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Clarisse Thorn is a Chicago-based, feminist, sex-positive activist and educator. Personal blog at; follow her on Twitter @clarissethorn; you can also buy her awesome book about pickup artists or her awesome best-of collection, The S&M Feminist.
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5 Responses

  1. Juliet Blalack
    Juliet Blalack May 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm |

    This is a fun fantasy, and I would definitely rather people play it than WOW or something, but is playing a game really doing anything about these issues? Or do the producers at least encourage people to donate some time and money to organizations that are fighting this battle IRL?

  2. Lynn Harris
    Lynn Harris May 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm |

    Hi guys — Clarisse, thanks for the great post, and Juliet, for the great question. Breakthrough itself actually IS (as Clarisse noted) a human rights organization that uses the tools of pop culture and media to inspire individuals to get engaged and active around issues of social justice. We believe that (and so goes our tagline) that “It starts with you.” So in fact, with this and our other projects (including, e.g., and we’re already encouraging folks to do more than donate (though donation is great too). We’re encouraging them to act themselves to advance human rights, whether by opposing unjust US immigration policies or ringing the bell (literally or figuratively) on domestic violence behind closed doors. So we’re fighting these battles IRL, too, as you say–just with different tools and targets than other great orgs like, say, Amnesty.

    But enough about Breakthrough! There’s tons of research suggesting that it’s precisely the immersive experience of gaming — more so than the passive experience of TV, say (and don’t get me wrong; I LOVE TV) — that encourages players to try on new identities, solve complex problems creatively, discover new empathies, and thus re-enter the “real” world with altered attitudes and inspired to take action. For more info and tons of examples beyond the (groundbreaking! game-changing!) America 2049, you might check out Their big annual festival, pretty much the Sundance of social-justice games, is coming to New York in June.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Patti
    Patti May 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm |

    Thanks for posting about this game. I’ve been playing it on FB off and on this afternoon. Nicely done!

  4. Lisa
    Lisa May 17, 2011 at 11:49 pm |

    Just wanted to respond as another participant- I organized the “real life” event at the Hull-House Museum, and we had over 70 people attend an intense panel on human trafficking. It isn’t the same thing as advocacy, but I absolutely believe that education and dialogue count as “doing something.”

    I was really excited about the way that Breakthrough was able to support and provide a wider audience for our social justice work, and I hope the other sites participating have benefited as well.

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