Thursday, August 29, 2013

Choice: Texas – Games Can Be Used For Something OTHER Than Fun

Concept for one of the character's in the game.

I first read about the game Choice: Texas through an article on Life News, a pro-life website that, well, focuses on life affirming causes and what not. It led me to MRC.com (the Culture and Media Institute that focuses on advancing morality and virtue in the public eye). Okay now I’ve used the MRC in the past to cite as a resource for media-oriented papers because they do, on occasion, have some pieces that are logically well-thought out and provide unbiased opinion.

Not on Choice: Texas.

The article pissed me off mostly because it focused so much on this unrealistic aspect: “the joy of infanticide.” Wait, what? Where the crap does it say that in the game’s infanticide description?

Choice: Texas is an educational interactive fiction game which will be freely available on the web. Players will explore the game through one of several characters, each of whom reflects specific socioeconomic, geographic, and demographic factors impacting abortion access in Texas. Although billed as interactive fiction, Choice: Texas is based on extensive research into healthcare access, legal restrictions, geography, and demographics, and is reflective of the real circumstances facing women in the state.”

I see nothing in that statement which glamorizes abortions (and we’re not even going to get into the use of infanticide instead of abortion. Those are two entirely different words with unique meanings). Based on the reading material and the video posted by the two developers, the game is meant to make people aware of just how backwards our health care laws and the lack of focus on women’s health really is; not just in Texas but throughout the country. Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster back in the June legislature session regarding a bill on abortion and women’s health is just the tip of the iceberg. Most people will focus on the fact that she was arguing for abortion, which is partially true. But very few people dove into the details of the law: which in essence is going to close all but 2 abortion clinics in the state of Texas because the state is going to require every facility to have extensive medical licensing on the level of a hospital, and be expected to perform any and all types of procedures. Basically: abortion clinics need to be licensed like full-fledged hospitals. I don’t think people are aware of this but most abortion clinics don’t spend all day, every day performing abortions. Know what most of them do? They provide basic health care services to women without insurance (Texas has at least 40% of women without insurance due to cost and, well, lack of giving a damn) which includes mammograms, OBGYN and cancer screenings. Now that these facilities needs to be licensed like hospitals, they can’t afford to keep the doors open. The ones that can stay open, all two of them, are the high-end clinics; the ones that don’t treat low-income and non-insurance holders. The filibuster was done to keep the facilities open not for abortions but for the 40% of women in this state who don’t have insurance. For the 70% of women that live in low-income or poverty level earnings and can’t afford to visit a regular doctor for life-saving basic check-ups. That is the issue. And because that law was signed into action in July, after a few people made changes to prevent another filibuster, most women in Texas are no longer receiving the bare minimum of healthcare assurance, a right for every person in accordance with the laws of this country.

So to claim that Choice: Texas is glorifying abortions is not only arrogant, but ignorant. The game allows players to choose a character and follow through their story, ranging from a women in her mid-thirties, with a good life, but decides she doesn’t want any children, to a young adult living at the line of poverty who can’t afford to have a child (oh, BTW Texas Legislature, for every child that is born now, guess who gets to foot the bill? You and the rest of the citizens of this state: keep that in mind when more people go on welfare).

And a game does not always have to be fun to be a game. I know a number of games that are enjoyable but in no ways “fun.” Gaming is a new medium for telling a story. Would you say that the movies Inglorious Bastards and 2001: A Space Odyssey are fun movies? Most likely not, but they are powerful pieces of cinema that will remain for generations to come. Games are in that spectrum as well. So to lump game and fun together is a misnomer.

I have a lot of respect for these women for wanting to develop such a game, and applaud their courage, particularly for living in Texas when we’re all ready to pack our bags and leave for a state that might at least give a 10% “We give a damn” attitude. I hope they reach their goal. We need more games that push the issues and allow us to think, possibly change our world.

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