Android & iOS
New York, NY
Tap That is a mobile game being developed for Android and iOS that aims to teach the basics about sexually transmitted infections to players from the ages of 13 to 15. However players of different ages may also benefit from playing the game. In the game, players become a guardian angel who must make sure their sexually active human charges stay healthy and alive. This becomes challenging as there is a monster who is intent on eating your human charges by infecting the humans that come into contact with your charges with sexually transmitted infections. Players, as the guardian angel, must use tools available to them (condoms, vaccinations, checkups, cures and treatments) to ensure their charges stay in good health until they manage to starve the monster to its demise. The game requires a focus to detail and quick decision making as the number of human charges increases and the number of infections players have to keep track of increases through level.
By using colorful and minimalistic visualizations as well as constantly testing and improving game mechanics, Tap That aims to turn an unappealing topic into something that is more approachable and appealing to teenage audiences in hopes that they will learn enough from it to engage in safe sex when the time comes.
I grew up in North America until the age of fourteen, when my parents decided to move the family back to China where I would spend the rest of my teenage years growing up. Fortunately, before I moved back to China, I was able to have an awkward class or two on the subject of sex education. In China, from middle school all the way up to my years in undergrad, the closest thing I received to sex education was a text-heavy pamphlet the size of my hand shoved underneath my university dorm room door, along with a few takeout menus. Needless to say, my fellow classmates and I tossed the sex education pamphlets into the trash and kept the takeout menus.
The lack of decent sex education in China is a problem, because despite society's view that pre-marital sex is taboo, it still happens. One of my dearest friends is one of the sweetest people I know. As a teenager, all she wanted to do was make her then-boyfriend happy and if he wanted to have sex without a condom because it didn't feel so great, she let him. She was never taught that it was alright to say no. In his ignorance, he thought simply pulling out would work, but it didn't. Shortly after their doomed relationship, my friend found out she was pregnant, and ended up getting an abortion in secret, because not only is sex taboo, dating is also not allowed when you're in high school. She was just seventeen at the time.
Sometimes I wonder if I hadn't had those few awkward sex education classes before moving back to China, would I have been in the exact same situation as my friend? When I first moved back to China, many boys at the time thought that because I grew up in an environment more open to sex, I would be more open to engage in sexual activities. I wasn't and because I grew up knowing that saying no was alright, I had no problem voicing that.
I believe sex is a natural human desire. Humans are biologically programmed to engage in it. It's how we're able to keep our species alive and thriving. Engaging in sex has great benefits, but this doesn't mean humans should recklessly engage in sexual behavior as like all things, there are negative aspects to sex, such as sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. It's these negative aspects that we want to protect the younger generations from. However, denying that teens engage in sex doesn't mean they don't engage in sex and telling our teens not to have sex won't mean they will not have sex. The only way that we can truly protect them is to give them the knowledge and empowerment so they themselves can make the right choices at the right time, whatever that may mean for them.
This is why, in a time where society still isn't able to fully provide teens with the knowledge they need to make choices for a future safe sex life, I wanted to create Tap That so that teens can enjoy gaining that knowledge.
So many educational games out there focus so much on being educational that they neglect making the game mechanics fun. Tap That is designed to be so fun players are forgetting they're learning. It's designed to appeal to teen players, from game mechanics to visuals. Every step of its creation has been play tested by teens and modified with input from teens, because if teens don't enjoy playing this game, then the game is not working and it's back to the drawing board!
Sex education is awkward and not always available. Tap That is designed to be played during short breaks between class, during commutes or while on the toilet... Yeah. It was created for those who don't have access to sex education but have access to a smart phone, but anyone with a phone can play.
LGBT friendly. Because all humans have sex. The sprites inside this game come from a variety of races and have totally random sexual preferences.