Disappointed by the lack of action on TheCapitol.pn? Don’t be! Not only does that mean we likely have more to look forward to there, but we’ve also got quite a bit brewing on other Hunger Games sites. Before we get to the meat of this Countdown, how about a little appetizer? Actually, think of it more as a short before a feature.
Ever wonder what would happen if you threw the Harry Potter characters into The Hunger Games? Personally I haven’t, but the folks behind The Potter Games certainly did and not only did they create an engaging story combining the material, but they’ve added an interactive element. Hear all about it from one of the site’s creators, Adam Spunberg, in the video below. Well, Adam and an impromptu guest.
Interested in checking it out for yourself? Head on over to ThePotterGames.com to build your own Harry Potter/Hunger Games adventure and keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates on their expansion.
Cue tacky announcer voice. And now the main event!
You asked for more and you’re getting it. Panem October is back and gearing up for the official launch. With the October 1st start date fast approaching, the elusive Head Gamemaker, Rowan, agreed to take part in an interview. This is absolutely unprecedented because as cryptic as he is, we got into the details of the conception of Panem October, the situation with Lionsgate, what’s to come and so much more. Brace yourselves because Panem October is finally coming and there’s a little something you’ll need to do to ensure you’re prepared.
Movies.com: What made you decide to start Panem October? Was there something specific that triggered the idea?
Rowan the Gamemaker: Alternate-reality games have always been an interest to me and the minute I read the Hunger Games trilogy, I knew I had to turn the passion into something amazing for the fans.
Movies.com: How’d you handle it from there? Do you have experience working on these types of projects?
Rowan: I helped start a small-scale ARG for a different fandom (of which I won’t mention for fear of revealing my identity). Getting to know how fans react to various types of material and ways of releasing it has given me an amazing inside look at how viral campaigns truly reach fans and what gets them the most excited.
Movies.com: Were there any concerns at the start in terms of Lionsgate stepping in?
Rowan: I actually approached Lionsgate’s marketing team before our original website went live back in April, and pitched to them the idea and requested that we work together to create something incredible for the fans. Days turned into weeks and I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for Lionsgate to be involved. We launched the website shortly after realizing there would be no working relationship and decided to be 100% powered by fan volunteers.
Movies.com: When they stepped in, what exactly happened? What were they unhappy with?
Rowan: We received a letter from Lionsgate legal department in June, two to three months after we initially contacted them, asking us to take down our websites because of a few reasons. We learned that Lionsgate has two marketing departments: a marketing department for Lionsgate as a company and a theatrical marketing department for advertising new films. We were accidentally speaking with Lionsgate’s main marketing department and not the one responsible for advertising The Hunger Games film. Because of this miscommunication and the rising popularity of our website, websites were beginning to think that our website belonged to Lionsgate and it was being promoted by various sources as the official viral campaign for The Hunger Games film, thus causing Lionsgate to take action. We assume that because of the theatrical marketing department not knowing that we were communicating with Lionsgate’s other marketing department and not knowing who we are or what we were doing, they panicked and sent us the takedown requests. Of course we wanted to cooperate with Lionsgate regardless, so we did what they asked and removed our old addresses, www.hungergamestesserae.com and www.welcometopanem.com. We have attempted since then to make contact, but with no success, so we decided to re-launch the website under a new name and with much better disclaimers, saying we were unofficial and fan-made and that it was our goal to make an amazing experience for Hunger Games fans.
Movies.com: Did the incident change your plans or are things going to schedule as you intended?
Rowan: We lost out on a few months of planning because of the incident, but we’re trying to quickly catch up. We want to clarify that this is a 6-month long game, so there’s much, much planning that goes into something like this. Our schedule will vary and things will change throughout the game, so we’ll see how it all comes together!
Movies.com: So now what can we expect next?
Rowan: Users by now I’m sure are trying to crack the bypass code we installed on all of the Panem October content. We are fairly confident that no one will crack the code and that most of the fans will be seeing Panem October for the first time on its official launch, October 1st at 12:01am eastern. Other than that, I’m pretty sure I would lose my tongue if I spoke out more about what we have planned.
Movies.com: In that case, what makes Panem October different from TheCapitol.pn?
Rowan: Well, we haven’t seen much more from TheCapitol lately, so I’m not too sure what’s going on over there. They definitely seem to be working on an ARG, but there’s no telling how extensive it might be. The only definitive difference between our ARGs we can identify thus far is that TheCapitol has a countdown clock for the Hunger Games, which will end the day the movie is released. Our countdown clock, which the fans don’t really know much about, is not counting down to the Reaping, like many believe. Our clock is currently counting down to the beginning of our ARG. The big difference we can already see is that the Hunger Games will actually happen during our game. We will put the fans into the books themselves and make them feel as if they were living in Panem while the Hunger Games are happening.
Movies.com: Can you talk about the degree of interactivity? Will the users be able to affect this world?
Rowan: Hmm, President Snow is very clear on ensuring we do not give details, but I think I can answer this if I do so carefully. October 1st will be the beginning of Panem October, but not the Reaping, or the Games. We want the citizens to feel comfortable with the features and get used to moving around Panem October before the Games begin. Throughout the course of the experience, the majority of time will be focused on the Games themselves, which come soon afterwards. The citizens are going to be living residents of the districts while the Games are going on and our goal is to make them feel what it would actually be like living there. Their activity and district collaboration with each other will influence how the players in the Games succeed, or fail. Their direct actions will result in a Tribute’s life or death, because it will be their responsibility to keep their district’s Tribute alive – you can almost say that each citizen has the opportunity to act as the Tribute’s mentor.
Movies.com: How about social media? How much of this effort will rely on Facebook and Twitter?
Rowan: The plan is to use social networks to allow users to personally connect with characters that we develop throughout the storyline of Panem October. That’s all I can say about that.
Movies.com: Overall, what are your hopes for Panem October? What would you ultimately like to achieve?
Rowan: Our overall goal is to provide an unforgettable experience for the fans as they await the release of the Hunger Games film.
Movies.com: There are three more movies coming out after The Hunger Games, do you plan to continue your work?
Rowan: Time will tell. No promises or plans have been made yet.
Movies.com: And how about your identity? Ever feel the urge to revel in your glory?
Rowan: I think the mystery is great. I can count on one hand how many people actually know who ‘Rowan the Gamemaker’ really is. We’ve made working relationships with other fansites in the Hunger Games community who still, to this day, do not know who I am, but I correspond regularly with these people as a Gamemaker. Anonymity makes for a great interest and always creates an interesting buzz. Who really is it behind the curtain? And yes, many times I want to reveal who I am and participate in the Hunger Games fan community directly, but I have a goal to maintain, an illusion that I am a Gamemaker and this is Panem. I might reveal myself after Panem October, but no promises.
Movies.com: What are your hopes for the film? Any concerns? Do you like what you’ve seen so far?
Rowan: I can honestly say, now more easily with anonymity to shield myself from the wrath of fandom, that I was not impressed with the teaser. Sorry, Lionsgate. I know you’re reading this, but I’ll make it up to you by having 50,000 fans participate in my game to promote the film! I tease, but honestly I was a little disappointed with the decision the filmmakers made to only show clips of Katniss in the woods, shooting an arrow. The opportunity to be in front of the entire world during the VMAs and get a ton of coverage is not an easy thing to come by. I feel they missed out on this amazing opportunity by not providing enough information or grabbing content to attract non-fans, the ones who need to be given something interesting to buy tickets to a movie they know nothing about. I know this wasn’t the trailer and that’s the purpose of the trailer and not a teaser, but to anyone in that audience, they just watched a girl playing in the grass with a bow and arrow, and, for all they know, the girl could have gotten lost on her way to archery class. I have full confidence that the filmmakers will do a great job, I just wanted to get the VMAs off of my chest.
As if that wasn’t enough of a treat, we’ve got the next piece of the Panem October puzzle that, if used right, has the power to take you further into the world of Panem. Below you will find the very first Panem Identification Card. Think of it as a trading card, but 21st century style. You need access to a QR reader on your phone. Simply search for “QR” in your app marketplace and you will find a free application that allows you to scan these codes. Once you have that capability, get started!
Every time an ID card is scanned, the Capitol is informed that that individual is present and accounted for, and is doing their duty to the Capitol by keeping the authority informed. By scanning another individual’s ID Card, you will be brought to their Panem October profile page and have the option to add him or her as a friend.
As the Capitol values noble citizens, those who have their ID scanned by others frequently will receive additional items and special opportunities later in the game.
Why not start by scanning the ID below? Who doesn’t want to be friends with Katniss Everdeen?
You can also connect with Katniss on the Panem October site, on Facebook and Twitter.
Don’t worry; the fun doesn’t end here. Additional character IDs will be popping up all over the fandom! Keep an eye on your favorite Hunger Games websites for additional ID cards leading up to the beginning of Panem October on October 1st.
The Hunger Games Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other Wednesday. There are 183 days until release.