Board Game: Compromising Positions – A Game of Sexual Health and Safety Team

Project Brief

Client : Internal Project Completed in : January 2009 Technologies used : Photoshop, HTML, CSS, PHP, JS, AJAX

Instructional Objective
The purpose of this game is to present potentially new information or verify/reinforce existing knowledge of topics associated with sexual health and safety.

Objective: Given a variety of relevant situations which could potentially compromise sexual health, players will be able choose identify or describe the most accurate and/or best course of action.

Learners & Context of Use
Audience: The game is designed for traditional-age (17-20 years) incoming freshman to a university or college, most likely living away from home for the first time. It assumes that students are familiar with the basics of human sexuality such as male/female anatomy, mechanics of sex, and common birth control options.

Environment: The game may be played in any room – a dorm room, a classroom, a common room. Privacy is recommended, in order to facilitate conversations and assure player comfort. It is important that the facilitator create an environment – both physical and social – that is safe, secure and comfortable to all players.

Board game prototype design, click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Image Title

Game Facilitator: We recommend an advisor or instructor is present while the game is played to address questions that may arise. We also encourage the advisor or instructor to provide a forum, either during or after playing, to answer individual questions prompted by the game subject matter. This game will most likely take players out of their comfort zone. If a player feels too uncomfortable to participate they should have the option to opt out without penalty. Alternatively, it may be beneficial for them to observe the game in action and participate in a discussion if they so choose. For more information about the role of the Facilitator, see the Rules.

Context: Since students may arrive at college with a wide range of sexual health knowledge, instructors may choose to have students play the game after formal content is presented or in lieu of formal content, using the answers to prompt more informal conversation. This game may be played as an interactive component of a larger sexual health curriculum or in a more informal setting, such as a dorm meeting or freshman orientation get-together.

Competing Products

Our team found that there are speakers and educational materials that address sexual health and safety for college students. There aren’t, though, educational games geared toward this audience that cover these topics. While there are hundreds of sex novelty games, like The Sex Game, they aren’t geared toward educating students on sexual health topics. The Contraception game is by far the most relevant and effective game in this category. Our choice of topic was validated when weren’t able to find educational games that covered these topics that were designed for our specific audience.

To ensure our game was based on content that was relevant to the target audience and aligned with what student-educators believe students should know about these topics, we consulted with SDSU PHE and used some of their materials as the basis for game questions and answers.

Content Analysis

Content Type Content Elements Game Elements
Fact Birth control types
STD protection technologies
Room Cards
Concepts Sexual abuse, harassment and rape
Birth control and contraceptive choices
Hot to protect against STDs
Peer pressure and coercion
Interpersonal relationships
Room Cards
Principles Manners and etiquette
Sexual consent
Room Cards
Probabilities Rolling the dice, chance cards
Context A college party without supervision in which players encounter scenarios which compromise their sexual health or safety. The board is designed around the rooms in a house party.
Vantage Points A freshman going to a house party Player ID pieces

Game Materials
(1) 6-sided die
(4) player/team ID pieces
(40) Room Question Cards – Each card has one question ( Link to questions, .pdf version in full color)
(10) Bedroom – questions about healthy communication, abuse, rape
(10) Bathroom – questions about birth control
(10) Back porch – questions about social implications, manners, etiquette and peer pressure
(10) Basement – questions about STDs and sexual health
(10) Party Foul Cards

Time Required
Set up: 3 minutes
Play: 25 – 35 minutes
Clean up: 3 minutes

Rules (see Rules, .pdf)

Young people are naturally inquisitive about the physical and emotional aspects of sex and actively seek information about these topics. While young adults may not be as interested in learning about safety-related issues, physical safety and sexual health are important topics for a young adults living away from home for the first time. Compromising Positions provides information that meets both students’ desire for information about sex and educators’ desire for students to learn about maintaining safety and health while they encounter new situations in college.

Compromising Positions attempts to pique students’ interest by presenting realistic scenarios in which they could envision themselves – a house party in which the opposite sex is present and chaperones/authoritative adults are not present. It asks questions which prompt the student to place themselves in that context and practice applying the knowledge they already have. A 1999 study at the University of Florida found that students who fail to use contraceptives fail to do so not “from ignorance but because of laziness, embarrassment or lack of communication with their partners.”

The game makes use of curiosity. It uses the general tone and layout of a fun party game to keep students engaged without distracting them from exploration of the scenarios and topic. While play is built around competition, it is more about the journey to the end (making it home safely at the end of the night) than who wins.

Design Process
The idea for this game came from Lisa Wortman’s personal experience working with college freshman as a resident advisor and a University Seminar instructor. In this role, Lisa was bombarded with students who had sexual health questions and didn’t know where to find answers. To address this need, she would organize 50-minute health education and wellness presentations facilitated by SDSU Peer Heath Educators (PHE). PHEs provided the materials and engaged the attendees in fun and interactive lessons.

Inspired by the PHEs’ out-of-the-box teaching approach, Lisa interviewed Angela Guzman, director of the PHE program. Angela provided information about the most requested topics on sexual health such as contraceptives and STDs, and included a series of handouts the PHEs routinely distribute. Additionally, she described learning strategies that work for the college-age audience, such as experiential learning techniques to teach students the procedure for putting on a condom. Angela liked the board game concept because she believes there aren’t enough informal educational tools available to teach this subject by stimulating learner engagement. This validates our research, which shows that the majority of sex games are novelty items promoting the action of sexual intercourse and disregards the complications of sexual wellness. The US Patent website, Game Crafters, and various search engine listings produced trivial results of existing wellness games. Through the PHE materials, our research on university websites and sex education sites like Planned Parenthood (, we were able to compile the information necessary to support the game design and organize the content into categories and individual questions.

Each team member’s personal experience brought a new perspective in developing the game. For instance, one team member went to a same sex high school and college and was never formally taught this information but figured it out through life experience. Another team member grew up in a liberal household and was exposed to sexual wellness throughout high school and even more in college. Another member g grew up in a more conservative home that followed the philosophy “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Each team member contributed valuable ideas that would influence all levels of learner engagement and participation.

During our design process our team went through many iterations of what style of game we wanted to develop. Ideas ranged from a role playing game to Jeopardy style. After carefully considering the material and the taboo nature surrounding sexual wellness, we decided on a more traditional linear game involving question cards and social interaction. The materials Angela provided were organized into wellness categories and used to create the room card questions. The context of the game was chosen because it represents the real-world scenario – a college party – that our audience may find themselves in.

Choosing the appropriate type of questions pose a challenge to promote social interaction among players. We quickly became dissatisfied with the traditional non-engaging and trivial multiple choice and true/false questions. Once we established that we wanted to encourage players to explore more realistic scenarios and their responses to those scenarios, we determine that the role of the facilitator needed to be expanded to assess player answers and facilitate discussion around those topics. Since we wanted the game to be realistic and go beyond factual question and answer, we created open ended and role-play questions. These types of questions are meant to spur additional facilitator explanation and group conversation. Many of these questions have multiple correct answers and/or are subjective. This highlights the purpose of the game – to help players feel more comfortable talking with their peers (friends, partners, strangers) about sexual health and wellness.

The design process had three stages:

  1. A storyboard rendering
    1. Added our elegance techniques including:
      • Movement through space and shortcuts- players can move in any direction they choose. Multiple players may compete for the same ROOM CARD space from different paths on the board.
      • Obstacles- Players who land on a PARTY FOWL card may get extra assistance to win or pushed back. Players need to have the exact role amount to land on a ROOM CARD or HOME space.
      • Prizes- Player need to collect one room card from each of the four rooms.
    2. Met with our SME, Angela who gave us advice and materials.
    3. Created the 50 game questions.
  2. A detailed prototype
    1. A detailed game board design
    2. Edited the 50 questions and created the question cards
    3. Play tested the game- Feedback was gathered during the scheduled EDTEC 670 class time, and from SDSU freshman and sophomores who were given access to the game board and question cards in an informal environment set up in the Division of Undergraduate Studies.
    4. Examples of feedback:
      • The game board did not have enough spaces to support a 6-sided die. More spaces need to be added so the player cannot jump from one room to the next in one roll.
      • Is there room on the game board to designate a place for the question cards or should they sit outside the board?
      • What if the player feels uncomfortable playing the game, are there alternative rules if a player does not want to answer a question?
      • How will open-ended and role-play questions be assessed if my answer is not written on the card?
  3. Final product
    1. Edited the game board based on feedback, such as:
      • To increase the number of spaces on the board we added additional spaces throughout each room.
      • To minimize player discomfort we included alternative rules that the game can be played in teams allowing a group response.
      • Developed more concrete assessment strategies to score open-ended and role-playing questions.
    2. Finalized our directions and rules


  • We used information provided by SDSU’s Student Health Services (SHS) for the content of our game. These materials are used by Peer Health Educators, students who educate other students about sexual health topics.
  • There is no shortage of information on the internet about sexual health and safety. Since we envisioned educators using this game within the context of a formal training curriculum, we decided to base the course questions on the SDSU SHS materials.
  • Family Sex Education Game. This family game uses objects such as tokens and question cards. The game seems to be dated and out of touch with the current mainstream society standards.
  • This game focuses on HIV and AIDS prevention and includes information such as how to properly use a condom. The target audience is 7-11 years old.
  • · Contraception is from the United Kingdom and targets high school students from 13-16 years of age.The game focuses on the use of contraception but criticism by those who say the game won’t help prevent STD’s or unwanted pregnancy. The game is designed in an informal way to make the players feel more comfortable.

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