The Games People Play…

Not long ago, I succumbed to the hype and read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. The brief review I’d read of the movie release did enough to convince me that it was a premise I’d find interesting: the human condition and how far we are prepared to stretch our own moral truths to survive and, indeed, thrive.

And it was a great story, gritty and fast-paced. In fact, so absorbed was I that I forgot that the protagonist is only 16 years old. Her story is riveting as she grows to face an adult world of expectation well beyond her own experience in the impoverished District 12. 

But here’s what struck me most – the concept of the game.

The game is something that has grown to become part of our landscape with all the gadgets a heart might desire to make imagined worlds come to life. I remember the original Dungeons and Dragons and in my twenties, I got completely hooked on Riven and Myst thanks to a boyfriend of the time. Then life took me away from gaming until about eight years ago when a close association with a couple of teenagers (and another rather older “adolescent”) introduced me to The Sims, Runescape and World of Warcraft. And haven’t games all come a long way – so life-like. So real that the imagined and real worlds blur. And a player’s highest praise is that they can lose themselves and escape from reality.
Like all of those spectators in The Hunger Games.

But it’s not the first time I’ve found myself wondering about games of the people kind. As I read Collins’ tale, I was taken back over 20 years to another book, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. This tale follows a group of English school boys deserted on an island, their attempts at creating their own society to survive and the savage power plays that lead to  not only the deaths of Simon and Piggy, but also the “young gentlemen’s” rules by which they had always played.

At the end of the book, the boys are rescued but in reading those final pages, I couldn’t help wondering whether it had all been part of some big experiment by the adults. And in re-reading the book again after The Hunger Games, the parallels between the two “themes” seemed even more obvious – what does the veneer of society actually hide?

To my mind The Hunger Games reads like Lords of the Flies sexed up for the World of Warcraft generation. But maybe I’m reading too much into it. What do you think?

Do you think the games we play reveal something of the way we would like our future to be or more about our “deep, dark past”?

2 thoughts on “The Games People Play…

  1. I haven't read the hunger games, but I did dabble with many computer games in my teens to late twenties. From the early Ultima's to Final Fantasy I must have spent hours on Role playing games. Looking back, it seems a waste of time, but it never felt like it.

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