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School girls make tampon video game to destigmatise periods

October 02, 2014

Article Originally Posted by Hannah Francis of The Sydney Morning Herald - September, 16, 2014

 

Two school girls have hit back at sexism in the gaming industry and beyond with a video game that features tampons instead of weapons.

Andrea Gonzales, 16, and Sophie Houser, 17, from New York, have attracted international interest with Tampon Run, the product of their work during of a summer coding program run by Girls Who Code, a group dedicated to helping girls get into a technology career.

Andrea told Time the concept began as a joke when the pair was brainstorming ideas for a game that would be socially positive with "a feminist twist".

Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser created Tampon Run during the Girls Who Code summer immersion program.

Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser created Tampon Run during the Girls Who Code summer immersion program. Photo: Screenshot

"I thought the hyper-sexualisation of women in video games was a very addressable issue," she said.

Tampon Run is a simple, 8-Bit role-playing game (RPG) similar to vintage '80s games such as Super Mario Bros. or the enormously popular (now defunct) Flappy Bird smartphone app that stormed the world earlier this year.

The protagonist (a girl, naturally) must collect boxes of tampons and use the tampons as projectiles to defeat her enemies – boys who run towards her trying to steal her "ammo". If she runs out of tampons, it's game over – and the screen goes red.

The game is prefaced with a narrative which explains the message: essentially, the absurdity of girls not being able to talk openly about their periods while extreme violence in video games is normalised.

Tampon Run uses humour and "gamification" to draw attention to what is often an awkward or fraught topic for young girls, especially in the some times unpleasant context of the schoolyard.

Andrea and Sophie target the "taboo" surrounding menstruation, saying it "teaches women that a natural and normal bodily function is embarrassing and crude".

"Hopefully one day menstruation will be just as normal, if not more so, than guns and violence have become in our society; Normal enough to place it in a video game without a second thought," the narrative reads.

They said they planned to make the game available on smartphones (currently it is only playable online) and to create "some kind of high score leader board system so people can interact with each other through the high scores".

 

 




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