Forgive me, I had not heard of The Hunger Games before I posted an item about Canabalt's creator and mentioned he was making an iPhone game coinciding with the film's release. That was a week ago. Since then, I could not avoid the topic if I tried, and not just because of its understandable appeal to video gamers.
That kind of saturation-induced weariness is evident in this public radio editoralist's bemoaning of "inevitable" video game spinoffs of The Hunger Games, and the potentially disturbing effects they could have on adolescent kids, for whom this series is written. It is, after all, a story centred on children hunting each other (in a dystopian future).
To that I say, "inevitable"?
If the kind of full-bore "single-shooter" (does he mean "first-person"?) experience that KPCC-FM's Matthew DeBord describes was being developed under a Hunger Games licence, a) it probably would have released concurrently with the film, and none has, and b) even the most slapped-together movie adaptation is probably going to take a year to bring to market. Let's say some shovelware publisher is already all over this, and Scholastic and author Suzanne Collins do the deed. When that game arrives, is it really going to exploit the kind of interest that DeBord imagines?
Yes, there will be sequels to this film. I don't think it's a fait accompli that one of them gets the full-size video game adaptation treatment. Who knows, maybe Scholastic and Collins understand the potential damage that could be done when their story is now the interactive hunting and killing of children, instead of the (somewhat) sanitised presentation of it. Perhaps they don't want their names on or their franchise harmed by something that could be so easily reduced in a mainstream news controversy and utterly misunderstood.
DeBord himself concedes that the browser-based games and Hunger Games: Girl on Fire — Adam Saltsman's adaptation for mobile devices — are "relatively mild" and, in the case of Girl on Fire "kiddie friendly". Still, DeBord says, "The bottom line is that money will be made on stuff that isn't the movie. And that raises some real issues about whether that money is being made on follow-on entertainment that really good for kids." I think he's gone up the stair to meet a man who isn't there.