IMHO: A Hunger Games Video Game Will Never Happen
Despite Lionsgate Films stating otherwise and many people repeatedly claiming they would buy a Hunger Games video game, someone has to say what must be said: No retail store would ever carry a good video game, and you won’t buy a safe digital incarnation of the story.
As I think about different ways that a game could be developed, there is simply no way that a game based on the movie or the book of Hunger Games could ever work. For this brief article, I will run through several types of games and explain why they wouldn’t work.
Unfortunately, I would actually play some of these games, but the games that I would play would get blacklisted from retail shelves. And the games that would get a Teen or Mature rating would be so utterly boring that no one would buy it.
True to the Movie/Book
The most obvious tie-in video game is one that follows the plot or its source material, adding a few things here or there to keep things interesting.
Attempting to avoid spoilers, Hunger Games is not exactly a mile-a-minute action title. While the action sequences are intense, the film and book’s draw comes from its subtle approach to a psychologically trying experience.
So for an action or adventure game,Hunger Games would make a fairly boring experience.
So, we must examine the game from other genres – in particular, the stealth and platform genres.
Metal Gear Solid proved that players could enjoy stealth-based games, but the franchise moved into more action routes with every subsequent release, suggesting that players are no longer interested in sneaking away from action.
And for a tie-in video game, the actions of other genres becomes very important. I can’t think of a single tie-in game that did something different than the industry as a whole. Even profound games like I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream did not stray too far away from tried-and-true methods.
If a developer approached the publisher and Lionsgate with an idea for a stealth-based game with very little action, the sale would be very hard. What other AAA games focus on stealth for the entire game and offer the player little to no action?
Still, I doubt a major company would gamble on the success of a stealth game.
Worse than a stealth game would be a platformer. Let’s face it, the days of Hook and Aladdin are long gone. While hopping from tree to tree would be intensely satisfying, the game would be relegated to a digital release. Even Madagascar 3 had a retail video game. And the only thing that flopped worse than Battle: LA was its digital-only video game.
Now, some of you are asking, “Why can’t an action game work?” Besides the fact that the game would be forced to add far more action than is actually in the film or book just to keep players interested, tell me one major developer interested in making a game where players kill or are witness to the killing of nearly two dozen teenagers.
An industry that just barely won its battle for free speech should not jump at the opportunity to offer players a chance to witness the death of teenaged characters for the players’ entertainment.
Even without showing blood, the death of any of the younger kids in the game would likely earn the game an Adults Only rating. What’s the last AO game you saw at GameStop?
In fact, I can’t think of a single game that shows a younger character dying. In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, children can’t die or be injured. In Grand Theft Auto, playgrounds remain empty. In Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, only adults walk the streets of Istanbul.
No matter how it’s explored, a major release based on Hunger Games could not be true to the source material, as it would never get off the ground.
While having this discussion with family, my 15-year-old niece suggested that the game could focus on the training part ofHunger Games. Rather than getting into the actual games and showing the death of many children, the game could narrow its focus to the hunting at the beginning or the training camp mid-way through the film and book.
However, this mini-game focus would bore most players. Eventually, players would ask, “Why is this called Hunger Games when there are no actual Games in it?”
Every review would rail against the game neglecting to include the most-desired part of the game.
While the game would easily score an Everyone to Teen rating, the sales would come from non-gamer parents and grandparents trying to impress their children. And quickly, the game would find itself in the budget bin at every major retailer.
So in order to reach the sales that a major franchise deserves, the game needs to appeal to modern tastes and trends.
One exciting prospect comes from the idea of an online version of the Games.
Players could build their own characters, enter a lobby, and compete with other live players. To add an element of persistence, players could choose a District to receive special perks, and throughout a player’s experience, he can relish in a level of dominance coming from his District, based on final scores.
Like MAG or Gotham City Imposters, players can only enjoy the game through its online element. At no point does a player kill a fictional teenaged character, as every avatar on the screen represents a real person with equal chances of winning.
Unfortunately, this type of game means that players will never get a chance to fill the shoes of the main characters in the game, unless a training simulator (see above) offered offline entertainment and challenges. Hardcore fans of the franchise would complain that the game feels incomplete without Katniss or Peeta.
Somehow, a game has to be made to make everyone happy. A game has to be able to stay true to the franchise without drawing any controversy and sell enough copies to justify being made at all.
Sadly, it seems the only hope for Hunger Games comes from the tired LEGO franchise.
These games continue to come out because they are fun, if a little repetitive. Other action titles were able to find success in the pantomime humor of the plastic LEGOs, including Star Wars, Batman, and Harry Potter.
In a LEGO game, the entire plot could be preserved with slight additions to make the game more playable, and no one would complain about the death of any of the children, since the deaths would be cartoonish and funny.
And with the continued success of the LEGO franchise, one game could come out for each movie, rather than waiting for the entire trilogy to release before making the game.
Sure, I wouldn’t buy it, and most hardcore gamers would pass on the game. But if it showed up under your decorated evergreen tree, would you honestly pass on it? Like the other LEGO games in your collection, you would play and enjoy the game without complaint until your friends teased you about it.
If a Hunger Games video game will ever be made, Traveller’s Tales is the only studio that can make it.
As you’re reading this, you’re screaming into your computer that I’m missing this idea or that idea. Well, if you can explain your idea without ruining the story of Hunger Games or its sequels, leave a comment.
There’s no such thing as a wrong hypothetical situation. Who knows? If your idea is good enough, maybe it will get ripped off by Lionsgate and a Hunger Games video game could come out by next summer.