How did the arenas in The Hunger Games series work?

  • Were they actual places, small-scale terraformed locales, or a sort of holodeck allowing for the seemingly omnipotent control by the Gamesmakers?
  • How did they record and broadcast the spectacle to the populace? It's not like The Truman Show where they can strategically place cameras and use "bystanders" as cameramen. Or were there cameras in all the things?

2 Answers 2


The arenas were actual places around Panem, but they were terraformed by the Capital and the Gamemaker. Each area was specifically crafted for strategic value or horror for the tributes and entertainment value for the viewer. No natural resource/weapon was there without the explicit forethought of the Capital. This figures in with the economy of viewers being able to purchase and send supplies or weapons for their favorite tributes.

The size of each arena is never accurately revealed to the reader.

The arena in the 75th games (the second book) is seemingly smaller than the other arenas and the tributes are able to actually find the "edge".

I don't have specific quotes available, but I seem to recall them explaining that some cameras were built into or hidden in objects for perspective shots, but that most of the cameras were essentially remotely controlled flying drones. This allowed the Capital to more efficiently follow the action no matter where the tributes went.

  • 3
    Haymitch also found the edge in the previous quarter quell and used it to his advantage.
    – Ingmar
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 14:39

The first part of your question is mostly answered here (which is an answer to a similar, but not duplicate question). Each are different, real places, latter maintained as tourist attractions; however as your question suggests, they have probably been somewhat terraformed.

I don't have the text of the books available to me (I listened to them on audio), but as I remember, surveillance was mostly from the air. I don't remember the books going into a lot of details. I know that when Katniss is looking after Peeta in the forest, after his leg is injured, they hid in a cave to get away from the camera.

  • I'm pretty sure the camera got into the cave. How else would Haymitch know when to send the sponsor gifts when the proper amount of romancing has occurred?
    – fire.eagle
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 16:22
  • I thought Katniss made an effort to be more visible a times for just that reason -- but I could easily be wrong, it's been a while since I listened to the audio book. As @phantom42 mentioned, they probably had flying drones they could control remotely in addition to any overall survelliance from higher up, either satellites (if any were still functional), or blimps.
    – tcrosley
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 18:03
  • @fire.eagle, I just went to the movie this afternoon, and one time Katniss is up in a tree, they make a point of her looking into a knot of the tree where a limb has supposedly broken off, and it is actually a hiding place for a camera (they show a monitor with her looking into the camera at close range). So apparently they have cameras positioned all around the forest, where air surveillance would be more difficult. I don't remember this detail from the book, but since the author Suzanne Collins was involved in the production of the movie, it must be okay with her.
    – tcrosley
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 23:56
  • The actual construction of the arenas was hand-waved a bit in the books. To explain them visually for the movies, they expanded on Collins' description of some basic level of control such as implanted cameras, weapons and environmental control, to instead create an environment that could be modified almost at-will as needed by the Gamemakers to put on a good show (including "inserting" cameras as needed to get a good angle). As evidence, consider the muttations; the book implies that they'd been in the works for a long time. In the movie, they're created on a whim, and Seneca approves them.
    – KeithS
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 18:30

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