One of the most significant issues with content belonging to the survival game subgenre is how overly complicated the games can be around which their narratives are based. Dong-hyuk Hwang, the writer-director of ‘Squid Game,’ negated all that by using simple children’s games to tell his story. Furthermore, five out of the six games he used in season 1 are universally recognizable, allowing the international audience to connect with the story easily. The contestants play only one game that is truly native to South Korea: the eponymous Squid Game. If you are wondering why Hwang chose to include that particular game in the story and why he named the entire show after it, we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Why Is It Called Squid Game? What is its Meaning?
In the first sequence of the pilot episode, the protagonist Seong Gi-hun (Jung-jae Lee), serving as the narrator, recalls his childhood when he used to play Squid Game with his neighborhood friends, including Cho Sang-woo. This allows Hwang to give an exposition about the game to the show’s international audience. The players are divided into two teams: the offense and the defense. During the game, the defenders can use both their feet to move around within bounds, but the attackers can only hop on one leg outside the line. If an attacker gets through the defense line at the waist of the squid, the former is allowed to play on their two feet. This position was called “The Secret Inspector” by Gi-hun and his friends.
The final round of the game involves the attackers gather at the entrance of the squid. To win, one of the attackers has to get one of their feet into the small closed-off space on the head of the squid. The defenders can win if they manage to shove the attackers out of the Squid’s line.
Hwang stated in an interview that he wanted to explore the modern capitalist society through a fairytale-type story in ‘Squid Game.’ “I wanted to write a story that was an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society, something that depicts an extreme competition, somewhat like the extreme competition of life,” he said. “But I wanted it to use the kind of characters we’ve all met in real life.” He purposefully kept the games “extremely simple and easy to understand” so that the viewers could invest themselves in the characters and not spend too much time trying to understand the games and their rules.
During an online press conference, Hwang gave his reasons for choosing Squid Game as the title of his show, revealing that it was his favorite game when he was young and that he thinks it’s the most physical of all children’s games. “I thought the game was a perfect metaphor of our highly competitive society. So ‘Squid Game’ was a perfect name for this series,” he elaborated.
Hwang expressed his hope that the viewers would be entertained after watching the show, and it would ease some of the stress of their daily lives. However, he also urged the viewers to look beyond the story’s surface and evaluate how life is in this highly competitive world.
Read More: Is Squid Game a True Story?