Thursday, May 22, 2008

Social Impact Game Ideas (sorry its long)

After playing the social impact games, I thought of the possibility of games that can be used to educate. As far as my project goes, I would like to focus on education and support for sexual assault and rape, particularly focused upon young women. How this translates into a game was difficult for me to imagine. In one of the lectures I had been to illustrate how it is to do something without your choice. While I think that the actual act of sexual assault is too much and too sensitive to be a game itself, I imagine a game where you set up a character, and use similar instances of people taking power from you. I played this game in a paper version once in a sexual assault workshop and thought that the medium of a social impact game might make it more powerful.

To begin with, you set up a character, and list 16 things that are important to that character. You can pick the age, race, gender, clothing, socio economic status etc. By creating a person, you are not perpetuating the stereotype that sexual assault happens to the loose girl on the street. Then you are asked to name 16 important things. The importance must include 4 people, 4 special characteristics or skills, 4 favorite activities, and 4 other personal belongings.

As the game goes on, you move your character through the town. Events occur that make you more and more uncomfortable and angry. Someone cuts you off in traffic, and then someone steals your wallet. With each act you must choose to take away and lose something that is important to you. The acts against you escalate as you reach home. Someone mugs you. Someone steals your car. With these acts you get to decide between the choices the computer gives you to take it away. Finally at home with only 4 important things left. You see someone break into your apartment. The computer chooses what to take away with you and you are left with only two personal things not of your choice.

This game works, and it has worked for me, because it shows that when sexual assault happens, you lose your ability to choose for yourself. In the end you have literally no say in what part of yourself is taken from you. After the game, there would be a message that this is what you are left with after an assault, only parts of yourself. You can lose family, friends, personality traits, personal belongings and that this loss can happen to anyone, because you can design the personal character in the beginning.

I am not certain how feasible this game would be, but as I said, dealing with sexual assault might not have a correlating social impact game that is feasible to educate. The point of this game is to make everyone feel the potential loss associated with sexual assault.

The other game I thought might work is simpler, but it’s kind of pick out the victim and pick out the perpetrator. By having both men and women dressed beyond the stereotypes in both roles, showing that it can happen to anyone and can be anyone is important in breaking down these stereotypes. After guessing, real statistics could pop up saying that no, it is not always the drunk girl in a short skirt who is “asking for it” and it is not the huge scary man who is the perpetrator. This game would work to break down stereotypes by presenting facts about sexual assault and by showing that you really cannot tell who it happens to and who does it. This would be a good tool because it shows how important it is to be on guard and educated about the potential for assault in the everyday, because more often than not it happens with someone known not a stranger.

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