Speak Up is a game that addresses the many emotional and psychological barriers that may prevent children from disclosing abuse to their trusted adults. It is a puzzle-based platform game, designed for side-by-side play (two people at one computer keyboard) so that the player can play it with one of hisher trusted adults. In the classroom, two children can play the game together.
Each level represents a scenario where an alien child has been sexually abused. The game begins with an intro, in which the player sees an alien child and some alien adults talking. At the end of the intro, an “invisible wall” builds between the aliens, representing the psychological barrier that prevents the alien child from disclosing a “need to tell” situation. The aim of the game is for the player to break down this wall. The wall is broken down brick by brick, by matching an object with its matching star. When they are picked up, objects explain what the alien child is thinking or feeling, and stars give advice on how to deal with these thoughts or feelings. The child player collects the objects while the adult player collects the stars.
In addition, the trusted adult has special powers they can use to help the child solve the level. These are introduced gradually through the levels. The abilities are:
- Togetherness – teleports the adult and child to the starting point
- Listening – checks to see if the object the child is carrying is a match with the star the adult is carrying. The child and adult must be close together to activate this ability
- Understanding – the adult supports the child by allowing the child to jump onto his/her shoulders
- Believing – enables the child to jump higher
- Courage – the adult protects the child from danger. The child can now walk safely past scary things.