Gov’t Contest will Award $30K for STD Video Game


This Week’s Sign the Apocalypse is Upon Us
by Rebekah Maxwell

The last word you’d probably use to describe a sexually-transmitted disease is “fun.” In fact, with the utterly shocking statistics on STD increases in young people, it’s becoming culturally imperative for our kids to stop playing around with their lives. How can we get kids to take STDs seriously? It’s not a game after all….but why not make it one?

A government (read “my money”) contest is under way for aspiring young game developers to create an HIV/STD prevention video game. According to, the Department of Health and Human Services is looking for an app game for smart phones and other mobile devices, a la Candy Crush or Flappy Bird…except about sexually-transmitted diseases. The top two games win a combined $30,000 in cash prizes (again, “my money”):

The goal of the Game On! Challenge is to support the development of an original and innovative game app for smartphones.  The game app will educate young people about HIV and STD prevention. The target population for this game is adolescents aged 13 to 17 years or young adults aged 18 to 24 years.  The game will provide key prevention messages and meet objectives outlined below:

  • Be entertaining, fun, engaging, and appropriate for adolescents (13 to 17 years) or young adults (18 to 24 years).  Developers are encouraged to treat youth and young adults as distinct audience/player segments in the design of the game.
  • Deliver accurate health messages that emphasize the importance of one or more of the following five messages supporting HIV and STD prevention:
    1. Get the FactsProvide the facts on HIV and STDs, including how it is (and is not) spread. Share information on how to reduce the risk of HIV and STD transmission (including the choice not to have sex).
      See, abstinence-weirdos…there’s your concession.
    2. Speak Up – Encourage youth to talk about HIV and STDs in their relationships, with health care providers, friends, and family. Talking openly and honestly about HIV and STDs will help reduce stigma.
    3. Use CondomsWhen used consistently and correctly, latex condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and STDs.
    4. Get TestedEarly diagnosis saves lives. Know where to get tested. Make HIV and STD testing a part of routine health care.
    5. Get Treated – Many STDs are curable and all are treatable. There are effective medications available to help people with HIV live long and healthy lives.


Because kids have never heard these messages before. Certainly not in government-funded health classes, since back when their classmates had cooties. No, those billions of dollars we’ve poured into sex-ed curricula obviously aren’t working very well…so let’s spend a few thousand more on an educational game to teach teens what their teachers couldn’t. Kids love educational games telling them how to run their sex lives.

But wait: I thought we weren’t supposed to judge other people’s sexual practices/preferences. Who am I to force my morality about safe, non-disease-spreading sexual practices on anybody else? How can I limit their sexual expression to only methods that are “safe”? I thought whatever went on in the privacy of someone’s bedroom was none of my business…after all, what I don’t know won’t hurt me, right?

So far, it has only hurt about 110 million Americans who have an STI (at the CDC’s latest count), many as young as 15 years old. But that doesn’t mean we can tell them what to do with their bodies. We have to cajole them into sexual safety with an addictive smart phone game; because playing a safe sex game will make the kids have safe sex…like playing Candy Crush made them all confectioners and Farmville made them all farmers.

And since we know our young people are officially more likely to have an STI than a job these days, they’d better have video games to keep them busy in their unemployed (and hopefully uninfected) state.
Note: this isn’t an original idea to our guv’ment.  As CNS News reports, the Canadians did it first.

Their contest resulted in a two-part trivia game called “Adventures in Sex City,” where a group of ragtag heros called the “Sex Squad” fights off an evil villain (“The Sperminator”) with condoms. You wish I was joking. I hope it really resonates with the one in seven Canadians over age 14 with herpes.