A new video game has appeared on the market. It’s called ‘Just Say No’, its purpose is to teach young people to save themselves for marriage. The idea is to keep your virginity as you pass through a series of adventures, each level more challenging than the last. The first hurdles include a teenage crush, peer pressure, curiosity and such. If you stick to your guns and say no, you find yourself having to deal with pleading, arguments, persuasion, threats and seduction. Holding out when he gives you a diamond engagement ring poses an insurmountable problem for many players. At the highest levels, obstacles like barbiturates slipped into your soft drink and attempted rape stand in your way. One false step, give him just one inch or allow yourself to be overpowered, and you’re fucked.
If you come through them all intacta, your reward is a dream marriage. You see yourself in a white wedding gown. Your father escorts you down the aisle to where the perfect husband waits for you in front of the altar with a gold ring. The organist is playing the Wedding March from Lohengrin. Wedding bells peal.
I am told the game ends there. I have yet to make it that far; I don’t even get close. In that, at least, the game resembles real life.
“That’s all there is to it?” I asked. “No consummation?”
“They make you go through all that frustration, and what do you get for it? When I play, my only reason for not giving in is that I had sex with that one the last time I played, and I want to see who’s next in line.”
“So tell me, Lizzie, is the sex good?”
“You mean in the game? What sex? All you get is flashing lights saying you lost followed my an on-screen moral lecture. What a waste of time and money!”
“But the game is very popular. Kids say they can relate to it, that it’s exactly like what they go through every day.”
“That’s because they’re young, and the game ends when you get married. What do they know about marriage? Less than nothing. Happily ever after. No hostile in-laws, no screaming infants, no dwindling sex life, no infidelities, no ...”
“None of that should happen. You’ve won the perfect husband.”
“But how can you be sure that among all the men you’ve put off you’ve chosen the right one?”
“Because he’s a Christian.”
“What if it turns out he’s gay?”
“He won’t be. I told you: he’s a Christian.”
There’s no denying that ‘Just Say No’ is all the rage. It has proved a gold mine for the company that patented it. At the urging of an overwhelming majority of their State legislators, the game is now available on all public high school computers in Texas, Kansas and Florida, and a number of other states are expected to follow suit within the next few months. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of families who used to look on video games as the work of Satan have bought PlayStation consoles for their children. Of course the youngsters immediately go and purchase other games without their parents’ knowledge. The exact statistics have yet to be calculated, but there’s little doubt that the industry as a whole has benefitted immeasurably.
Not everyone is pleased with the game, however. Public health workers, school guidance counselors, Planned Parenthood and feminist organizations have attacked it as unrealistic (tell me about it!) and downright dangerous because it doesn’t deal with the consequences of having sex before you’re ready for it. The makers of the game say they’re working on it, and are even considering including a virtual abortion in ‘Just Say No II’. (Why would I want to terminate a virtual pregnancy? A virtual baby I can deal with.) To objections that they completely ignore safe sex practices and birth control, they reply that since the object of the game is not to have sex, such issues are irrelevant. According to them, the only safe sex is abstinence, which makes the heart grow fonder.
Some detractors point out that somewhere around eighty-five percent of kids who play the game are having real life sex already, and that for them the game is little more than an escapist mechanism to make them feel good about themselves. The makers of the game argue that it will convince that if they stop having sex it will make them feel better, to which the detractors reply, “All the more reason to make safe sex and birth control part of the game.”
So the arguments, counter-arguments and mutual accusations go on. They probably will indefinitely. The game has not been out long enough to determine if the teenage pregnancy rate has decreased, and professional ethicists unaffiliated with any religious group remind us that if it does, an argument built on the post hoc, propter hoc fallacy proves nothing. In the meantime I continue to play the game, getting a little further each time, while I wait for a rival company to come out with ‘Just Say Yes’ so I can find out how it feels to have a virtual orgasm.
Copyright: © 2009 Anel Viz
----------------------------------Anel Viz turned to writing about four years ago. His stories, prose poems and opinion pieces have been published on line and in print.