Weekends around my house are often filled with board games. Saturday found us playing Ticket to Ride (the Germany edition, because we go to Germany every summer!). Other household favorites include Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan. In honor of my family’s love of game playing, this week I am devoting entirely to the Center for Sex Education’s manual Game On!.
Before I dive into the manual, I have to admit something. It’s one of those little personal foibles that follows us all around and makes us unique and special. This one dramatically impacts how I play games and it drives my friends and family crazy sometimes: I’m not competitive. Not even a little teeny tiny bit. So I approach game play as a cognitive exercise in moving pieces around in patterns. I often change rules that are designed to knock down other players because they infringe on my ability to make a perfect little empire, whether I’m winning the game or not. I’m usually delighted to have another round of turns or trade cards so that other players can make their little empires happy too. This makes cooperative games perfect for me, although other people sometimes role their eyes at them.
So now that you have a weird little glimpse into my personality that few beyond my closest loved ones have ever had, let’s talk sex ed games!
The first time I pull from a manual, I like to talk about the first lesson. It seems appropriate. The first one in Game On! is:
Something about Sexuality
by Eli R. Green, MA, MEd
By the end of the session, participants will be able to:
- Identify their thoughts, feelings and opinions on a variety of sexuality-related issues.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the perspectives of their peers, and be able to compare and contrast their own perspectives with those of their peers.
- Communicate their thoughts, feelings and opinions with their peers.
This lesson works to foster discussion and inspire group cohesion by providing a safe and creative opportunity for participants to examine their thoughts and perspectives on a wide variety of sexuality and related issues. For facilitators, this game can be used as an assessment tool to ascertain the range of perspectives in the group, identify areas that need further instruction and ascertain which topics are of most importance to the participants. In ongoing classes, this lesson can be modified to use as prompts for in-class writing assignments.
This game, like many in this manual, provides me with a delightful sense of nostalgia for the cooperative games I played as a child – games that my family now teases me about. Harvest Time, Save the Whales, Dam Builders, and more…(I have no idea how many people have ever played these games, and I may be outing myself as an extreme dork, but that’s just the way I role.)
But more than anything else, Something About Sexuality reminds me of the Ungame. Eli Green’s lesson plan is in many ways a sexuality specified version of the Ungame, without the board. It provides players an opportunity to get to know each other better. Whether his prompts are used in the context the lesson presents them (anonymous answers in a group setting) or between long- or short-term partners, there is something powerfully important to hearing other people’s answers to prompts like:
- Something I love about my body is…
- Something I have a hard time talking about is…
- Something that concerns me about sex is…
Not to mention the benefit of being invited into this thought space for yourself. I daresay that the sexual introspection this game requires would benefit us all.