Two high school students have created a computer game that’s probably safe to say no game developer has ever bet money on before. There are no zombies, no AK-47s, no strippers. Instead, Tampon Run is a simple concept: Collect tampons, shoot them at your enemies, and don’t run out of them before your moon cycle is over.
“Most women menstruate for a large portion of their lives. It is, by all means, normal,” the game creators, Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser, write. “The taboo that surrounds it teaches women that a normal and natural bodily function is embarrassing and crude.”
The aim of the game? To normalize tampons in video games where guns would have been acceptable otherwise.
“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, yet we still find tampons and menstruation unspeakable,” Gonzales and Houser, who met at a Girls Who Code summer program, add.
For anyone nodding along to these statements, Tampon Run might seem welcome, a bit of light-hearted commentary on the championing of machismo violence by corporate gaming juggernauts. But it also comes at a particularly fraught moment in the gaming community, just a week after games journalist Anita Sarkeesian started receiving new rape and death threats for pointing out the fact that violence against women is often used as video game wallpaper–a thoughtless way of adding some kind of spice to kill-’em, go-get-’em games.
In that light, Tampon Run is also pretty brave. And if you’re into eight-bit nostalgia (or fighting the patriarchy), it’s also fun as hell. Play it here.