A new virtual game tries to illustrate the real-life challenges faced by women who are victims of sexual harassment, and how difficult it is to overcome them.
“The metaphor is that it takes lots of people speaking up to tip the scales of justice against the harasser – particularly when the harasser is a high-profile professional like the cases we’ve seen of late,” Game Lab director and game co-creator Lindsay Grace said in an announcement on the game’s release.
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The game features a male harasser, shown in what appears to be boxers and a robe, weighing down one side of a scale. The object is to tap or click on bubbles containing women, to help them speak up, break out of the bubbles and tip the scale below.
“Harassment can trap women in a bubble of isolation and shame,” the introduction says. “But when women speak out, they can tip the balance of power and hurl the harasser.”
Tipping the scale is complicated by a beam cast by the harasser that says, “It was consensual,” and temporarily freezes the player’s ability to free the women from their bubbles. But the game reflects the power in numbers gained by women choosing to speak out.
“The harasser can win by throwing up enough obstacles and doubt,” co-creator and American University adjunct professor Maggie Farley said in the announcement. “When the harasser says, ‘It was consensual,’ a toxic ray briefly paralyzes the women, but we wanted to show that there are ways for the underdogs to fight back together and overcome the harassment and obstacles.”
Grace said the game falls “somewhere between an empathy game and political satire.”
“We really want people to think and reflect on the way our society works in this context,” she said.