The Oldest Game - Creating A Newsgame about Sex Work in Canada

TOG at Arcade 11

by Sadie Couture

We finally have a finished game! Our team has been working hard in the past months finishing this large, and at times unruly, project. We’ve been working on randomizing the experiences, integrating the interview audio, and adding some finishing touches to the ending.

We managed to get the game ready enough to present it at Arcade 11, a a five-day event put on by members of Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG) and the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology. As a part of the  Montréal joue game festival, Arcade 11’s theme for this year was research and research/creation, which fits so well with TOG, a game which so much research has gone into!

The event took place at Concordia’s 4TH SPACE, and was a resounding success. Lots of people played the game, we got to engage with players, and hear their feedback.

Many thanks to the TAG Lab for these images, and if you’re interested in seeing more you check out their flickr with all the images from Arcade 11!

We are doing a few more sessions of playtesing, both remotely and in person, and are hoping to have the game released in May 2019!

Interview update!

by Sadie Couture

The Oldest Game team has been busy conducting interviews for a vital aspect of the game: including the voices of those with lived experience as sex workers.

The people we have spoken to so far have been incredibly generous with their time and insights, sharing with us their experiences of doing sex work in Canada. Many of the themes we identified in our research have come up during these interviews, but these conversations provide even more complexity. We have heard from sex workers first-hand about the misconceptions around violence in sex work, as well as the huge impact stigma has on their lives. Further, we have seen the incredible diversity of sex workers, their backgrounds, and their lives.

After we finish our interviews, we will be integrating the insights of these sex workers into the game as new scenarios, as well as audio and textual samples. As this is a newsgame, (a serious game about a news issue) we are experimenting with how we can include quotes from stakeholders in this format. We are hoping that the audio and textual excerpts from these interviews will function as a textual quote in an article, or an interview on televised news does, providing a perspective from those involved in the issue. For TOG, this is an important aspect of our foray into this medium, and is invaluable in providing direct, lived experiences from real people who are living the lives we are attempting to represent.

We are so grateful to the people who have participated so far. We know that sex workers are often over-researched and that their lives are the subject of much analysis. We hope that we can use these interviews as a way of amplifying the voices of sex workers, and their honest and complex world-views. These perspectives, above all, are the ones that we need to hear in response to policies such as Bill C-36 and SESTA/FOSTA. We aim to give accurate representation towards these voices in our game in return.

Back in Production!

by Sadie Couture

So, after a long hiatus, The Oldest Game is back in production! We’ve got a team made up of some original members and some new ones, and we are hitting the ground running to finish this game and release it.

However, some aspects of the game need to be changed, added to, and re-evaluated for the current context. Specifically, Bill C-36, the controversial piece of legislation introduced by Stephen Harper’s government, has been in place for some time now (it received Royal Assent 6 November 2014), and we think it’s important to make apparent in the game, how this legislation is affecting the lives of sex workers. To understand these changes, we are in the process of surveying new publications which highlight the changing context of sex work in Canada. We are looking at academic work, legal publications, and reading up on news releases and the work by sex worker advocacy organizations. We are going to change some of our existing scenarios, and add some new ones to reflect the changing realities of doing sex work in Canada.

After some reflection and feedback, we’ve also decided that integral to the game is including the voices of sex workers in some capacity. The thinking is: in a newspaper article, journalists collect quotes from stakeholders offering an opportunity for those affected by an issue to voice their opinion and have their perspectives represented. In The Oldest Game right now, we don’t have anything performing this function. So, we’ve decided to pursue an audio version of a quote, gathered from sex workers about the conditions of their work. This decision is based on an interest in exploring and expanding the conventions of the quote in the newsgame format, and on the feminist principle of including and centering the voices of those affected by issues in research and discussion. Some of the voices you will eventually hear will be those of sex workers; for those who don’t wish to include their voice, but want their perspectives to be part of the game, their comments will be distorted or re-recorded by an actor.

Team members in Vancouver, Montreal and possibly Toronto (the locations of the game) will be reaching out to sex workers to hear their perspectives, stories, and opinions for inclusion in the game. If you’re interested in having your voice be a part of it, reach out to us at

The option of anonymity and a small honorarium will be provided.