Forget Temple Run, try Tampon Run! Two high school students have created a video game which replaces guns with tampons, in an attempt to break the stigma surrounding menstruation.
Teenagers Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser became friends through the Girls Who Code programme, which aims to close the gender gap in the technology industry by fostering coding skills in young women.
Houser explained to Parentdish how the idea came about: "For the final project of the programme, Andy wanted to make a game that had some sort of social impact. While brainstorming, I jokingly said that we should make a game where someone throws tampons."
"We did some research following our revelation, and saw that there's a lot of negative connotations associated with menstruating, and people all over the world are uncomfortable talking about it," she explains.
"We thought that this was terrible, because menstruation is such a normal bodily function."
In the introduction to the game, the pair condemn the unnecessary stigma which continues to surround periods.
"Menstruation is normal," the intro reads. "Yet most people, women and men alike, feel uncomfortable talking about anything having to do with menstruation.
"The taboo that surrounds it teaches women that a normal and natural bodily function is embarrassing and crude."
Despite the progressive politics behind it, Tampon Run is very much an old-school game, with side-scrolling gameplay and 8-bit graphics. Players fire tampons at adversaries - and try not to run out of the vital sanitary supplies (something we can all identify with).
Whatever you think of the game, the reaction is telling. A game which involves throwing tampons has been generating column inches all over the web, while no one blinks an eye at best-selling games which allow the player to maim their enemies with an AK-47 in graphic detail.
Gonzales and Houser address this paradox in their introduction to the game. "Although the concept of the video game may be strange, it's stranger that our society has accepted and normalized guns and violence through video games."
Houser told Parentdish that the pair have been overwhelmed by the messages they have received, which she calls 'almost completely positive'. "People have been so open, accepting and excited about the game and its message," she said.
Gonzales agreed, saying that they have even had suggestions for future improvements: "People have been requesting adding power ups like maxi pad shields, applicator bombs, and super absorbency tampons."
The graphics and gameplay might be simple, but Tampon Run is fiendishly addictive - you can have a go here.
Crucially, though, it also conveys a serious message - that periods are nothing to be ashamed of and don't need to be spoken about in embarrassed whispers.
And if anyone says otherwise, feel free to lob an (unused) tampon at them...
More on Parentdish:
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