MFA Design for Social Innovation, School of Visual Arts
How might we encourage education through play?
Social impact games are interactive experiences that integrate socio-political events, values and messages into its design and game mechanics. This project incorporates game theory and analysis with hands-on development in order to explore the question: how might we create comfort and space for conversations about sex? This topic has a history of being attached to shame or being outright taboo. Our design team came from diverse backgrounds - professionally, religiously, ethnically, and sexually. What united us was a shared goal: sexual education through a sex positivity lens. We designed from concept to a functional prototype, and refined SCREWED through several iterations and playtests with the community we aim to serve, ending with presentation to a jury of experts.
Our project stemmed from personal experience and second-hand accounts from victims of shame around bodies and sexuality. This shaming affects self-esteem, body image, and also intimate, sexual relationships. In our game, we wanted to encourage open and honest communication about difficult and potentially awkward topics - for players to learn and grow from friends with similar and different experiences. It was important for questions to be inclusive of all genders, experience levels, and sexual preferences. Throughout development, we rapidly iterated (and re-iterated) through many different mechanics and question styles while continuously playtesting with others for feedback. In effect, we designed the game with every person who came into contact and played with it. In order to engineer the game to play as fun and safe risk-taking as opposed to one meant for therapy space, we asked ourselves "How might we equip people with the right questions?" We accomplished this through:
BUILDING YOUR OWN HAND MECHANIC
We felt it was important for players to know what others felt safe sharing.
BUILT-IN TRANSPARENCY MECHANIC
We also wanted players to have some agency and choice while playing.
Players of SCREWED enjoyed the ability to control the nature of the game through open-ended questions, drawing from their own experiences and understanding in order to shape the play. Other team members noted that "Our diverse experiences offered much-needed perspectives." Another said that "through the iterative process of creating our game, I definitely saw myself getting more and more comfortable with vulnerability."
photos of the game
TAKEN BY TAYLOR SOKOLOWSKI