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'Hunger Games'-Themed Video Game Teaches Social Justice on Lower East Side

By Lisha Arino | February 6, 2015 8:38am
'Hungercraft' Uses Minecraft and the 'Hunger Games' Series to Explore Social Issues
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Hive Learning Network NYC

LOWER EAST SIDE — A nonprofit organization is bringing its “Hunger Games”-themed video game — which aims to get young adults thinking about social justice issues — to the Lower East Side.

Global Kids Inc. will host a four-hour “game jam” at the Hamilton Fish Recreation Center on Saturday, where 20 teenagers can play “Hungercraft,” a modified version of "Minecraft" based on the popular book and film series, said Juan Rubio, the associate director of the organization’s Online Leadership Program.

“It’s just a really nice way to make [the topic] interesting [and] fun,” Rubio said. “We designed it to be something [teens] will really like to be a part of.”

The game takes place 75 years before the first Hunger Games, Rubio said. Panem, a North American nation in the series’ post-apocalyptic world, has just gone through a failed rebellion and must rebuild.

The teens are divided into two groups: District 12, which only has access to coal, and the resource-rich Capitol, which has an unlimited supply of precious metals, food and other items — except coal, which it needs to cook its meals.

In order for their communities to thrive, the groups must find a way to get the resources they need, Rubio said.

“The intention is that [the groups] will begin to engage in communication and exchange,” he said. The game has a trading room where the two groups can meet to swap items, he said, but they can also choose to attack each other for supplies.

Rubio said the game is meant to act as an “access point” into social justice issues like resource sharing and oppression, while fostering collaboration..

“We’re hoping to explore inequality. We’re also trying to explore the lack of resources in one community versus abundance in another set of communities. We want them to explore negotiation and communication and collaboration. How do you work together to come to a consensus in terms of creating a community?” he said.

Following the game, the Harry Potter Alliance, an activist group, will facilitate a discussion and talk about its “Odds in Our Favor” campaign against income inequality, Rubio said.

The game was developed by Global Kids Inc. in collaboration with MinecraftEdu and HiveNYC. Rubio said the group has held other game jams at the Brooklyn Public Library and the Bronx Museum for the Arts, but this is the first time "Hungercraft" will be played in the Lower East Side.

The “Hungercraft” game jam will take place on Feb. 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hamilton Fish Recreation Center at 128 Pitt St. The event is free and includes a pizza lunch. To register, click here.