Cops & Rubbers is an interactive simulation game for health and human rights advocates, health practitioners, academics, and policymakers to perspective-take as sex workers and that advocates against the criminalization of condoms. The game demonstrates the real consequences related policing tactics have on sex workers – including violence, extortion, and increased vulnerability to HIV infection.

The Criminalization of Condoms

Sex workers across the world must often make a dangerous choice between protecting their health and avoiding police harassment or arrest. In many countries, police treat condoms as contraband, confiscating or destroying condoms they find on sex workers during both legal and illegal searches. Prosecutors may use confiscated condoms as criminal evidence of prostitution.

Cops & Rubbers is a roleplaying game, designed by Lien Tran, based on research conducted by Open Society Foundations' SHARP program partners in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Russia, and USA, and includes quotes from actual sex workers in these countries who have suffered violations to their public health rights and human rights because of this policy.

Since its launch at the 2012 International AIDS Conference, the tabletop version of Cops and Rubbers has been played by hundreds of people across 6 continents. Players often develop empathy for sex workers by playing from their perspective and by making difficult choices that jeopardize their health in order to fulfill their basic needs.

Order your own copy - or play the online version - today and share it with your community!

Meaningful Play Best Overall Non-Digital Award, 2014
Once you actually start playing the game ... you start advocating for sex workers in a way because you start making choices that a person in the sex work industry would make.

- South Africa advocacy leader
[Cops and Rubbers] is humanizing sex workers in a number of different ways and I’m saying that in response to the huge stigma and bias that sex workers have just in general across societies.

- South Africa advocacy leader
[Cops and Rubbers] also resembles a lot to our own life.

- South Africa advocacy leader
It's not just a game, it's a sad reality.

- AIDS 2012 attendee


Cops and Rubbers is both a facilitated tabletop game for up to 6 players per game set as well as a single-player unfacilitated online game. Below are relevant links to help guide you in using the game for advocacy purposes, including reports on the condoms as evidence issue and how games like Cops and Rubbers can be used as interactive alternatives to standard advocacy tools.

Questions or comments? Please contact Lien Tran.

Game Materials

Related Research & Press