By now, most of you would have heard about Russia’s latest reality show offering, Game2: Winter. With a title more befitting of a video game, one could easily mistake the show for just that, with a premise that sounds closer to fiction than to reality:
Game2: Winter will strand 30 contestants in the -40F (-40C) Siberian wilderness for nine months with the surviving winner receiving a $1.6m prize. It will stream 24/7 online.
“Each contestant gives consent that they could be maimed, even killed,” reads an advert. “2000 cameras, 900 hectares and 30 lives. Everything is allowed. Fighting, alcohol, murder, rape, smoking, anything.”
Sounding like a monstrous cross between The Hunger Games, Survivor, and The Truman Show, Game2: Winter may have people shaking their heads in disbelief but after the initial shock, is the idea of such a depraved reality show that hard to believe?
Dystopian visions of the future have entertained us for years. From Brave New World and 1984, to newer takes like Black Mirror and The Hunger Games series, we as an audience have eagerly consumed these stories, envisioning them as alternate futures that could never possibly become true in our comfortable present day.
We’ve continued to lap up the latest offerings in film and fiction, showing the big studios that they can continue to milk the genre for all it’s worth. The Hunger Games series alone has grossed almost $3 billion worldwide, paving the way for others of its kind, like The Maze Runner and Divergent series.
Other offerings, such as Black Mirror, serve not only as entertainment, but also as a warning of how disconnected we’ve become in an age where technology aims to connect us all. It’s a satirical look at how the dystopian futures we love to read about and watch are less of a distant future and more of a reality. We’ve brought these fantasies closer, giving power to the darker recesses of our imagination, and become desensitised to the genre as it becomes more and more oversaturated.
Oversaturation might explain why The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 didn’t perform as well as expected, earning $247 million of the $300 million it was expected to rake in. Although the number is still impressive, the thrill of the genre would be expected to die out with every rehashing of the same story. On the other hand, turning the genre into a reality in the form of Game2: Winter could have the opposite effect.
While there are reports suggesting the show may not actually be real, is the idea of a Hunger Games-esque Truman Show really all that surprising? In our age of reality television, it was inevitable that there would be a point when fiction would not be enough and the Black Mirror episode ‘Fifteen Million Merits’ would come closer to reality.
If the show does indeed come to fruition, what does it say about us as we sit by our screens and watch a group of people attempt to survive in the wilderness with a very real potential to harm each other, all in the name of infamy and money? Game2: Winter, should anything ever come of it, is a sign of our failure to heed fictional warnings against turning these dystopian ideas into reality.