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How to Play a Game of Outdoor "Hunger Games"

Yvonne writes a lot of non-fiction, holding a MA in Creative Writing. She writes on a variety of topics, including parenting.


Tag Game Idea: The Hunger Games

For Kids, Invented by Kids

This is a Hunger Games game with a difference. What makes this game special is that it was invented by kids and has been tested out thoroughly by being played by kids (my daughters and their friends). They have played it enough times now to have figured out what works and what doesn’t.


You will need a minimum of 6 people to play this game. So far, children and teenagers from 10-to-15 years have played it and enjoyed themselves. Older teens and adults could join in too. If younger siblings want to join in you would need to adapt the rules a little.

To have fun you don’t need fancy equipment. You could use Nerf or water guns if you want, but actually the game works far better without.

Here’s Why:

  • If you have guns the game could all be over very quickly – and the fun is in creating tactics to outsmart your opponents and in the chase. (In the books and movie the Hunger Games last as long as they do because Katniss and others live by their wits to get the better of the stronger tributes.)
  • No one will get accidentally injured. Unlike in the books and movie the aim of this game is to have fun, and no one will die or get hurt!

What You Need to Play

  • Tags (you can print off the tag design included in this article or design your own.)
  • String (and scissors to cut the string)
  • An area that will form your “Arena.”
  • Maps of your Arena.
  • Extra goodies: eg snacks, drinks, more tags.
  • Backpacks for some of the extras.
  • Friends!


By using tags in this game, it’s very easy to tell when someone has “died” and there is no way to cheat!

Everyone gets 3 tags, which are tied by string onto wrists or belt loops on trousers. There are also extra tags hidden in various places in the arena.

It’s not a good idea to tie tags to ankles because they might easily catch and tear off. The aim of the game is to pull off your opponents’ tags and to avoid losing yours. When a player loses all tags they are “dead” and so out of the game. (They can still hang around with other players, but can’t help them in any way.)

When only one player has any tags left that player is the victor.

To make tags:

Either print off the ones below, or create your own design. Either way, if you copy and paste several times you should be able to fit 9 on a page - 3 across and 3 down the way. Print out as many as you will need. Cut them into individual tags and then using a punch make a hole in each, using the black dot as a guide. Then thread string through the hole. Your tag is ready!

2 tags you can use in the Hunger Games tag game


You can print out these tags to use in your game

You can download these tags to print out and use in your game. You should be able to fit about 9 onto an A4 size of paper. (Or US letter size.)

You are allowed to download these for use in a game, but you may not copy these onto any site on the internet without prior permission.

An example of a map showing the rough location of extra tags

The map gives a rough idea where to find more tags, but people will still have to hunt around

The map gives a rough idea where to find more tags, but people will still have to hunt around

Example map giving exact location of extra tags

In this map it is now easy to find some of the extra tags. This would be at the Cornucopia, possibly in a backpack.

In this map it is now easy to find some of the extra tags. This would be at the Cornucopia, possibly in a backpack.

How to Make Your Own Hunger Games Arena

The neighborhood where we live is ideal for playing this game. There are 2 communal parks with trees and bushes, and a third communal area with trees that are prefect for climbing. Although two main roads flank the neighborhood, there is little through traffic and with a speed limit of 20 mph (32kmph) it is safe for the age group playing. The main roads are the boundaries for the arena.

Since not everyone is likely to have such a perfect “arena” on their doorstep, you may have to venture further afield to play. Here are a few suggestions:

A park with different types of terrain such as trees, twisting paths and open areas would be ideal.

A small woodland area could also be fun.

If the people playing are neighbors then a few gardens and yards could be used to make the arena – so long as there are clear rules for passing through houses. A good general rule is no going upstairs. (Our house is the gateway to one of the communal areas, and is also where kids can use the toilet if they need to. You can see the rules the children created for this in the Inside section of the rules.) Parents need to be okay about their house being used as part of the arena, so any children reading this: check with your parents first!!!!

Maps of Your arena

Make several maps of your arena.

Your first map will be for everyone to see, and could be pinned to tree or passed round before the game begins. It will show the boundary, the position of the cornucopia and any other details that everyone needs to know. The first example map shows the exact location of 2 sets of extra tags and gives rough locations for more spare tags. (These are indicated by the colored circles.)

Your other maps will give away details of some of the spare tags, but each one will reveal only one or two locations and different ones for different maps!

The Cornucopia

Just as in the Hunger Games, this game starts at the “Cornucopia”.

This doesn’t need to be an elaborate building. In fact “cornucopia” simply means abundance, so it is where you leave extras for people to grab before they dash off. Because the more tags a person has the longer he or she will “live,” extra tags are what everyone wants. Scatter a few tags on the ground and maybe some water bottles or snacks.

You could also leave backpacks and these could contain drinks, snacks and other extras such as more tags or maps showing where tags are hidden. It is more fun to leave maps because then whoever gets those will try to find the tags, which gives others a chance to catch them as they search. (Looking for tags keeps people moving.) For 10 players 3 backpacks would be a good number.

If your cornucopia is in a public place such a park, someone will have to stay with the goodies. An adult could do this.

Position of the Cornucopia

The Cornucopia needs to be in a place that it is easy for people to escape from – otherwise your game will be over before it’s begun. An open area is best and a tree in the middle is good because you can leave your supplies around it. If this isn’t possible, then have a “Peacetime.” This means that everyone has a certain length of time to get away before anyone can go “into combat.”

How well do you know the Hunger Games books and movie? Take the Quiz.

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What color is Buttercup in the Hunger Games Books?
    • Ginger
    • Black and white
    • Grey
  2. What color is Buttercup in the Hunger Games Movie
    • Ginger
    • Black and white
    • Grey
  3. Who gives Katniss the Mockingjay pin the Hunger Games book?
    • Haymitch
    • Madge
    • Prim
  4. Who gives Katniss the Mockingjay pin in the Hunger Games movie
    • Haymitch
    • Madge
    • Prim
  5. Prim and Rue are both the same age. Are they:
    • 10?
    • 12?
    • 13?
  6. What district was Foxface from?
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5

Answer Key

  1. Ginger
  2. Black and white
  3. Madge
  4. Prim
  5. 12?
  6. 5

Optional Extras


If you want to, you can have a “training session” before the games. This would consist of races with winners getting a bonus – perhaps a head start at the Cornucopia, or one of the maps.

You could also hold a quiz, with questions from the Hunger Games. Either use the quiz here or make your own.


This game works whether you divide players into Panem Districts or not. If you do decide to use Districts players can choose to be from any District. Anyone choosing a district with “Career tributes” would then pick allies from other Career Districts.

If everyone wants to be from District 12, then it’s best not to have Districts at all.

Hiding in trees is allowed

Good climbers…

Good climbers…

…can go from tree…

…can go from tree…

…to tree…

…to tree…

…and get away.

…and get away.

But hiding here is not allowed!!


Rules, and why to have them

The rules you create should make the game more fun for everyone, and make sure it is fair. You will see in the example rules below that alliances should be small. This is because with larger groups either the game is over too quickly or nobody makes a move!

If the game does run into “stalemate” where nobody moves, then have a minute of “Peace Time” during which everyone should run off.

You also need to allow people time to go to the bathroom if they need to, but not to hide in there to avoid capture.

If you play in a wooded area, decide tree-climbing rules beforehand. Are people allowed to go from tree to tree (as Rue did) or are they only allowed to climb one tree? This will probably depend on how expert everyone is at climbing trees. You might also need to decide on a time limit for staying up a tree.

Below is an example of rules for the game. You could use these or adapt them to suit. If smaller children are joining in you may need to play in a smaller and enclosed area so rules about gates and roads could be omitted.

An Example of The Rules for: The Hunger Games Tag


1. No mending tags after they’ve been broken.

2. No hiding tags.

3. Pick up used tags from the ground.

4. No making fake tags.

5. You may put tags around your wrists and waist only.


1. Leave open gates open.

2. Leave closed gates closed.

3. No climbing over gates.

Combat + Games

1. Backstabbing is awesome and should be done.

2. No biting, scratching, kicking etc.

3. Stay within the borders on the map. Don’t go on to the main roads.

4. Stay within specified maximum alliance size (e.g. 3 for 10 people).


1. You may go inside on the bottom floor of the house at any time.

2. Inside you may go to the toilet, get a drink, or to pass through.

3. You may not use the toilet for too long or in the middle of combat.

4. You may not attack someone when they are going into or coming out of the toilet.


1. Do not move before the countdown is up.

2. In some games the first 10 seconds of the game are a Peacetime - no attacking.

3. Make sure you start with no less or more than three tags.

Mobile Phones

1. If possible, bring a mobile phone.

2. You may only phone your allies or an adult (if you have questions/concerns).

3. If you are out of the game you can phone anyone but you may not give away details of tributes location, allies etc.

4. Only bring phones if you can keep them safe.

Anyone who does not abide by these rules will face loss of tags or disqualification.

Oh, and one final rule, the most important of all:


With thanks to my children and their friends for sharing their awesome ideas!

Questions & Answers

Question: Can players steal supplies from someone who is "dead" in this Hunger Games activity?

Answer: Yes, that would be okay.

Question: Does the winner get something at the end of this game?

Answer: My kids and their friends didn't have a prize for the winner, as for them, the excitement was in the game itself. But you can add a prize if you want to! If you do, I'd suggest you keep it small, so that getting the prize doesn't become the aim and detract from the overall enjoyment of the game.

Question: What supplies would you set up at the cornucopia for a game of outdoor Hunger Games?

Answer: That's entirely up to the people playing the game. Choose whatever suits you all.

Question: In outdoor "Hunger Games," what should you do if a player who is "dead" gives another player someone else's location?

Answer: That's entirely up to the people playing. If you don't want people to do that, then make that a rule.

Question: Can I use the book as a guide?

Answer: Yes, that would be fine. Really, you can adapt this game to suit yourselves.


Storm on August 10, 2020:

How do you attach the tags? If you attach them with string wouldn't it be hard to get them off with out hurting people. Just a question

Charlie on February 18, 2019:

This game will be so fun!

This will be a perfect way to drag my friends

who are addicted to their phones outside!

Rachael on June 28, 2015:

Im soooo doing this for my Birthday party.

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on May 05, 2014:

Glad to hear this was useful for you!

hungergamefan2 on March 24, 2014:

I've been trying to organise something like this lately with a group of friends. This article solved some of the the problems I have come across with rules. Rules are especially hard when you play with wooden weapons not tag.

Thanks for the advice

Brandon Hart from The Game on March 19, 2014:

Wow. I wish I could climb a tree like that!

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on February 20, 2014:

Cat, my kids do it that you just discard the tag, but really you could do it either way - it's up to you!

Cat Valentine on February 20, 2014:

So, what happens when we get someone else's tag? Do we just use it as our own or do we throw it away?

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on August 17, 2012:


Ellie Littrell el on August 16, 2012:

Hey that looks fun lol

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on August 14, 2012:

Habee, I'm confident your grandkids will love it! Thanks for the vote up and for sharing.

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on August 13, 2012:

Hi Realhousewife,

I hadn't realised you'd had such bad storms. Wow. And hope your girls have as much fun as mine do playing this game. Thanks for your comment.

Holle Abee from Georgia on August 13, 2012:

My grandkids LOVE stuff like this! Can't wait to introduce them to it. Voted up and shared!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on August 10, 2012:

Very Cool - I will have to print this and let the girls give it a try. I did lose a tree in the storm a few days back but still have a couple good climbing trees:)

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on August 09, 2012:

Margie, I think this would be great fun at a family reunion.

Thanks for your comment and the vote up.

Yvonne Spence (author) from UK on August 09, 2012:

Gosh cocopreme, 1000+ in a game of zombie tag sounds amazing!

I hope you do play this game as I am sure you will enjoy it. A great thing about it is that who wins doesn't matter, everyone has a good time anyway.

Thanks for your lovely comment and for sharing.

Mmargie1966 from Gainesville, GA on August 09, 2012:

This sound like a really good game! I'll have to keep it in mind when we have a family reunion (which we do several times a year)!!

Thanks so much ~ voted up and awesome!

Candace Bacon from Far, far away on August 09, 2012:

Oh! This is so awesome! What creative kids you have! This is something that I would play. Maybe I should organize a game. I've played a thousand+ person game of zombie tag before, but this could be even more fun. I am going to pin this for future use.