HungerCraft (A Hunger Games Social Experiment)
Students explore issues of social inequity as citizens of either the impoverished District 12 or the wealthy Capitol in this map based on The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Though the seat of Panem’s power, the Capitol is reliant on the production of resources from outlying districts, such as the coal produced in District 12, to produce food for their citizens. Will the two communities work together to produce enough food for everyone and live in peace, or will the imbalance of power lead to another uprising? HungerCraft is a project in association with GlobalKids, Brooklyn Public Library, and MinecraftEdu and has been the subject of several Minecraft Jam sessions since 2012. Objectives: Participants will be able to:
- Mine and craft in Minecraft
- Bring their existing knowledge of the Hunger Games into Minecraft
- Use Minecraft to explore the social inequities depicted within the Hunger Games
Time: 90 min minimum but more time is highly recommended
Suggested Lesson Plan:
Phase 1: HungerCraft Introduction (~15 min)
We suggest that students are given a brief introduction to the activity and the social context in which it takes place. Hungercraft is set just 75 years before the stories depicted in the Hunger Games trilogy; before the start of the first games, but after the rebellion and the destruction of District 13 which led to them. Here is a sample hook and some discussion questions to support it: Panem has just gone through a failed rebellion. Everyone has suffered. It’s time to rebuild. You will be sorted into groups - one for District 12 and one for the Capitol - and then set out to rebuild them. Pre-activity discussion questions:
- Who has read the books? Seen the movies? Which was better and why?
- Does the Capitol need the districts? Why?
- Do the districts need the Capitol? Why?
- What role do the Hunger Games play within their world? What is the Capitol afraid might happen if there were no Hunger Games?
- (if not already said) What led to the creation of the Hunger Games?
Note: Instructors may not want to mention that this activity will go beyond building to actually exploring the social inequities underneath their system.
Phase 2: Crafting Panem (at least 30 min)
For the next few hours, the youth will split into their teams, build their sections of Panem, begin to trade with the other group, and experience the inter-dependence and inequities within their relationship. How they respond, however, is up to them, and can not be predicted in advance. Afterwards, all will process the results. This is an experiment where students get to write the story through game play. Students are randomly assigned one of two groups - one for District 12 and one for the Capitol. They begin entering the world from the Neutral Zone and then teleporting to their separate homes. Students are tasked with using the available resources to rebuild their communities. Members of the Capitol have access to an unlimited supply of precious metals and whatever else they might need, with the exception of coal. District 12 will need to Mine to get their supplies, and will only have access to coal, wood, and sparse more. This is primarily a building phase and students should focus their efforts on that. Students should be permitted to assist one another and discuss. Instructors are advised to observe student interaction and gameplay to inform processing discussion. During this phase Health and Hunger will be turned off and there will be no weapons.
Phase 3: Conflict Begins (at least 30 min)
After the students have had time to build their community, the instructor will stop everyone using the Freeze command (see below for instructions) and announce that something has changed. Now players can be hurt and they need to eat to survive. In addition, there might be weapons to be found. The instructor should explain that while the Capitol has a supply of food, they don’t have the coal to cook it. While District 12 has coal, they don’t have any food to cook. Inform the students that at the Neutral location there is a supporting bartering and explain how it works. Instructor Advisement:
- Login to the game world as a Teacher
- Press 'P' or 'M' to access Teacher Menu
- Go to Player Settings (3rd button)
- Check Freeze students and make announcement
- Go to World Settings (2nd button)
- Click "Gamemode: ____" until it reads "Gamemode: Survival"
- When ready to resume play, return to Player Settings and uncheck Freeze students
In phase 3 students explore the new game dynamics and power dynamics. Maybe they will come up with an equitable way to share goods. Maybe the Capitol will use their weapons to force a trade more to their advantage. Maybe District 12 will storm the Capitol and try to steal the food. Maybe the Capitol will retaliate. The story told through their interaction will act as the basis for processing in phase 4. Optional: Game play can be frozen for mid-game processing and instructor-student check-in
Phase 4: Processing (15+ min)
Students are given the opportunity to process their experience through discussion with one another. Students are encouraged to draw from specific moments in their gameplay, related lessons, and their own lives. Sample Processing Questions:
- What is happening at this point in the game?
- How are you feeling?
- Is this game fair? Not fair? How do you know?
- TURN AND TALK - What’s going on in your head right now? First impressions?
- Share out something your partner said.
- So... what happened? (ask questions based on what happened)
- What role did you play? How did you help your team?
- Was this game fair? Why or why not?
- What was it like to have a whole group as an opponent?
- What are some other possible scenarios that could have played out?
- How do these issues relate to what you see in the world? To your own lives?
- What does it mean to control another person, another community or society? What does it mean to be controlled?
- How do inequalities come about? What does inequality mean?
- Are trades always equal?
- Aside from changing the distribution of resources, how would you make this world more fair?
External Link: Read more about Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games at The Hunger Games Wikipedia Webpage.