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Safe Sex With Friends Is Like Scrabble With Genitals And Dental Dams

A new game teaches you how to protect yourself from STDs with a little common sense about protection.

Words With Friends–an innocent, Scrabble-like Facebook game–has a catchy title. So catchy that Bang With Friends, an app that connects users to Facebook friends who want to have casual sex, appropriated it. Now comes another game that’s riffing on Words with Friends in more ways than one. Safe Sex With Friends, a yet-to-be-released app, features a game board that’s similar to Scrabble or Words With Friends, but instead of moving around word tiles, users match up body parts and safe sex “barrier methods.”

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The game, which won the 2013 SEX ETC. Game Design Competition–a $35,000 Games for Change competition that challenged entrants to create a safe sex awareness game prototype–was developed by a trio of designers: Kaho Abe, an artist in residence at the NYU-Poly Game Innovation Lab; Ramsey Nasser, a conceptual computer scientist at Eyebeam; and Sarah Schoemann, a game designer and digital artist currently teaching at CUNY Hunter.

Gameplay appears to be fairly intuitive (although we can’t yet play it and find out for real). Players create matches in vertical or horizontal rows of body parts and barriers–one body part plus one barrier method plus another body part is a match.

Here’s what the board looks like:


These are the available body parts (lots of hand drawn genitals and butts here):


And here are the barriers:


This is everything an educational game should be. It’s playful, teaches hard-to-master lessons in a simple way, and looks like it could be addictive, even for people who know all the rules of when to use a condom. The next step: building out the game and presumably getting it into the Android and Apple app stores.

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The winners of the rest of the Games for Change Awards include Blindside (a 3-D audio game that examines how to deal with dangerous situations while blind), Reach for the Sun (players help a seedling grow and reproduce), Data Dealer (all about buying and selling data), and Quandary (a game that teaches players to deal with the ethical issues that come along with shaping a society).

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About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more

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