In a bizarre effort to prevent rape on college campuses, the Department of Justice National Institute of Justice awarded almost $600,000 to the University of New Hampshire to create an online video game – aimed at college age men – to teach them about rape and sexual assault prevention.
According to the grant request, the video game, which can also be played on a smartphone, is designed to “deliver a prevention strategy to men in an online application, a format that they use daily, male participants will report increased attention to the message.” Huh?
The university is using the grant to create an Interactive Simulation Video Game “Advisory Board” comprised of “professionals from the behavioral sciences, victim services, prevention, public health, criminal justice, and game design fields.”
The game will be based on the university’s sexual prevention program (sexual prevention?) and bystander marketing campaign (?) to sell posters that depict conversations about rape.
After it is developed, the video game will be tested on 480 students.
How the students will be selected… using what criteria to learn if a “sexual prevention program” (written by whom with what qualifications pursuing what agenda) is effective… with no control group (unless the students are divided equally between those who have committed raped and those who have not) were issues not addressed in the grant request.
“Practicing is the key to prevention,” said Sharyn Potter, the co-director of the University of New Hampshire’s Prevention Innovations sexual violence prevention program who is leading the video game project. We need to go to our target audience and make sure we’re doing this right.”
Target audience? Practice? Practice what?
She added that the game would seek to depict “real life” college parties for students to practice bystander skills.
“We’ve found that if the scenario doesn’t look like a party they would go to on a Saturday night, the intervention is not effective,” Potter said. “It really has to resonate with college students, or there’s no sense in doing this.”
What “intervention” is, how its’ effectiveness can be measured and why the entire exercise is based on the premise that “sexual assault and violence” are routine activities at parties were also questions that went unaddressed. And to muck things up even further:
“The game will be based on the University’s “Bringing in the Bystander” In-Person Prevention Program and the “Know Your Power” Bystander Social Marketing Campaign.”
The marketing campaign features posters of “guy talk,” which tries to depict “real” conversations between students about sexual assault.
“My friend Jeff is the man,” a young man in one poster says. “He got this girl passed out drunk and then nailed her.”
“You’ve got to be kidding. Your friend raped her,” replies another. “Your friend is pathetic.”
In another example, “Guy Talk 2,” the friend Jeff “banged this passed out chick at the party last night.” A good response is “That’s so not cool. What’s wrong with you? Your friend is messed up!”
“Guy Talk 3” appears to imply that a man plans on raping another man he met online. “I met this guy online. He’s coming to my apartment and I’m getting him drunk. We’re hooking up whether he wants to or not.” “That’s not okay,” a friend replies. “That’s rape.”
“Guy Talk 4” shows a group of frat boys planning a party, as one says he won’t drink to “make sure the guys stay in line.” “Good call,” his friend replies. “We don’t want a repeat of the rape that happened last year.”
Other posters depict dorm rape scenes, parties and a lesbian yelling at her girlfriend.