This might be the biggest gaming phenomenon since the invention of first-person shooters.
The 62% of gamers who use PC were well aware of PlayerUnknown's Battleground (PUBG) before it hit consoles last December. In PUBG, players are dropped via airship to a giant island–replete with weapons and supplies–where they must scavenge along with 99 fellow gamers. There's a caveat however; in the end, there can only be one survivor. The concept of killing enemy players online is hardly novel. Massive franchises like Halo and Call of Duty have been using simple point, shoot, and kill game mechanics for well over a decade.
The beauty in battle royal games, is the relatively small likelihood of victory. When your chances of winning are 1/100, the value of each win is elevated to such a point as to make the game wildly addicting. There are no prizes for second place and barring an insane amount of skill, it's pretty much impossible to consistently win, so players (including myself) end up chasing a single win for hours.
PUBG is the type of game that could only have been created by someone who was extremely plugged into to the PC gaming community, and it's history is as in important as its concept is simple. Following the release of Arma 2, an open-world shooter, a number of mods were made to the game by various programmers online. One of the most popular mods was called DayZ, which included a separate campaign featuring zombies.
Brendan Greene–better known by his gamertag PlayerUnknown– inspired by the Hunger Games novels then created his own modded version of DayZ in which players would face off in a 100 man death match. He produced subsequent versions of the mod for Arma 3, until he was finally given a chance to create the game beloved by so many today. None of this may sound particularly remarkable, but PUBG marks one of the first times a rogue creator, without any major studio backing, was able to create not only a new game, but an entirely new genre.
With the steady advancement of consoles and their ability to handle more complex games, it was only a matter of time before more developers wanted in on the action. Following PUBG's massive success, Epic, the studio behind the Unreal Engine and Gears of War, created its own battle royal game called Fortnite. While employing cartoonish graphics and adding a building/material gathering aspect similar to Minecraft, Fortnite redefined and reimagined Greene's original vision. That being said, the base of the game was clearly modeled off of PUBG and has left many fans of the original game upset. Still, there's a lot to be said for Fortnite's success.
The major factor that separates the two isn't gameplay; it's the fact that Fortnite is 100% free. By selling character costumes and other minor visual enhancements, Fortnite has managed to redefine the way console games work. While freemium games are the norm when it comes to cell phone apps, Fortnite is one of the first major video game titles to employ this model, and it's working. Well.
Fortnite hasn't just surpassed PUBG in active players, it's taken over Twitch as the most popular game being streamed, period, and its viewership is double that of PUBG's, with top streamers making $350,000 a month. On top of this, Epic announced the release of Fortnite mobile for IOS last week. It comes out tomorrow and is a prime example of the speed at which Epic is committed to updating its new project. The craziest thing however, is that Fortnite is still technically in beta. The game that millions of people have been playing isn't even finished yet.
Unfortunately, as Fortnite continues its meteoric rise, Brendan Greene's project is beginning to flounder. It's buggy on consoles and doesn't have the same universal appeal as its competition. While PUBG feels almost like a survival simulation, Fortnite is whimsical and silly, contrasting PUBG's drab brown and grey landscape with a rich variety of colors. Fortnite's map is also noticeably smaller, creating more chances for heavy combat and less opportunity for players to wander around aimlessly. For PUBG's part, they are trying to remedy this by making a smaller map themselves, but the game's developers can't seem to keep up with their rivals. This is due to the level of detail involved in each game and the ridiculous amount of freedom that Epic has been giving its developers.
All things considered though, PUBG still has a loyal fanbase and will probably continue to be one of the more popular games available. That being said, if things continue on their current trajectory, Fortnite will continue to dominate the spotlight. While there's always the opportunity for other major gaming studios to get in on the battle royal action, right now these are the only two games out there getting it done. Both are innovative in there own way, and both have earned their spots in video game history. The question of how long PUBG or Fortnite can maintain their current momentum is unanswerable, but one thing is for sure: when developers compete to make the best game, we all win.
Matt Clibanoff is a writer and editor based in New York City who covers music, politics, sports and pop culture. His editorial work can be found in Inked Magazine, Pop Dust, The Liberty Project, and All Things Go. His fiction has been published in Forth Magazine. -- Find Matt at his website and on Twitter: @mattclibanoff
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Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.