A game about survival for food. A game of high consequences. In 2008, Suzanne Collins released a book titled “Hunger Games” that followed a young adult female protagonist who volunteers to take her sister’s place in a mandatory death match enforced by “the capital”, the Elite society that controls the fictional world of Panem.
So what does it mean to transpose this narrative into a sandbox game such as Minecraft? Can it even be called “Hunger Games”?
The questions we must ask before we begin our construction of a quote-on-quote “Hunger Games” arena are as follows:
What is Hunger Games? What makes Hunger Games, Hunger Games? Is it the narrative, the characters, the atmosphere, the environments? Can we simply reduce it to a Player-versus-player all out death match? How can we recreate the true essence of “Hunger Games” within Minecraft—is it even possible?
I found that often the hashtag “Hunger Games” is included in conjunction with multiple others. This use of Tags lures Hunger Games fan into joining a server that promises them the “Hunger Games” experience. The use of “Hunger Games” encourages fans to flock to the server. Could these servers only be “survival” games which have existed for a long time but are now under the guise of “Hunger games” as a means to encourage more players to join?
Commenting on my ideas on “Hunger Games” as a hashtag, Nic Watson says;
“Interesting how some of the graphic banners on that list show a subset of tags that doesn’t include ‘Hunger Games’, but ‘Hunger Games’ is in the text tags. Like they want to make it show up in HG searches but not actually promise HG. Maybe we should look at what tags are collocated with HG tags. Perhaps that could go under ‘variants’”
The “Hunger Games” games are usually included with various other mini games on one server including various PVP arenas, and Sky Block.
These are example of PVP/Hunger Game-like servers found under the tag “hunger games”:
However, this last server is a little different from the other PVP servers above and specifies team work in order to win:
“Minecraft The Walls is a very unique server type. 4 teams divided by a walls that keep peace for the first 15 minutes of the game. During this first 15 minutes all the players on each team are given a specific class that allows them to help their team in different ways. For instance the alchemist can create potions for their team for when the walls drop. or the blacksmith that can forge weapons and armor using their anvil. Below each team spawn there are mines to be explored and resources to be exploited. Team work is crucial to winning this game as each player has a unique role. The last team to survive after the walls drop, wins the game” (The Walls).
Names and titles take on a life of their own online, both explaining the context and enticing players. But what can we say about these games that may not really be “Hunger Games” portrayals, but just PVP games using the hashtag Hungergames?
These servers are mainly focusing on the battle arena, the all-out district war (The annual Hunger Game) while overlooking everything else about the novel. In this way, what makes them any different from PVP?
In my graduate class we read sections from Michel Foucault. “What is an Author?” brings up a valid argument and question about the way players are using the key words Hungergames.
Consider this: are we, and everyone else who tags their Minecraft server, using the “author function” as a way to gain credibility and legitimization? What are we promising when we assign the hashtag #Hungergames to our game servers?
Foucault explains that “such a name [the author’s name] permits one to group together a certain number of texts, define them, differentiate them from and contrast them to others […] establish a relationship among the texts” (227).
When talking about transmedia narratives, Game scholar Henry Jenkins explains that “Audience familiarity with this basic plot structure [read: knowledge of the narrative] allows script writers to skip over transitional or expository sequences, throwing us directly into the heart of the action” (Jenkins 120). While franchises create Transmedia narratives, Minecraft can work as a form of fan generated transmedia narrative that allows players to interact with aspects of the media they normally would not have access to. However, most of these #Hungergames servers reduce the narrative to a single moment: the arena battles—we are literally thrown into the “heart of the action”, however, are we trivializing the rest of the novel that looks into inequality, poverty, capitalism, et ect? Without a deeper understanding of the consequences (are there any consequences in an online game?) of the “Hunger Games” as portrayed in Collin’s book, can we actually be anything more than a PVP using a hashtag as a function to obtain and entice players?
What are we doing to Suzanne Collin’s “Hunger Games” novel by thus tagging these PVP servers? What can we do to create a more authentic server? Is it even possible to create a server worthy of the term “Hunger Games”?
In my next post I will look at a few ways we could construct our server with these questions in mind.
Foucault, Michel. “What is an Author”.
Jenkins, Henry. “Convergence Culture : Where Old and New Media Collide”. New York: New York University Press, 2006.