An inventive board game is educating kids about periods and breaking down the stigma around menstruation.
The Period Game brands itself as a positive learning experience that teaches participants about the menstrual cycle and the everyday considerations individuals face while on their periods.
“Everyone was tasked with making a game about the body,” Gilsanz told HuffPost. The game about the menstrual cycle that she and Murphy created initially discomforted some of their classmates, she said, “which surprised us, as we were all in our 20s at art-school, but it proved that there was still a long way to go in how we talk about periods.”
“Watching our peers get more comfortable with the subject while playing the game clued us in that we made a tool that might help move us forward. Then watching that same pattern happen again and again as we tested with young people really reaffirmed that we were onto something,” Gilsanz said.
Over the past two years, the two creators have tweaked and tested the game and prepared for manufacturing. In its current form, the game features four types of “period protection cards” like tampons and menstrual cups, 11 “PMS cards” that offer coping advice like “take a hot shower” or “drink plenty of water,” player pieces in shapes like ‘period undies’ and ‘pads,’ an educational booklet, a centerpiece modeled after the uterus and more.
Gilsanz said they’ve played the game with over 200 students, as well as health educators, gynecologists and child psychologists.
“In playing the game with young people, we’ve heard so many different period stories, and had the fortune of seeing boys and girls shout ‘I want my period’ at the top of their lungs,” she said. “We also had a fourth grader try to buy it on the spot, and an 8th grader understand what PMS was for the first time, to extreme relief that she wasn’t alone.”
The game is primarily geared toward prepubescent young people, but can offer an educational experience for anyone who decides they could learn a little more about the body. Parents and teachers are also encouraged to play along.
“The game helps break down the barriers between everyone playing and can often lead to honest conversations in the classroom between students and teachers, or at home between parents and children,” Gilsanz said.
The Period Game also aims to foster a taboo-free environment and make young people feel more comfortable saying words like “tampon” and “period.”
“We hope that young people of all genders will have a better understanding of menstruation. Forty-eight percent of women never had a conversation about periods or what to expect before their first period, and in 2019 that’s no longer OK,” Gilsanz said. “It’s important that everyone understands what’s happening in the menstruating body.”
For now, the creators are focused on reaching their $35,000 Kickstarter goal so that they can produce a first run of games and bring the product to market. But they ultimately want to make younger generations more comfortable, prepared and aware when it comes to periods.
“Our longer term goal is to change the way we teach menstruation and help bust the period taboo,” Gilsanz said. “We want the next generation to not feel that they have to hide tampons in their sleeves!”