massively popular game genre. _Battle Royale_ could even be said to be responsible for an entire genre of dystopian YA literature (_Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent_, etc.) Much has already been written elsewhere about this so I'm going to present this information in a series of excerpts. The two below excerpts are from [Labor Games: Youth, Work, and Politics in East Asia]( warning), a excellent 30 page academic article that goes into great detail about the situation in Japan that informed the work.


Battle Royale (2000) has received critical acclaim worldwide. In Japan, it has become one of the ten highest-grossing films. The film’s engagement with youth bashing touched a raw nerve in recessionary Japan, where pundits relentlessly called young people spoiled and lazy, blaming them for Japan’s economic woes. The film resonated with young people’s experiences of the shifting expectations toward them. Certainly, young viewers did not see the film as science fiction disconnected from their everyday lives. Rather, they felt that the film bluntly spelled out what they were increasingly expected to do: to “battle it out” in conditions in which they were not equipped to win or even to survive. The film relies on military imagery to describe the cruelty of a neoliberal labor market that allows individuals only two options: win or lose. Ann Anagnost observes that the military imagery Battle Royale evokes is not unique to Japan. In this imagery, Anagnost argues, personal futures are intimately intertwined with national ones. It is not only individuals who fight for survival. “These military metaphors,” she writes, “resonate with the resurgence of hypernationalism in which the nation is seen as engaged in a Darwinian struggle for survival.”



By the late 1980s, economic growth had faltered, and the burst of a speculative asset bubble between 1986 and 1991 pushed the country into a long recession.14 The institutions that safeguarded the high-speed economic growth (high growth) period—the developmental state, large corporations (keiretsu),15 and the system of lifetime employment—started to crumble. The government was under growing pressure to further the deregulation of the national economy, including the domestic labor market. Steven Vogel argues that although Japanese corporations were under mounting pressure to slim down their workforce and replace their system of lifetime employment with a system of merit-based pay, they did not abandon the postwar labor contract.16 This is true. While corporations tried to preserve the system of lifetime employment for their older employees, the prolonged recession forced them to hire new employees on flexible contracts if they were not forced to freeze hiring altogether.

(emphasis added)



The timing of the book’s release coincided with Japan’s descent from an all-consuming economic high. Japan was in the midst of its “lost decade” (失われた十年; Ushinawareta jūnen) following the crash of the bubble economy in 1990, earmarked by the 1995 Kobe earthquake and the Tokyo sarin gas attacks perpetrated by Aum Shinrikyo cult members (地下鉄サリン事件; Chikatetsu sarin jiken). The horrific 1997 Kobe child murders (神戸連続児童殺傷事件; Kōbe renzoku jidō sasshō jiken) brought to light a rising spate in violent juvenile crime. Then Takami comes along with Battle Royale. – Battle Royale: From Dystopian Thriller to Cult Classic



“I wanted to write about the trapped feeling of living in Japan I’ve felt clearly since childhood…and that’s what I attempted to do. Here in Japan, being different from other people makes you a potential scapegoat when anything goes wrong…. Even if a rule is clearly ridiculous, nobody will speak out against it, because people think, “If I say something, others will think I’m different,” and the rule continues unchanged.” – Takami Koushun, Author of Battle Royale



The genre of games doesn’t just borrow its gameplay conceits — deserted island, random weapons, dangerous parts of the map, sole survivor — from the movie Battle Royale, it also enacts the same crisis of meritocracy, where there are not enough rewards to go around. Around 2017, when the games first took off, it was clearer than ever before that American meritocracy had broken down. The institutions that had once, however imperfectly, facilitated social mobility, particularly higher education, now promise only endless debt. The lucky ones — the influencers — seem closer to us than ever, their lives floating impressively by on our social media feeds. Yet most of us live much more constrained lives, as we watch our hopes for a prosperous, stable future evaporate. And then there is the constant threat of random, meaningless violence: fires, shootings, riots, the pandemic.

>Battle royale games are the stories kids tell themselves about this culture of cutthroat competition. Just like the real world, in battle royale games only the one percent win. But these games are a fantasy in which this unequal outcome is produced transparently and equitably, albeit violently, a fairy tale about how the meritocracy should really work. Though it is tough, brutal, and difficult, it is fair; and though you have only a small chance of winning, the forces that oppress you are not unseen — they are clear and distinct. The decks are not stacked: everyone has the same health, the same armor, the same access to weapons and upgrades. You’ll probably die. But you will live and die on your skills alone. – Meritocracy and Battle Royale

At it's core, Battle Royale is about children competing against each other for scarce resources. While it sprung from a period in Japanese history where competition was rife among students for prized employment opportunities, the metaphor can be extended. What I think makes it the perfect game genre for the Anthropocene is that it's not just a Man VS Man conflict, but a conflict set against Man VS Nature. The constantly decreasing map size driving players into conflict with each other, could be seen as a metaphor for climate change, as soon the earth itself will have smaller "habitable zones" where people will compete for natural resources like water.

As to the "Free to Play" and "microtransaction" aspects of games like _Fortnight_, I want to highlight Tim Roger's old insert credit article ["who killed videogames? (a ghost story)"](, about the dark machinations behind addictive "social games" of the Facebook era.


“The players will come for the cute characters, and stay for the cruel mathematics.”

I open up this thread to discussion of all things Battle Royale, including and especially the games that have taken their inspiration from the novel.

i for one am all for videogames reflecting hierarchies of domination endlessly you feel me

Yowsah! Yowsah! Yowsah!

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I watched _They Shoot Horses, Don't They?_ for the first time a few months ago and it feels so much like an early one of these which is fitting because it's the only one I can think of that's a period piece and not a future or alternate present dystopia.


@“TracyDMcGrath”#p83264 it’s the only one I can think of that’s a period piece and not a future or alternate present dystopia.

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But seriously, the serendipity of America's depression era producing a similar elimination contest story as Japan's recession is interesting.

incredible that fortnite has called in Queer Month with the unintentional comedy of featuring a skin called Opressor

Thanks, I feel like I now have a very solid understanding now! haha.

The first time I ever heard the phrase "Battle Royal" was at the age of 8. It was of course in a video game, and I had no idea what it meant, so I had to assume. Pretty sure I was still running on the vague idea I'd garnered as a child until reading your post tonight.
Anyways that video game was:
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Bomberman Party Edition! I'm pretty certain I recall some very smart persons that may or may not have been on Insert Credit Podcast mentioning that Bomberman is the OG Battle Royale video game, or among the first, or the first prominent and significant one, or something.
It's totally like PUBG when the time runs out and SUDDEN DEATH mode starts and blocks begin to fall around the perimeter of the battlefield! *Way* more exciting that the circle perimeters of PUBG and whatnot. Being squished to death by various cubes is a more immediate, visceral, and perceivable threat!

Now, I know from googling that *Battle Royale* and *Battle Royal* mean the same thing, and *Royale* is specifically referencing the fiction, but are these PUBG clones specifically named *Battle Royale*, never *Battle Royal*?

Trying to imagine if the novel “Lord of the Flies” inspired a slew of game knockoffs. Like, each player can only act while holding the conch, but negotiations can breakdown into violence. What other novels could be good?

The quote in OP from the _Battle Royale_ author about how people don't speak up even when rules are stupid makes me wish there was a secret objective in Battle Royale games where you could team up against whatever entity has pit you against each other.

@"treefroggy"#p84147 I know Fortnight calls it Battle Royale, with an E, but I'm not 100% sure about the others.


this would be an incredible thing in a live service or multiplayer game, or any social situation, or just having to work at a gas station

Just remember another book that fits in this genre: Steven King‘s “The Long Walk”, which was published under his pseudonym, Richard Bachmann. It was written in the late 60’s but published in 1979 (many of King's Bachmann books was his older stuff that he had sitting in a drawer for a long time).

_The Long Walk_ is another elimination contest, this time about children who must keep pace at 4 MPH, and if they fall behind they are killed. The eventual lone survivor of the marathon walk is granted a wish that is fulfilled by the dystopian government. What is it with putting specifically children in these kinds of elimination contests? This one is interesting because it's another example that predates _Battle Royale,_ but I'm confident that King was influenced by "Lord of the Flies".

King would later write _The Running Man_, another "death game" that takes place in a dystopia, though not a group elimination contest.

There‘s that new game, Skate Royale or whatever, the sick looking rollerdome one where you’re very obviously in a death competition of a different kind.

New Crazy Taxi is rumored to have a 100 player elimination mode.

I enjoyed F-Zero 99 for a while after that came out, so I could see myself having fun with Battle Royale Crazy Taxi.

Sega think they're going to make some Crazy Money with that!!!

I was actually really into the idea of it until I read more than the headline and saw the shooting part. All those Switch 99 games are really cool and a Crazy Taxi elimination game could rule. But I guess it is going to have AR15s and dabbing.

I think the F-ZERO 99 model is exactly the way to bring classic arcade experiences to the zoomer generation! It‘s the dream of the 90’s coming to fruition like 20 years later than we wanted it to, and it‘s like the fan-created online patches that get DMCA’d have been doing for about 15 years– like the mario 64,000 or whatever.


@“Chopemon”#p153713 But I guess it is going to have AR15s and dabbing.

in a way, that would be the craziest of taxis

Makes me think of how Simpsons' Hit n Run killed Crazy Taxi, and more recently matt G. wants to make a $impsons battle royal but wants it to be nonviolent. He was told that splatoon is the model, but foamstars beat him to it.

@“Chopemon”#p153713 Sega should just make a Full Auto remake then.

@“tomjonjon”#p153877 I'm not sure Sega Japan ever knew that existed.