With the imminent release of Hogwarts Legacy and Gotham Knights, there are plenty of games out there that harness the potential of pre-existing worlds to (hopefully) forge engaging stories and entertaining gameplay. The former explores a setting that has largely gone unnoticed in the AAA sphere, as Hogwarts and its environs are ripe for new stories to tell, and few games have truly taken advantage of them. Another example of such a place is Panem, the remnants of the United States in which the beloved hunger games books and movies take place.
The hunger Games is a trilogy of books by author Suzanne Collins, which quickly caught on with audiences after the first was made into a film in 2012 starring Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth. The titular event is a tournament in which each of Panem’s twelve districts features two children to face off in a fight to the death. It has been reproduced in the likes of Minecraft, although there has yet to be a major video game adaptation of Collins’ Coronation. That should change, as the property has a handful of features that would be perfect for gaming.
Panem is the home of the Hunger Games
Immersive open worlds cost a penny in 2022, and many have created a setting in which it’s enjoyable to simply exist. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in Los Santos in Auto grand theft 5, it is becoming commonplace to invent or reinvent pre-existing places in which a life-size AAA game can take place. Panem has the potential to sit alongside such parameters, as it is steeped in history that has shaped much of its customs and laws. The rebellion of District 13, the oppressive nature of the Capitol, and the smaller, more complex stories in each of the recognized districts that the Capitol relies on so heavily are all attractive elements that can serve to heighten a fantasy story.
World-building is very important, and having considerable threat to make each stage feel consequential can help make the characters’ journey even more heroic. The Capitol is made up of an oppressive, self-centered, interdependent and deeply pretentious bunch to have everything, and the neighborhoods around it are really only there to make the lives of the lucky few even better. Like Midgar in Final Fantasy 7, Panem is the mercy of a higher power that has no interest in improving the lives of those it rules. It’s a proven formula in the world of video games, but The hunger Games has not yet entered the industry with real success.
The Battle Royale genre is ripe for The Hunger Games
While the third book in the trilogy deals with the ever-looming threat of the Capitol and the oppression it enforces, the first two novels focus on the titular Hunger Games. With 24 “tributes” and a limited rulebook when it comes to how to eliminate other fighters, the format is far from new. movies like battle royale and even mountaineer offer a similar ethos, and the influx of like-minded games is something the industry just can’t ignore. Fortnite and Player Unknown: Battlegrounds conquered the world, and Call of Duty: Warzone did well to improve on what was before.
There’s something exciting about being in the latter parts of a Battle Royale game, and while the consequences of losing a match in Fortnite are much less than they are in The hunger Games, the feeling of being on the verge of victory is both satisfying and terrifying. A hunger games title would ride the wave of a genre that shows no signs of stopping, while potentially bringing fans of the property into a genre they otherwise wouldn’t know. Mechanically, The hunger Games is a perfect fit for video games, and a AAA title within the franchise could use a lot of its own elements like Harvest and Opening Ceremony to make it stand out.
Anyone can be a hero in The Hunger Games
Katniss Everdeen, although skilled with a bow, is quite an average person at the start of The hunger Games, although it slowly becomes something exceptional as the story progresses. The same can be said for Peeta, Finnick and Haymitch, the latter carrying his character flaws with him long after his success at Second Quarter Quell. A hunger games title take the same path Hogwarts Legacy made with its custom characters, it would be easy to incorporate player creations into a story, taking them from relative obscurity to a winner of the Games or even the savior of Panem himself.
Character development could be seamless, and RPG elements like a player-created protagonist with a pre-selected backstory would fit nicely. It could have been anyone in Katniss’ place, and every passing Hunger Games event makes normal people a hero. The first book is set during the 74th Games, so aside from a few that tie into other supporting characters, there are different years that could be central to the story. The Ballad of Songbirds and Serpents fills in some of the gaps of President Snow’s youth, but there’s so much more history that could be explored in a game that it’s hard to see why it hasn’t been done yet.
Good game design isn’t just about complex combat mechanics. Many titles in the AAA space rely on the settings they create and the innovations they bring to environment and presentation as well as gameplay. The hunger Games is one of the few properties that is sorely underrepresented in the game compared to its potential, so the fact that there is no big budget project in Panem yet is very frustrating for fans of the IP, as it might steal support for something special.
MORE: The Moral Challenges of Making a Hunger Games Video Game