Apparently technology seems to be the Capitol's ultimate strength and means of oppression. What with the high speed transport, hover crafts, cutting edge weapons, satellite enabled communication and digital surveillance, the Capitol watches, monitors and controls simply everything.

However, could it have been the same for the Capitol seven and a half decades ago? Was the Capitol, even in those days, able to build those highly engineered Arenas for the Hunger Games considering the post-apocalyptic background?

As Wikipedia says, The Hunger Games is a 2008 science fiction novel by the American writer Suzanne Collins. It is written in the voice of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem in North America.

Though it's just some science fiction, I believe Suzanne Collins is not an author who would leave too many loose ends.

3 Answers 3


A bit of speculation and assumption, but I'm leading towards saying that they would have been able to build an Arena that had the majority of the functionality seen during the 74th and 75th Games.

There were still technological advances during the 75 years that the Hunger Games took place. Beetee (one of the Tributes in the 75th Games, and obviously a Games before that) was responsible for a number of them, such as the broadcast network:

"Our plan is to launch an Airtime Assault," says Plutarch. "To make a series of what we call propos--which is short for 'propaganda spots'--featuring you, and broadcast them to the entire population of Panem."

"How? The Capitol has sole control of the broadcasts," says Gale.

"But we have Beetee. About ten years ago, he essentially redesigned the underground network that transmits all the programming. He thinks there's a reasonable chance it can be done. Of course, we'll need something to air. So, Katniss, the studio awaits your pleasure."
Mockingjay - Chapter Three

That said, Panem, being comprised of the the Capitol and the Districts, existed before the Hunger Games came about. Unfortunately we're not given a timescale, but there's a brief bit of history at the beginning of the first book:

Just as the town clock strikes two, the mayor steps up to the podium and begins to read. It’s the same story every year. He tells of the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained. The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens. Then came the Dark Days, the uprising of the districts against the Capitol. Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth obliterated.
The Hunger Games - Chapter One

So the timeline seems to be:

  • Apocalypse (primarily natural disasters)
  • Panem is formed
  • Age of peace and prosperity (supposedly)
  • The Dark Days begin
  • The Twelve Districts are defeated, District 13 is destroyed
  • The Hunger Games begin

Given the description of the "apocalypse" I think it's reasonable to assume that they weren't devoid of technology when Panem was formed. By the end of the age of peace and prosperity, at the very latest, they were developing nuclear weapons, so they must have been relatively technologically advanced at that point.

Haymitch won the second Quarter Quell (the 50th Games) using one of the force fields intended to pen in the Tributes, so that technology existed at least 24 years before Katniss' first Games.

I think the most telling thing is that the Districts rebelled. That suggests that the Capitol was already capable of controlling them prior to the Dark Days, their defeat, and the start of the Hunger Games. The Districts weren't a result of their rebellion, they were what they were rebelling over; they were just sent back there, with an even worse punishment added on top, when they lost.

Unfortunately there really isn't that much information on the past Games, especially the earlier ones. Those that are described, other than the two that Katniss participates in, are those that contained Tributes who are still alive, and even then there were very few details.

  • Good answer. I am sure even Collins would agree with a lot of things you have said. But I am going to wait a bit more and see if anyone else would like to write something.
    – Elzee
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 9:30

I think you're overestimating how quickly people could develop technology under the circumstances.

If you look back 75 years, you see huge technological progress.

This is the cumulative work of 3-7 billion people, where the scientists and engineers are (for the most part) chosen from those most suited to the job.

Even then, a significant portion of our progress was due to competition between countries. The Moon Landing would not have happened when it did if it weren't for the cold war, plane development was hastened by decades by world wars. This means that governments pour significant amounts of money into public education/research bodies. 11-13 years of education is considered standard, with 15-16 being quite common. Agencies such as NASA, CSIRO and Universities turn taxpayer money into science at a staggering rate.

PanAm is VERY different.

The population of PanAm is a tiny fraction of this. The total fraction of the population that is devoted and suited to science is even smaller. Residents of the Capitol and the outer districts, no matter how smart, will contribute no science.

Of those scientists and engineers, we can assume quite a significant fraction of them are devoted to the entertainment of the residents of the capitol.


In the stories, the evolution of technology becomes most apparent in the arenas.

#1: The arena itself.

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes:

As in the past, the tributes would be dumped into the Capitol Arena, a now-dilapidated amphitheater that had been used for sports and entertainment events before the war, along with some weapons to murder one another. - Coriolanous Snow

The Hunger Games:

We’re on a flat, open stretch of ground. A plain of hard-packed dirt. Behind the tributes across from me, I can see nothing, indicating either a steep downward slope or even a cliff. To my right lies a lake. To my left and back, sparse piney woods. - Katniss Everdeen

The most significant change between the two arenas is the increase in space and complexity. This hints at a wider variety of technology, as they are able to use vast areas as arenas.

#2: The force field.

Catching Fire:

My eyes catch on a funny, rippling square hanging like a warped pane of glass in the air. At first, I think it was the glare from the sun or the heat shimmering up off the ground. But it's fixed in space, not shifting when I move. There's a sharp zapping sound. For an instant, the trees are gone and I see open space over a short stretch of bare earth. Then Peeta's flung back from the force field, bringing Finnick and Mags to the ground. - Katniss Everdeen

The force field is completely non-existent in Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, but in Catching Fire, the force field keeps the tributes inside the arena. The new creation of a force field hints at an increase in technology.

#3: Microphones.

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes:

The interior of the arena had no microphones, except for a few around the oval wall, so none were close enough to hear if Marcus was trying to speak. - Coriolanus Snow

The Hunger Games:

The anthems should block out our words, but still, I whisper. I even take the precaution of covering my lips with my hand. I don’t want the audience to know what I'm planning to tell her about Peeta. - Katniss to Rue

In Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the arena has few microphones, and even those can't capture a lot of noise; In The Hunger Games, Katniss doesn't know how good the microphones are, so she tries to hide her words.

But it still is possible that other technological advances have occurred over a span of many decades. The three points that I have above are only a few of the possible technological increases of the Capitol.

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