The period stigma is real, and can have a significant impact on young girls who are experiencing menstruation for the first time. For far too long, women worldwide have been taught to hide their periods, causing embarrassment and, worse, a misunderstanding of the natural experience. But the creators of “The Period Game,” a board game centered on menstruation education, are on a mission to change that.
The project began in 2014 when designers Daniela Gilsanz and Ryan Murphy were students at the Rhode Island School of Design and instructed to create a game relating to the human body. After their fellow classmates reacted positively to their project, the pair realized how beneficial a period board game could be in the market. Gilsanz and Murphy created a prototype in 2016 and went on to launch the Kickstarter campaign, with a goal of raising $35,000.
“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,” Gilsanz told The Huffington Post. “Then watching that same pattern happen again and again as we tested with young people really reaffirmed that we were onto something.”
The game has gone through multiple rounds of testing since, but currently, it’s laid out as a journey through a four-week cycle. Players take turns twisting the ovary-shaped centerpiece to release a marble, determining where in the cycle they begin. The game is also comprised of various cards, such as “period protection cards” (tampons and menstrual cups) and “PMS cards” (which offer advice for soothing PMS symptoms).
But The Period Game is not meant only to be educational: Its creators hope to help young girls (and boys!) become more comfortable talking about previously-shushed topics. “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,” Gilsanz says. “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.”
Women’s health literacy has been receiving more attention culturally; Period. End of Sentence., a film about the period stigma in India, recently won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short. And, clearly, these conversations are needed. A 2014 study found that nearly half of women ages 16-24 didn’t know what was happening to them when they got their first period, and 76 percent felt embarrassed when they learned about periods in school.
Hopefully, we’re witnessing what’s just the beginning of a movement toward period positivity.