One of my favorite classes this past semester was Communications 436: Entertainment Reporting, which was taught by OC Register reporter Paul Hodgins.
While his lectures were perhaps a little vaguely laid out for my tastes, that was readily made up for by the interesting auxiliary bits he included during each three-hour class period — namely the mock newsroom sessions where we were able to write-up pieces in short bursts of time and design fake newspapers/websites/etc.
It was just the kind of cool real-life skills practice I haven’t seen come out of too many classes that aren’t taught by the Daily Titan advisor, for example.
Bonnie loves using her classes to feed into the newspaper for content generation.
The other thing I really liked about Professor Hodgins’ class was the fact that it offered the opportunity to write about subjects I might not have gotten to otherwise — more Lifestyle reporting practice, for example.
One example of that was the weekly beat report based on video game news, something I’m still deciding whether or not I want to keep up in the long run.
Because video games were my beat for every facet of the class, I also got to write some genuine articles in a few different styles. Ironically, the news story I pulled together about violence in video games was the only one I got out in print. However, I am still working on a profile piece the class initiated that I’m hoping to put out next semester.
The only piece that I never had the intent to publish was a trend story regarding the rise of the ‘battle royale’ genre of gaming. My sources for the story were Kyle Bender and Jared Eprem, the Titan’s spring 2018 Editor-in-Chief and Sports Editor.
Yeah, not exactly sources to use for a story if I wanted it published as something unbiased and legit.
Despite that, I was proud of how this article as a whole shaped up considering its somewhat last-minute nature. Because of that, I didn’t want it to just rot away in my school desktop folder.
So I figure what better way to put it out there than using my personal blog! Just consider it a sample of how I can write about a different subject more than an actual professional piece.
This pre-write is a little long as is, so I’m going to cut the story itself under a read more. If you enjoy it, please let me know! I’m always open to any and all feedback I can get.
When playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), 21-year-old Communications Journalism major Kyle Bender said the drawn-out suspense of each game is what keeps him engaged.
During the minimum 40 hours he has spent playing PUBG (which he said is a small amount of time compared to some), he said the best part of his experience comes when he’s waiting to meet another live player.
He said guns become “more than just something to be toyed with” and gunfights are something to avoid, unlike other modern first person shooter titles where players run into the fray.
“What I like about PUBG is the feeling that someone could be hundreds and hundreds of meters away from me and still pose a threat. I have to be on-edge the entire time,” Bender said. “I think that’s the most realistic representation of gunplay I’ve seen in any game.”
PUBG, which was developed by PUBG Corporation and released on March 23, 2017, is just one of a number of titles occupying the burgeoning genre of video games known as battle royales.
The genre seems to have been named after the 2000 movie “Battle Royale,” directed by Kinji Fukasaku. In it, forty-two students from a Japanese high school were thrown onto a small island with limited supplies and forced to kill off one another within a three-day period.
“Battle Royale” was fairly successful, receiving several awards, including most popular film at the Awards of the Japanese Academy according to the Internet Movie Database.
The “Hunger Games” series of novels penned by Suzanne Collins between 2008 and 2010, as well as their movie adaptations starring Jennifer Lawrence that hit the silver screen starting in 2012, are also close facsimiles to what one should expect when picturing a battle royale video game.
Battle royale games throw a large number of players into a confined space to take part in a one-man-standing fight for dominance; with lots of waiting, Bender said.
However, the diverse interactive media of video games allows for some variation in the formula between individual titles.
For example, PUBG is well-known for its lengthy, lonesome and tense gameplay where the map boundaries, which Bender refers to as “the dead zone,” constantly shrink to bring remaining players closer to one another.
Meanwhile PUBG’s current main competitor, Epic Games’ “Fortnite,” includes a structure-building mechanic that allows players to adjust the battlefield to their advantage.
However, neither of these games are the progenitor of the genre. Many would credit Daybreak’s “H1Z1” for introducing this type of game to the general public.
“I’m sure there were more before that, but [H1Z1] was the first game that got any sort of foothold on Twitch. Then PUBG took over about a year ago,” Bender said.
H1Z1 was first released as an early access title on Valve’s gaming platform Steam in 2015, where it eventually became popular and released a standalone battle royale in 2018 with the subtitle “King of the Kill.”
However, its official release came after June 2017 when H1Z1 lost 91 percent of its player base according to the UK gaming magazine MCV.
PUBG was released in March of 2017.
As Polygon reporter Charlie Hall pointed out in a Sept. 22 article examining the emergence of Fortnite as a PUBG competitor, even H1Z1 did not originate all of the concepts one sees in modern-day battle royale titles. He specifically refers to the 1978 Mattel Intellivision game “Armor Battle” as an early example of a closed arena last-man-standing game.
He refers to the current end of the genre’s lineage, games like PUBG, as refinements more than a revolution.
Much of the success of the modern-day battle royale genre can easily be attributed to the livestream community service Twitch.
A major showcase for the platform’s ability to amplify the popularity of battle royales came in March 2018 when the rapper Drake (known for “Best I Ever Had” in 2009 and “Hotline Bling” in 2016) broke records by playing with streamer Tyler Blevins, known by the screen name “Ninja.”
According to an article by Polygon, the stream had over 658,000 concurrent viewers at one time, which nearly doubled the previous non-tournament record on Twitch. The stream also dominated the top four trending topics on twitter that night.
Editor’s Note: The Twitter post by @MLGSundance which I had previously been using to show the analytics on twitter the night of the Drake/Ninja stream seems to have been taken down since.
My apologies for that.
Bender does not feel the games are engaging to watch because of how hard it can be to rotate between a large number of players during events like tournaments.
However, one of the reasons battle royale games have interested viewers as well as players is because sessions are compartmentalized enough to make it easy for one to jump in and out without missing much, said 19-year-old Communications Journalism major Jared Eprem.
“With other sports or games, you typically have to dedicate about an hour to watch a fair amount of the event,” Eprem said. “All you need is 12 to 20 minutes to watch a game or two of Fortnite.”
The passion behind battle royale games continues to burn brightly in the modern gaming sphere, but their future seems relatively uncertain as it enters the mainstream more and more.
Much like the success of Blizzard Entertainment’s character-driven team-based first person shooter “Overwatch” drew copycats like Hi-Rez’s “Paladins,” battle royales are also undergoing a period where other companies hope to capitalize on their success.
Fortnite is arguably capitalizing on the success of PUBG. As are games like “Rules of Survival” and “Knives Out,” which have led to their creator NetEase being sued by PUBG Corp according to a Kotaku article from April 2018.
Activision’s first person shooter series “Call of Duty” is also poised to enter the world of battle royale content based on their announcement of a Blackout mode coming in “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.”
Whether or not this kind of emergence into such a popular market will continue to stoke battle royales’ fervent fanbase or leave it oversaturated by mediocrity is yet to be seen. Only time will tell.