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The Oldest Game - A Game About Sex Workers

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The Oldest Game is a game about the lives of sex workers. It bravely attempts to explore the complex issue of the legalization of the sex trade in Ontario and Quebec. There should be more games like The Oldest Game.

Using video games as a platform to educate about complex issues is something that I find extremely inspiring. Studies have proven that people learn faster and retain more knowledge of information if passed through the medium of play. The Oldest Game uses gameplay mechanics from the role-playing game genre to help the player identify, sympathise and understand the struggles, Andrea, the main character, goes through. Players will interact with clients, get a glimpse of the struggles Andrea faces and make decisions based on those inner struggles. Video games have the unique ability to tap into the player's inner dialogue; it also offers a non-confrontational platform for reflection and contemplation.

But why take on the topic of the troubles sex workers?

The Oldest Game is the brainchild of a group of people, led by Associate Professors Lisa Lynch and Sandra Gabriele. The concept for The Oldest Game is a direct result of Bill C-36 (Canada) The bill removes safeguards and exposes sex workers to even more abuse - while the bill is supposed to protect them.

"The Oldest Game allows the player to assume the identity of a sex worker and experience exactly how the legislation will impact the life and work of those it most directly affects. Through various encounters with clients, colleagues and law enforcement in three different Canadian cities, players will experience how the legislation changes the way sex workers live and work, and play through the additional challenges sex workers will face when trying to remain safe."

Let's think about what The Oldest Game will aim to do through the medium of a video game.

A video game will confront people to think beyond their comfort zone. Perhaps it will challenge people to think about something that they've never had before. But most of all, The Oldest Game will give us a glimpse into the troubled hearts of a group of people that most consider not worthy to think about - now that is extraordinary.


Most people dismiss sex workers as evil, deserving of the way people treat them, as victims of abuse, or the cause of many social problems. The Oldest Game aims to de-demonise sex workers. The player will take on the role of a sex worker, "understanding their ability to make choices and their potential to be active agents in control of their own lives." Bill C-36 prevents sex workers from making those choices.

The Oldest Game is also not flippant about hard questions like:

  • How can we normalize sex work while conveying the dangers associated with it?
  • Does creating this game with a distinct focus on empathy towards sex workers give players sufficient room to form their own conceptions on issues of prostitution? 
  • Will this game, with its strong bias on empathy for prostitution, be able to attract those whose opinions it is most striving to affect?

The Oldest Game will be a web-based newsgame, no release date has yet been confirmed. Here's a look at what players can expect.


Whatever your opinion about sex workers, The Oldest Game will challenge you to understand a marginalized group of people better, and that's always a good thing.

Source: The Oldest Game

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