A crucial element of reproductive justice advocacy is developing compassion and empathy for women and trans men whose experiences are completely different from your own. The creators of a new, research-based, free-to-play web game seek to contribute to that goal by exposing users to the plights of Texans attempting to exercise their reproductive health rights.
Funded by an Indiegogo campaign, Choice: Texas allows users to select one of five female characters, each facing different socioeconomic, geographic, and legal circumstances (currently, only two characters have been released).
Learn more about Choice: Texas after the jump.According to the creators of the game, “Choice: Texas is an educational interactive fiction game addressing reproductive healthcare access in the state of Texas. Players navigate the states reproductive healthcare system trough one of five fictional Texas women.”
Currently, users can play Choice: Texas as either Latrice, a Houston attorney in a stable relationship, or Leah, a 19-year-old bartender living with her family in a small town.
For Latrice and Leah, players read about the characters' circumstances and make the decision to terminate the pregnancy, raise the baby, or give the baby up for adoption. Each path comes with its own set of personal and legal challenges—if Leah chooses to have an abortion, for example, she must quit her job to take four days off for travel.
Each storyline details the difficulties and the complicated decision-making process that accompanies an unplanned pregnancy (or, in one character's case, a health complication with a planned pregnancy).
Although I believe Choice: Texas can be a useful tool for helping users better understand the labyrinth of Texas reproductive healthcare regulations, I couldn't overlook two glaring omissions: A clear trigger warning and a storyline exploring a trans man's experience with pregnancy.
The first paragraph of Leah's storyline details a sexual assault experience by a respected member of her community. Although the Choice: Texas website does include a “Content Note” page, a more explicit trigger warning on the character's page would be helpful for users who wish to avoid reading about certain traumatic experiences.
Second, if the objective of the game is to help players better understand the life experiences of Texans facing reproductive health crises, a trans character could be an incredibly useful addition. The experiences of trans men are far too often overlooked in discussions of reproductive justice. Choice: Texas has a wonderful opportunity to enlist the assistance of trans Texans in helping to shape a comprehensive narrative about a trans person's experiences with reproductive healthcare.