Minor spoilers for Squid Game throughout.

Squid Game is poised to be one of the biggest shows in Netflix history, topping the streaming charts across several global territories with its fascinating twist on an otherwise cliched premise. 456 broken people are brought together to compete in a twisted game where there are only two potential outcomes - ultimate victory or untimely death.

The first episode alone has hundreds of innocent people murdered in cold blood, left to bleed out on the artificial ground as fellow participants stamp over their warm corpses in a desperate bid to survive. Yet even above their own mortality sits a greater goal, a promise of monetary splendour that hangs above their sleeping quarters in a literal piggy bank.

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The sociopolitical message at the core of Squid Game isn’t subtle, it’s a deliberate examination of economic disparity that is growing more and more prevalent with each passing day in our own reality. The rich are in a position where money is no concern, and thus it can be used as a plaything to pit those less fortunate against one another in a morbid fight to the end.

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Squid Game

While the idea of everyday people murdering one another in pursuit of profit might seem like an outlandish premise, it’s surprisingly grounded given wealth is often the difference between life and death in reality. Millions in the United States doom themselves to an early grave due to a monstrous healthcare system, while families in the UK are left to go hungry as the government strips away welfare to fill its pockets and act like the country has never been better. This wealth disparity is also a huge social issue in South Korea, where both Squid Game and Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite are set. These stories are a ravenous attack on the modern political climate, unafraid of showing us how lower classes are becoming more and more disenfranchised as those above them hoard wealth for no reason other than greed.

Everyone in Squid Game is a victim, even if on the surface they seem like horrible people. Protagonist Seong Gi-hun is an irredeemable asshole who steals money from his diabetic mother while failing to pay his daughter’s child support, and even when he comes across untold riches, he blows it on gambling and is once again left with nothing. He turns to Squid Game out of greed, a drive to earn redemption in a world that has left him behind. Yet he’s also a victim of systemic oppression, a successful job cast aside as figures above him deemed his employment irrelevant. So he was left to stew in his own misery, his outlook on life growing darker and darker until he’s willing to throw it all away to a stranger on a subway platform.

Squid Game

The show is filled with people like this all with unique perspectives on life. There’s an elderly man with dementia and a brain tumor who has nothing left to live for, or a successful business man who has fallen prey to his own hubris. Rotten criminals with a love for violence bond with young women brought up in an environment defined by neglect and abuse, all thrown into a deathmatch where such insecurities are identified and used as flaws to take advantage of. While the opening episodes are defined by fear and subservience, later ones see participants become violent and desperate, willing to form groups and murder those who dare turn against them.

All of the masked figures that reside over this game are aware of how it all goes down, having seen the same song and dance time and time again as poor souls are doomed to oblivion purely to entertain those at the top. Death is at first viewed as a shocking horror, but our characters soon grow numb to it, knowing that people will need to be killed and left behind if they stand any chance of making it out alive. It’s Battle Royale but with a greater purpose, and a willingness to delve into how a situation like this changes people.

Squid Game

It’s disgusting, yet Squid Game eventually makes heroes out of villains, showing that Seong Gi-hun is capable of redeeming himself, learning to recognise his own flaws alongside others who come to terms with the person they’ve always wanted to be. This works both ways of course - some resort to murder, while others strive to protect those who wouldn’t stand a chance in the game otherwise - but it’s clear the rich underestimate the poor in Squid Game, with the idea of those tracksuit-clad idiots outsmarting the system seeming inconceivable. But they do, and those at the top get what they deserve. Despite this we’re forced to say goodbye to so many characters who don’t deserve to die, yet it’s accurate to the bloodthirsty nature of the real world, and how so many people who deserve to live are cast aside by a system that doesn’t care about them. They’re a single ant in a colony made up of billions, so you scrape their remains off the bottom of your shoe and move on.

I’m often left awestruck by our political reality. We exist in a world where the bad guys have won. Billionaires are in possession of wealth that could solve world hunger, global warming, and put a roof over the heads of all those in need of one - but they choose not to. Greed is an active choice, and acknowledgement that you don’t care about those beneath you and are oblivious to the societal struggles that the majority of people have to contend with. It makes me angry each and every day, and all we can do is get on with our lives and hope that something changes. It likely won’t, and I’m scared for the future, and Squid Game is a relatable glimpse into the most extreme of circumstances.

The rich have the power to make such twisted ideas come to fruition, and in some corners of the globe perhaps they already have, but watching poor people be continually taken advantage of under the guise of societal betterment is exactly what has made Squid Game such a phenomenon. It taps into the insecurities of the modern zeitgeist, even if most of the people watching have failed to realise that. There’s an inherent curiosity associated with human suffering, and being forced to think about how we’d survive if thrown into the same circumstances, whether we’d turn against friends and family to save ourselves or stick together to overthrow the very system that seeks to kill us. Squid Game is going to become influential if its popularity is any indication, and I hope future copycats don’t leave behind the core message that makes it so powerful.

We need to fight back against the rich and powerful, and not let the idea of wealth pull us apart when the true key to victory is our willingness to stick together. Let’s put Jeff Bezos and company in a game of ‘Red Light, Green Light’ and see how they like it.

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Biggest News - 11_30
The Biggest Gaming News For November 30, 2021 

Today’s stories feature updates on titles including Halo Infinite, Pokemon Go, and Stalker 2.

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