Tax-funded $100,000 video game tackles gender, environmental issues

Robby Soave | Reporter

A taxpayer-funded computer game produced by Spelman College features a black female protagonist battling the evil forces of climate change and gender issues.

Spelman College, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta, won a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to create an interactive computer game featuring a black female superhero. The game, which is called “HERadventure,” will be released on March 8 in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Spelman College did not respond to requests for comment, but a press release from the college describes the game as “a science fiction-based, multimedia platform project that… tackles social issues that permeate the daily reality of many women.”

“What would happen if the societal issues affecting women put other planets at risk? Well, of course, HER, a black female superhero, would swoop in with a plan to save the universe,” according to the press release.

Dr. Ayoka Chenzira, who teaches film production at Spelman, headed the project. In a statement, she said the storyline for the game was inspired by thinking about how issues that affect women — like discrimination and eating disorders — harm the planet.

“What we do on Earth impacts the universe − not just pollution destroying the ozone layer, for example, but our thoughts and how we organize gender roles and social systems also have impact,” she said.

But some say the game is waste of taxpayer’s money.

“Although it is the smorgasbord of politically correct elements that makes this project entertaining to write about, the bottom line is that the government has taken $100,000 from the taxpayers and given it to someone to develop a video game,” wrote Jeryl Bier of Speak With Authority, a conservative blog.

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Joe Pitts was among the first criticize the game when the NEA first announced it last April. At a time when the federal government is facing huge deficits, spending tax dollars on state-sponsored art is inexcusable, he said.

“Once again, the deficit will total more than $1 trillion this year,” he wrote in a statement. “For every dollar in spending, we borrow around 40 cents, much of it from foreign nations. That means that China is paying for a piece of that NEA video game.”

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