High School Story, a free game app aimed at teen girls, launched a new version of its game on Thursday addressing eating disorders and body image issues. The story line, written with input from the National Eating Disorders Association, exposes the game’s 10 million players to plot lines that deal with common scenarios teens encounter in high school: extreme dieting, body hatred, and the desire to digitally alter images to slim thighs or a bulging belly.
Players get to know a cheerleader who had anorexia in the past that’s re-triggered by a seemingly innocuous comment from a football player as they pose for yearbook photos. (He tells her she’s too heavy for him to hold in a particular position.)
After seeing a scenario, players are asked to answer questions about what’s going on and how they would respond to particular dilemmas.
“The eating disorder experts reviewed the scripts to make sure we discussed body image and eating disorders in a responsible way,” said Oliver Miao, CEO of Pixelberry, the maker of High School Story. For example, the experts told them to take out details about the cheerleader’s food restriction behaviors so that teens wouldn’t be inadvertently encouraged to follow the same diet.
“We also provide resources they can use to get more information on eating disorders and body image issues or how to talk to a friend with problems,” Miao said. Players can ask questions directly through the game’s support chat service.