Last summer, two members of the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program produced a viral, headline-grabbing video game called Tampon Run and created quite a buzz. Through the Pivotal for Good (P4G) technology philanthropy program, the two high school students were able to collaborate with Pivotal Labs on a Pivotal for Good (P4G) program to develop the mobile version of their app, which is being announced today.
The two game creators, Sophie Houser and Andrea Gonzales, were accepted into the nonprofit’s 2014 program, where they spent seven weeks of their summer break. The aim of the program is to close the gender gap in technology by encouraging young women to learn how to code. Like hundreds of other participants, they spent time learning about a variety of technologies, attending workshops and presentations, going on field trips, and getting mentored by top-notch, female professionals. For their final project, the two teenage New Yorkers came up with the idea, built the hit, 8-bit video game, and posted it to TamponRun.com.
The Game’s Purpose
While the gameplay offers humor and may catch some off guard, the purpose of the game is much greater than its name implies—to combat the taboo around menstruation. “Our goal from the beginning has been to reach as wide an audience as possible to provoke thought and discussion about the menstrual taboo, and to encourage more girls to learn to code,” Houser said. Speaking from experience at a local TEDx Youth Talk, Gonzales shared how periods still cause embarrassment and shame, and the game’s opening screen tells their message clearly to anyone who plays, “Hopefully one day, menstruation will be as normal, if not more so, than guns and violence have become in our society; normal enough to place in a video game without a second thought.”
The iOS game will work much like the web-based one they created last year. Basically, users control the main character, Luna, who collects and throws tampons at oncoming enemies that are trying to confiscate her tampons. Along the way, Luna can get more boxes of tampons so that she doesn’t run out. For the iOS version, several features are being added—gameplay will get harder over time, flying enemies will exist, a leaderboard will be added, and new, originally composed music will be included.
Pivotal for Good—Supporting The Girls Who Code Cause
The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is sponsored, hosted, and implemented by partners like Akamai, AT&T, Facebook, GE, IAC, IBM, and Pixar. Last year, Girls Who Code students in San Francisco paid a visit to Pivotal’s office to learn more about agile development and data science. For Pivotal, this is the type of program we rally around and support—one that values diversity, inclusiveness, technology, and helping the next generation while supporting an important message for young women.
Catherine McGarvey, NYC Office Director at Pivotal Labs said: “Pivotal values diversity and enjoyed supporting an initiative that fosters inclusiveness in the tech industry. We really enjoyed working with Sophie and Andy. They were both able to see the value in our pair programming and agile development practice and see their app come to life.”
This summer, the cause will reach an even greater audience because the Girls Who Code organization recently announced a major expansion with new partners and new cities—they are going to grow threefold to support 1200 girls in 2015. This is all part of their mission and goal of providing computer science education and exposure to 1 million young women by 2020. We are looking forward to helping a new group of girls learn to code.
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