What did the first ever Hunger Games look like?

I'm looking for answers from the movies or books.


1 Answer 1


We don't know.

The books are all written from Katniss's point of view, and the films never go back in time to show past Games. In the first book, we learn a little about the history of the Games and how they started:

Then came the Dark Days, the uprising of the districts against the Capitol. Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth obliterated. The Treaty of Treason gave us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated, it gave us the Hunger Games.

The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins.

But nothing specifically about the first Games. We also learn a bit about relatively recent past Games, one which teenaged Katniss can remember watching: the one where Johanna Mason won, for example, and one with a psycho cannibal tribute called Titus. But of course Katniss isn't old enough to have seen the first Games.

In the second book, we learn more about older Games, including the fiftieth where Haymitch won. But, in their preparation for the Quarter Quell, Katniss and Peeta are never seen going back as far as the first Games; its victor, whoever he or she was, is most likely dead by now.

"Effie's sending me recordings of all the living victors. We're going to watch their Games and learn everything we can about how they fight. We're going to put on weight and get strong. We're going to start acting like Careers. And one of us is going to be victor again whether you two like it or not!" [...]

Every night we watch the old recaps of the Games that the remaining victors won. [...] Adjusting for age, I realize some of our opponents may be elderly, which is both sad and reassuring. Peeta takes copious notes, Haymitch volunteers information about the victors' personalities, and slowly we begin to know our competition. [...]

In the history of the Games, there have been seventy-five victors. Fifty-nine are still alive. I recognize many of their faces, either from seeing them as tributes or mentors at previous Games or from our recent viewing of the victors' tapes. Some are so old or wasted by illness, drugs, or drink that I can't place them. [...]

The tapes are marked with the year of the Games and the name of the victor. [...] "Is the person who won in twenty-five in here?" I ask.

"I don't think so. Whoever it was must be dead by now, and Effie only sent me victors we might have to face."

Most likely even Katniss doesn't know what the first Games were like. She only watched each year's current Games because it was compulsory, and only watched past Games to know her competition for the Quarter Quell; surely she never spent time watching past Games on television for entertainment, so there's no reason she would ever have seen footage of the first Games.

From the OP:

Was it like how on YouTube terror assassinations go down, or did they lock them in dangling prisons on top of a volcano and drop them in, or was it some other way?

I don't know what "Youtube terror assassinations" are or how they look, but presumably the Games started as they were intended to continue: two dozen kids locked into an arena to fight each other to the death. There's no indication that the Games ever looked like assassinations or executions: they are, as the name suggests, "games": contests between unwilling participants.

  • 1
    (+1) Re: "its victor, whoever he or she was, must be long dead": Not necessarily dead -- and especially not necessarily long dead. We know that only 16 past victors have died yet (by that point), and more specifically, we know that the victor of the 11th Games, Mags Flanagan, is still alive. So it's clear that many victors live for many decades after their Games. Most of them are not mentioned individually; there's not much reason to assume that the victor of the 1st Games isn't one of them.
    – ruakh
    Sep 15, 2019 at 22:00
  • @ruakh if these are the 75th games, the victor of the first must be 91 years old at least. Not impossible but unlikely to still be alive if we assume people die at roughly the same age brackets as they do now. Flanagan would be around 80, quite possible.
    – jwenting
    Sep 16, 2019 at 4:56
  • @jwenting: 75 - 1 + 12 = 86, so I'm not sure why you say "91 years old at least". And I'm not sure it's legit to "assume people die at roughly the same age brackets as they do now"; is that assumption compatible with the known fact that 59 of the 75 victors are alive?
    – ruakh
    Sep 16, 2019 at 6:15
  • @ruakh was going on an average age estimate of 16 for the contenders. And yes, if 59 are still alive, assuming they're mostly the later ones, that'd make the oldest 59+17 = 75 years old at most. Which is about the average life expectancy for a US male, few years below the average life expectancy for a US female.
    – jwenting
    Sep 16, 2019 at 6:26
  • @ruakh Fair enough: it's likely but not certain. I've edited to clarify.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Sep 16, 2019 at 7:11

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