Move over, Dungeons and Dragons. Role-playing games are taking on a new life, and in this case, the players are expected to learn more than just creative thinking and how to properly roll 12-sided dice.
This time, they are supposed to learn how to say no to sex.
According to Fox News, Orlando, the University of Central Florida is developing a live action video game particularly targetting Latina teens that will “simulate real everyday situations” in which middle-school-aged girls may find themselves, to help them better prepare to resist potential pressure to have sex.
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By donning a motion-capture suit, the players get to act out social scenarios that will then play out on the screen, earning points every time they turn down sexual advances.
“They have an opportunity to interact with the avatars and they’ll earn points for particular social skills that they develop.”
Along side UCF’s institute for simulation and training, Professor Anne Norris is creating a virtual game which works by using simulation and digital puppetry. It sounds complicated, but it’s simple technology.
“What’s radically different about this one one person controls many characters by jumping into the skin, ” said Charles Hughes, UCF Computer Science professor.
“A boy similar in age might approach the person playing the game and ask her to make out or there might be some sexual innuendo,” said Norris.
An “interactor,” or a person controlling a character, jumps into the scenario by wearing a motion-capture suit. Infra-red lights shine down and hit markers. Those markers control the movement of the character.
“It’s a place to practice where there aren’t any social consequences,” said Norris.
The game, which is expected to be ready to be tested by real students in the spring, is being paid for with a nearly $435,000 federal grant from the National Institutes of Health.
That would be an abstinence-only grant for the “science and evidence-based” Obama Administration.
As Tracy Clark-Flory over at Broadsheets reports, it’s no surprise that this project would happen in Florida, which has a habit of skimping when it comes to providing comprehensive, age-appropriate and fact-based sexual education to its students, as well as an official state position of “abstinence-only until marriage.”
Essentially, the video game is an elaborate version of the Tamagotchi, only, rather than a small electronic pet you feed and watch grow bigger, the pet is young girls, and you “win” by telling them not to kiss boys. Yet for the same amount of money, Florida could hire ten educators to canvas the state, providing one-on-one counseling with teens struggling with the decision of whether or not to have sex. Those counselors could help protect those already having sex or who later choose to have sex by teaching them about prevention of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, self-esteem and sexual negotiation, rather than just have them “score” every time they refuse to kiss a boy.
In the end, like many abstinence-only gimmicks, the actual program is more a show of providing sex ed than an actual plan to truly help young people know, understand, and learn to accept the responsibilties and consequences that come with sex. Much like the purity ring fad, the game is a shiny new face on a program that has been shown repeatedly to just not work.