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Sex ed video game is ALMOST a really good idea

Okay, we admit it: When we first read about an abstinence video game in development down in Florida, we were ready to jump all over what a ridiculous idea it was. As if abstinence-only education needed to be removed even further from reality! As if abstinence-only education really deserved another $434,000 federal dollars! Etc.

But when we watched the (ahem, Fox News) segment closely, we realized that the video game’s heart might be in the right place after all. The idea of the game is to teach middle-school girls how to recognize and rebuff sexual innuendo, middle-school come-ons, unwelcome make-out sessions, etc. Which is, we have to admit, a pretty admirable goal. In fact, we know many 20-something women who could use similar coaching. The game is supposed to teach kids how to fight peer pressure in an environment with no peer pressure; players (not playas) wear motion capture suits and win points for developing certain social skills. (Like, say, the Heisman?)

Of course, we’re already cringing at what the academics at the University of Central Florida have come up with for their sexual innuendo dialogue and pick-up lines. How can it possibly not make middle-schoolers point and laugh? It’s hard enough for multi-million dollar movies and TV shows to get this stuff sounding legit.

But more importantly — and unfortunately — is the fact that this video is part of a program to promote sexual abstinence among kids. Don’t get us wrong: We’re all for promoting abstinence among kids — especially middle schoolers! — as long as it’s not taught in isolation. But study after study after study has shown that abstinence-only education plain does not work.

So if this video game — which employs simulation and digital puppetry — is part of a series which also includes, say, tips on how to walk away from sex if the guy refuses to wear a condom; how to intelligently, honestly, and bravely discuss one’s sexual history; and how to put a condom on your partner… well, consider us on board. But we are not hopeful — and until then (the game is set to debut in the spring 2011), we will have to reserve judgment.