A fight to the death involving a large group of people is usually only something we find in fiction. Take, for example, the inspiration for Fortnite, the Japanese movie “Battle Royale”, or numerous Hollywood films in which encumbered folks have to navigate a post-apocalyptic world.
The most recent that springs to mind is the almost silent movie, “A Quiet Place.” We could also mention any number of zombie movies or TV shows such as, “The Walking Dead.” Humans are clearly fascinated with such scenarios! But could this actually happen in this day and age, outside of fiction? That’s what we’ll find out today, in this episode of the Infographics Show, Could Fortnite happen in real life?
First of all, you could say that for some animals, their entire life is a survival scenario. We of course, are animals, but civilized animals. Society precludes us from daily violence, pertaining to survival at least. When we were hunter/gatherers, that may not have been the case, but when resources are around, humans are generally not killing machines. But what happens when we don’t have enough to go around?
We might look at the story behind the 19th-century painting called, “The Raft of Medusa.” It’s based on a truly horrifying event. In 1816, the frigate Medusa ran aground off the coast of West Africa. The sailors decided that the best thing to do was to build a raft and have it towed by the lifeboats. Only the people in the lifeboats didn’t trust those on the raft and they cut the ropes, leaving 147 men stranded in the ocean.
The men had little food or water, and soon they began to fight. In fact, some killed on that raft, but unlike Fortnite, there was no place to hide. Even more grisly, is that those that survived, some at least, nourished themselves by eating the dead. When the raft was picked up after 13 days, there were only 15 people alive, and five of them would die soon after. We could call this a real-life survival scenario, and what we know from this tale is that when it comes to the crunch, we’ll do just about anything to survive, including eating each other.
Now, there have been other similar cases throughout the history of mankind, but it’s often the case that people only ate their dead companions, rather than killing them. Such a case is that of the Donner Party, a large group of American pioneers that got stuck somewhere in the California-Nevada mountains in 1846. First, they ate the dogs, then the dead, but some people believed that others were secretly killed for food.
We might also look at the story of gold prospectors in 1874 that ran out of food in the mountains near Colorado. Out of five men, only one man called Alferd Packer returned. He admitted to eating the dead, but also admitted that he had killed one of the group out of self-defense.
Or take the Franklin Expedition, in which 134 men set-off from London in 1850 to map the Northwest Passage from Europe to Asia. They had prepared and had years’ worth of food, but got lost. Many men, it’s thought, died of disease, and some of lead poisoning, due to the canned food. But it later turned out, after bodies were examined, that some of the dead had been eaten by other men. To this day, no one really knows what happened on the expedition, as everyone died. We very much doubt what did happen is what is portrayed in the TV show, “The Terror.” But who knows?
Lastly, we might look at the Siege of Leningrad, a German blockade that resulted in over a million-people dying in the 1940s in the Soviet Union. Parts of the public had nothing to eat, and it’s well-known some people turned to cannibalism. A nursery rhyme from this awful time finished like this:
“I’ll need a little baby.
I’ll take the neighbours’,
Steal him out of his cradle.”
It’s said mothers would not allow their kids to go out at night lest they be stolen and eaten. After it was over, the Soviet government arrested over 2,000 cannibals, some of whom were said to be corpse eaters and others, people-eaters, meaning they killed someone before they ate them. Most of the cannibals were women with children, and few had criminal records. It’s thought they were just trying to stay alive and keep their kids alive. Only 44 in the end were said to have murdered for their meat.
What we are trying to point out with these stories is that when things get really bad, some people won’t just lay down and die. They will kill for food, and they will even eat each other if starving.
Could that happen in today’s world?
It’s highly unlikely, but there is a slim chance groups could get lost at sea or be deserted on an island or in the jungle or mountains. A deadly virus breakout could result in social chaos as the sick are separated from the healthy. Still, the government isn’t heartless enough to leave people starving. The only real possibility of a Fortnite-style survival scenario happening would be total collapse of society, better known as the apocalypse. We must imagine a cataclysmic event so huge it really must be every man for himself, or at least, every group for themselves.
Just how much of a killer would you be in that situation?
Well, one study that assessed 1,024 mammal species came to the conclusion that the animal that is the most murderous by a long shot is…you guessed: us, humans. “Our violence operates far outside the bounds of any other species. Human beings kill anything,” said the study.
If a survival scenario were to happen, we might have enough food for a while, and even be able to cultivate food, because we’re clever. But the main concern is that we humans are fearful and paranoid, and many of us are territorial, greedy and unethical. We might not resort to cannibalism if we don’t have to – it seems obvious we would if times were dire – but it is our intelligence that would make us fearful of others and want to gain as much power as possible so as to create a feeling of safety.
The study also found that violence was much more common among bands of tribes and chiefdoms, and less so in civilized society. But if the apocalypse came, we would start off as bands of tribes forming small communities. It seems highly unlikely that if one community ran out of food, they wouldn’t contemplate theft and perhaps the wholesale murder of another community. The study says there is a “genetically-predisposed propensity of people to kill each other,” but it is society that holds us back. Take that away, take away our daily bread, and we might just get a lot more violent.
A researcher who talked about the study in the Guardian recently said, “The main message of our study is that no matter how violent or pacifist we were in the origin, we can modulate the level of interpersonal violence by changing our social environment.”
To conclude, it all depends on our environment. If the conditions were right and resources were so scarce, then indeed a Fortnite scenario could take place. Only we would likely be in small tribes rather than going at it alone, and of course we wouldn’t all have fancy weapons and magical building prowess. It would be more like Fortnite teams. On the other hand, human empathy and kindness is a great thing, and if the conditions allowed us to build and maintain land, hunt, farm, etc, we might not be so murderous. We have the potential to kill, but we might not use it. Let’s hope we never have to.
So, do you think you could survive the apocalypse? Would you eat people if there was nothing else available, or would you rather just die? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called Fortnite vs PUBG: Which Battle Royale is the best! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!