Fortnite.  It’s the biggest game in the world right now, and a fitting analogy for Libertarianism; complete with its flaws and misinterpretation.

As the latest development in the online shooter genre, Fortnite says more about the taste’s of those communities than most would admit. It reflects the development of toxic masculinity in these communities, while it’s broader appeal shows why these approaches are much less common than they used to be.

A Libertarian interpretation of Fortnite could read kind of logically. You find yourself alone in the world, with nothing but a hammer. You then build things for yourself, find weapons, and become completely self-reliant. Building yourself up as much as you can, based only on your own ability to scavenge and make the most of the world around you. Then, naturally, you murder anyone else you come across until you alone have all of the stuff and everyone else is dead.

But hey, that’s just how the world works right? Everyone does that, humans are selfish and Ayn Rand is great. Battle Royale games are the natural extension of the semi-Darwinist dialogue so present online shooters.

Be the best at building or shooting, make things for yourself and use it for survive. All while screwing over everyone else at any possible opportunity. In these basic terms, it demonstrates the fundamentals of the popular interpretation of Libertarianism. Gives more of an education on the subject than hours of reading a Rick and Morty subreddit. This isn’t an explanation of the nuances of Libertarianism as a whole, but the rampant misinterpretation that persists in gaming communities. It also reflects the flaws of this popular interpretation of the ideology.

Fortnite and the Perils of Libertarianism

Fortnite Libertarianism

Limited resources are scattered at random, how they are distributed is luck. The raw materials and resources that are available to you is based almost entirely on luck. There is strategy in prioritising how to gain resources, but luck plays a big role. Some can hit the jackpot upon landing, while others land next to another player who’s already found a shotgun. The playing field isn’t level at birth or landing. The survival of the fittest mentality a selective reading based on lucking out at landing.

Yes, its just a game. The mechanics exist to facilitate enjoyable gameplay rather than test sociological and political ideologies in groups of a hundred people. However, given it’s popularity it’s game play has political and sociological implications. Online shooters have long been the refuge of toxic masculinity, and the battle royal craze is it’s inevitable development. It has created the fantasy that a victory is an indication of doing more with the same resources. Something you earned outside of all other factors.

The Changing Face of Online Shooters

Fortnite Libertarianism

Online shooters have been famous for years for creating communities of toxic masculinity. A space where racial slurs are just normal conversation in game. The growing Alt-Right section of gaming is linked with this culture of bullying. Racism, ableism, misogyny, and homophobia are all widespread. The libertarian trappings of Battle Royale games appeal to these sections of the gaming community. It reflects the importance that these values are given in these communities. The sudden popularity of the Battle Royale genre reflects those toxic communities becoming increasingly drawn to online gameplay that reflects those values.

Fortnite can demonstrate some of the worst elements of online shooter communities with the fantasy it creates of self-made men, in a world of luck. It does the same for Libertarianism, showing the fantasy of building something in isolation while calling any advantage something you earned and any disadvantage to you is an unnecessary intrusion. Fortnite’s community isn’t all like that, on rare occasions players disregard the entire point of the game in favour of having fun and cooperating for a while. Showing that eventually, having fun together tends to win out.

The community that’s emerged around Fortnite is refreshing compared to that of most online shooters, the age demographic of its players and low barrier to entry has definitely helped. It’s still positive as a sign that the gaming community is moving past the toxic masculinity stage of online shooters.


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Jordan Ashley

Jordan Ashley lives in the middle of the UK with two dogs who routinely beat him on Mario Kart. He's a big fan of playing Wind Waker over and over again while ignoring all other tasks. He also likes Craft Beer and screaming at Splatoon.

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