Issues

Feds Spend $579,301 on Video Game to Teach College Students About Rape

Justice Department grant aimed at college-aged males

AP

The Department of Justice is spending more than a half a million dollars to create a video game that teaches college students about sexual assault prevention.

The National Institute of Justice awarded a grant to the University of New Hampshire last year to create a game targeting college-aged males that can be played online and on smartphones.

"We expect that by delivering a prevention strategy to men in an online application, a format that they use daily, male participants will report increased attention to the message," the grant said.

The university received $579,301 for the project, which they are using 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 off the university’s sexual prevention program and bystander marketing campaign, which sells posters that depict conversations about rape.

After it is developed, the video game will be tested on 480 students. A spokesperson for the University of New Hampshire said the project is in the very beginning stages because the grant award was just finalized.

"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."

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."

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.

These scenes are also available to be put on the side of a bus.