According to news reports, Channel 4 Education (in the UK) has commissioned the development of a PC download about sexual health. It’s slated to be called Privates and is described as a “spoof on the Space Marine genre… in which players enter a young men’s privates to shoot down infections.”
Given that 4.5 million GBP are being invested in the development of this project, I certainly hope it’s more skills-based and educational than that. Unfortunately many of these types of games are tested for acceptance, interested, enjoyment and marketability but rarely are they tested for their ability to actually help teach young people new skills or to change their behavior (such as getting guys to wear condoms or ask their partner about STI status and testing prior to having sex). A colleague of mine does fascinating research related to gaming and sexuality and I’ll be interested to see what he has to say when the game comes out in spring 2010. Or sooner if we get sneak peeks.
It would also be helpful for sex gaming folks to consider teaching young women and men about topics other than infection. A good deal of research shows that teenagers and college students are only marginally interested in learning about STIs, though if you come at education from a pleasure-focused angle you can often teach about STIs and birth control along the way (this is often my approach, anyway). And besides, young people – like adults – need to learn how to make sex enjoyable, anyway, lest they feel so ashamed about their bodies that they do things like (a) not discuss sex with a partner, (b) not go to a healthcare provider for birth control or (c) avoid conversations about STI testing or STI testing itself.
Anyway, keep your eye out for this and other sex ed related games.