Mythological Ariadne didn’t construct the Minotaur’s labyrinth, Daedalus constructed it for her, she merely showed Theseus how to get out of it. But she didn’t need to: a classical labyrinth doesn’t have multiple dead ends; it is a single winding path that leads either in or out.
I’m working though this idea for the “multiplayer classroom”, if you like, it’s a step away from having a video game in the mix of delivering a subject. Hanging it on some content seemed logical, and I started with the Hunger Games, simply as I am tinkering with using it as a game within Massively Minecraft.
I started thinking about the themes, and where the author’s picked it from. It seem the idea of “do what we say, because we will do worse than kill you, we’ll kill your children” is causing a fuss among some teachers and librarians, whom I suspect have not read more than the synopsis and either refusing to allow it or fussing over it. In all reality, the theme is nothing new, appearing in multiple places in literature. There is a strong love theme, but it’s hardly more than a cuddle, and it boggles my mind at why some musty would think this would be a deal breaker for kids in year 5 or 6. Lets also remind ourselves that many kids (usually around 6) in any class of thirty are in someway gifted and talented and often only a few weeks younger than those in the year above, due to the cut-off dates we use. These kids are often bored and can easily work 1 or 2 years above the grade-age. Saying it’s not okay for year 6 or 7 isn’t a particularly astute comments.
Hunger Games isn’t that far away from most Fairy Tales, and a perfectly valid amplification of the reality television genre. If we take it to cyber fiction, as a game, it would be a close relative of The Matrix, Inception, which again draw from literature, not least the idea of Baudrillard. I might argue his essay – a “Conjuration of Imbeciles” works on multiple levels of digital culture, not least the fact that it’s easy to mistake the ‘designers’ of the future, from those who just point at it and send people into the labyrinth.
Hunger Games, in the hands of people who want to engage kids in learning about the world is a great book. It’s not always the best written book, but in terms of linking with classical, post modern, political fiction and so on, it is an entirely valid text. It’s also the biggest seller on Amazon.
All it takes is some imagination – and curriculum development. For example: It would be easy to compare Katniss to most Utopian themes or oppressive social nightmares. Then again, we could compare her to Marine Le Pen – or explore them around the idea in cyber fiction that the Global society will ultimately die of inertia and immune deficiency, unable to tell the real from the actual.
Arguing the Hunger Games isn’t appropriate is dumb. It might not be comfortable, or fit nicely into sensibilities, but clearly in the post cold-war society in love with reality TV – it’s a resonant and realistic text.