Losing Fire

After reading all three books of “The Hunger Games” Trilogy, I feel like I need to write an addendum to my previous post about them. You see, I realized that most of the stuff I have written in that post actually only applies to the very first book.

To give you an idea what I’m talking about (spoilers), the second book kicks off by having the PRESIDENT OF TEH WORLD come over to the female protagonist and literally tell her which boy she is allowed to kiss, or else. I kid you not. The president of the world apparently has nothing better to do than to have an army of spies follow a teenage girl around so they find out which boy she kissed. So he can then come over with the evidence in hand and call her out about which boy she really, truly loves. And that would be actually a funny story except it’s dead serious. By the end of the third book they are dropping bombs on a group of children.

I had no idea that this is whee the story was going so I initially ran with it. But after some time it became evident that the series tried to step up the drama and lost everything in the process. The first book started out as a personal underdog story of a simple girl coming to the big town to find out how much ass she can kick. In the following two books the plot gets inflated to epic proportions. Suddenly, there is a rebellion! People get executed on streets. War breaks out. The world order is at stake. People take sides. Villages getting bombed.

And suddenly, that personal story doesn’t really work anymore. When people are getting killed left and right, I find it very hard to really care about which boy the protagonist will end up with or what kind of dress she is wearing. That’s the problem with every fictional war story, isn’t it? In order to have it work, you need to commit an act of fictional racism in you head. You need to suspend your disbelief that some characters in the book are pretty much sub-humans and it’s kinda ok if they die. At least not as bad as if – say – the protagonist’s cat died.

In that regard, The Hunger Games reveals it’s affiliation with books like Twilight. It depicts a entire world where everybody seems to be intensely obsessed about the petty, trivial hardships of a single white teenage girl. And what was initially a kickass female protagonist becomes a bundle of self-doubt and insecurity, pretty much like Twilight’s blank slate. To give you an idea: in the very last book, the protagonist leaves pretty much every action scene with some form of injury she must recover from in hospital. It happens like 5 times. I guess she’s got some incredible health insurance.

And all the gaming parallels I was talking about? Yeah, they are pretty much gone by beginning of the third book.

I’m still curious on how the movies will turn out. Perhaps now even more so. I suspect they will weed out a lot of filler to get it on screen. I can imagine the first two books of being able to yield a good flick, mainly because of plenty opportunities for action scenes. I’m completely clueless on how the 3rd could ever work. It’s just so dark and there is just not really anything happening. I certainly don’t want to be in that director’s/screenwriter’s shoes. Let’s wait and see.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

2 responses to “Losing Fire”

  1. Jorge Albor

    I also read the trilogy, recommended to me by a friend, and I’m in total agreement here. However, I think the sudden turn to the dark and traumatic at the end of the third book is incredibly interesting, particularly considering this is young-adult novel. This girl comes out severely messed up and irrevocably damaged by the war, as does her partner. Katniss shares nothing with Twilight’s lead at the end of each series. The author was way out of her league of the war story writing, but at least she took readers somewhere unexpected for the genre.

  2. Krystian Majewski

    I agree. from the perspective of “how does this fit into a young-adult novel”, there are some interesting aspects. For example the 1st world / 3rd world divide, the depravity and artificiality of reality television. Generally, the idea of being honest to yourself in a world where everybody expects you to essentially become a brand. These were among the things that interested me in the series in the first place.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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