Consent can be an uncomfortable subject, an often-complex and personal form of negotiation that people rarely get a chance to practice outside the moments that precede sexual encounters. Allison Cole, Jessica Rose Marcotte and Zachary Miller of Tweed Couch Games want to help change that with In Tune, an interactive experience that asks people to "negotiate and communicate their own physical boundaries with a partner using skin-to-skin contact as the main controller of the game."
Players form teams of two with someone they trust and don "consent bracelets" that register skin contact. During the game, they're presented with a series of two-person poses that involve varying levels of touching, and must talk to their partner about what which ones they want to emulate, and which ones they want to skip.
Consent is never implicit, and can never be given or taken by only one person. Saying yes to one pose or embrace doesn't carry over to the next one, just like consent doesn't carry over between different sex acts and encounters. It's worth checking out the rules of play for In Tune, which are useful not only for the purposes of the game, but also life:
Remember: Never touch someone without their consistent, enthusiastic and freely given consent.
Consent is not a static or stagnant thing; it is a continuing negotiation of comfort levels and boundaries.
Consent is not a single action; it is a complicated continuation of actions.
Consent can evolve, can be revoked and can never be taken from you.
In Tune, which recently appeared at the Indiecade East gaming conference, offers participants a valuable framework for consent—something that both sex education programs and popular media ideas about romance tend to ignore—and an opportunity to practice it in a safe environment with structured rules. Remember: Even when people understand the idea of consent, that doesn't mean they know how to negotiate the process of giving and asking for it with ease or grace. Practice makes perfect.
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