shoot 'em up

Can This Video Game About Slaughtering STDs Teach Teens About Safe (Gay) Sex?

Call me puerile, but I like poop and sex jokes — yeah, it’s immature but I can be too sometimes. So I got excited when I first saw the trailer for PRIVATES, “a reproductive health education game for teenagers.” Finally: a fast, funny, gross game where condom-hatted heroes blast away germs and stray sperm lingering in people’s vaginas and bottoms. Heck, it might even teach kids a thing or two about STD prevention. But then I noticed that the game developers didn’t mention a dick level.

After viewing the trailer and synopsis, several troubling thoughts came to mind: “A game for teens that militarizes the inside of the vagina?”; “Are there no female marines?”; “I hope there is a disgusting disease-riddled penis.”

The trailer makes a serious subject seem pretty frivolous, and while “edu-tainment” always sounds nice, teenage boys will probably remember the crude one-liners and power-up locations more readily any useful advice to help keep their wieners from rotting off.

So I contacted Dan Marshall with the game’s development group Zombie-Cow. Not wanting to give away spoilers, he says there might sorta kinda be a penis level. He also understands the “military” feel of the trailer, but finds the word too strong since the weapons are actually spermicides, anti-bacterials, and anti-viral cocktails, not M-249 SAW automatic machine guns. Marshall also hints there might be a female Marine at some point in the game, but wouldn’t mention where.

Because of my sophomoric streak, I’ll definitely play it. But even while blasting away gonorrhea goblins with spermicidal shotguns, I’ll still wonder about its actual educational value. To which Marshall replies, “Sssssssh, it’s not educational! Kids won’t play it if it’s educational! It’s all GUNS and EXPLOSIONS and things going BRAKKA-BRAKKA and stuff, right?”