ADRIFT: Learning Consent Without the Trauma

An interview with the developers of the award winning consent game ADRIFT.

In 2017, we had the privilege of bringing one of our more successful games to life – in more ways than one. In ADRIFT, you play as a member of an interstellar salvage crew exploring an abandoned spaceship. Since then, the game has been played and downloaded thousands of times and in 2019, the MOD. museum at the University of South Australia built a life-size version for their patrons to play and experience. As our director, Drew Crecente, has said, one of the best parts of ADRIFT is that people can learn about consent without being traumatized in the process. What Life Love Publishing aims to do is publish pro-social games; these are games that look at positive and constructive messages, with no overt violent imagery. 

The player in ADRIFT

We recently got to sit down with the original developers, Quinn Crossley (he/him and they/them) and Andrew Connell (he/him), and hear what they’ve been up to. The designers, former roommates, and good friends shared a bit about life post-ADRIFT and their tips for aspiring game developers.

Let’s Talk About Space, Baby

We started off by asking Connell and Crossley what drew them to our Non-Violent Gaming Competition, and if they had experience with prosocial gaming before. They both expressed that, while the term “prosocial gaming” was new to them, they had been working in game development for educational purposes already. The competition gave them a tangible goal to start working towards. “We have the skillset, we have the time . . . both of us want to make things that matter,” Connell said. 

Now, why are we talking about consent on a spaceship? Crossley asserts that the choice to be on a spaceship, interacting with computers is very intentional. Who we interact with can influence the direction of a conversation. The conversation isn’t grounded in a familiar reality – unless you’ve been an explorer on an abandoned spaceship, of course. This allows for the discussion of consent to occur in a new light, “symbolism in a different context,” says Connell. 

Can you successfully navigate the puzzles in ADRIFT?

The two had previously worked on a game called Managing at Home. You play as a cancer patient navigating the first three days of chemotherapy, from what food they eat to how they cope with the side effects. Crossley shared that the game involved a lot of consent-adjacent conversations, like bodily autonomy, decision making, and bigger questions on how we treat ourselves and others.

Bringing ADRIFT to Life

ADRIFT was published in September 2017 and as far as the games’ designers were concerned that was the end of the story. But then “. . . we just get this email at like 3 in the morning, on a random weekday from some museum in Australia . . . we didn’t think this project had any more happening with it!” Crossley shared. “We wanted to make a little change in the world and this got way more attention than we ever anticipated.” They both shared that they were used to working the other way around – an organization would commission them and outline exactly what they needed. This time, someone sought them out. “It was really validating in a way,” says Connell. ADRIFT has had much success, but originally placed fourth in the original competition. “To see that it’s gone this far is really surprising.” 

Recreation of the consent game ADRIFT for the Hedonism exhibition at Australia's museum MOD.
ADRIFT brought to life at MOD.

The museum exhibit, entitled hedonism, launched in October 2019, exploring themes of healthy sexual relationships and consent. A life-size version of ADRIFT was born, relabeled as F. A. B. L. E.:

“Welcome, Operative, to F.A.B.L.E. – aka the Federated Association of Believers, Leaders, and Explorers. Your mission is simple: teleport on board this foreign spaceship and connect with the alien. As you explore this new world, there are protocols to follow. Make sure you check in with the alien as you go, follow the principles of consent, and achieve a two-way flow of information that will benefit both of our races.”


On Being Game Developers

When we asked them what the best and worst parts of being a game developer were, Connell immediately answered, “all of it” while Crossley laughed in agreement. They both agreed that the feedback can be the best and most difficult part of being game developers. Crossley shares that he loves seeing how people emotionally react to their work, even if it’s frustration. It’s wonderful for them to see how games can create bonds between people. “It’s cool to put something out in the word for people to connect over, but at the same time it’s hard to manage all the feedback…You can’t make everyone happy,” he shares. “I like making people feel stuff but also…it’s hard.”

Connell agrees, “we like to make people feel stuff, but we don’t want people’s feedback to make us feel too many things back. It can feel great to help people but since you put so much time and energy into it, it can feel really bad when it doesn’t go well.”

“It’s vulnerable for sure, but it can be really rewarding. You have to harness a lot of strength to share those pieces of yourself,” Crossley adds. 

Advice For New Developers

It can take time to develop that strength for newer developers. Crossley says that any time you put your art there, you are being vulnerable. Connell adds that it’s easy to feel vulnerable because you’re opening yourself up to criticism whenever you put yourself on the internet. The gaming industry can be a tough industry for newcomers. 

The gaming industry can be a tough industry for newcomers . . . it can be easy to push yourself hard enough to burn out. 

Andrew Connell and Quin Crossley, developers of ADRIFT

It can be a competitive fast-paced industry, and when you’re new, it can be easy to push yourself hard enough to burn out. People come in with a lot of passion, but it can come at the expense of their health. Crossley candidly shares that learning boundaries is one way to be successful in life, though it can be hard to apply those boundaries in a work setting. 

What tips do these two have for people wanting to break into the industry? Make something and put it out there, says Connell. You’re a game developer by making games, not just thinking about them. It’s a competitive field where success is based on your improvement and your output. Get involved, go to game jams – there is more value in just doing what you love, rather than focusing on what looks good on your resume. However, he adds, work in the environment that works for you. Don’t force yourself to fit somewhere that creates stress for you.

You’re a game developer by making games, not just thinking about them.

“Perfect is the enemy of good,” Crossley adds. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing even if the outcome isn’t perfect. Successful designers don’t necessarily have the strongest skills, but they put themselves out there and aren’t afraid to jump onto projects and participate. Taking risks is a large part of moving forward in the gaming industry.

Where Are They Now?

“I miss you!” Crossley exclaimed, when asked if they were still working together. Life has changed for these two – distance, the pandemic, and general growth have led to them working in very different careers in different parts of the country, although working together again is certainly not out of the question. Neither is a sequel to ADRIFT

“We played with that years ago…it is a possibility,” says Connell. 

“It sounds like it’s out there, helping people and making an impact, so yeah I’d keep following it,” says Crossley. 

Connell is currently working as a simulation engineer for an advanced learning company, and makes educational Youtube videos. He’s even created a learning course for Unity, a game development engine. His long-term goal is to have a life that lets him create in a healthy way – “I’m finally getting to the stage of making things for me, making things that make people feel something, and appeal to me on a deeper level.”

A screenshot from the video game 'ADRIFT'. A dark background with a red diamond in the center. Above the diamond is the sentence: "Consent is informed, freely given, actively given, and revocable."
ADRIFT offers a useful reminder about consent.

Crossley did a couple of museum projects, and even developed some games for PBS Kids. They took a break during the COVID-19 pandemic and worked as a technical writer in the corporate world. Even more exciting, he is currently traveling and aspires to visit all 50 states. He’s already visited at least 35 with his dog. Crossley and Connell are dreaming of reuniting in Yellowstone, where they can go wolf-watching. As they work in their new roles and make plans to reunite, they can feel confident that somebody, somewhere is learning about the meaning and importance of consent through the clever little game they created.

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Gaming Against Violence is an award-winning program presented by Jennifer Ann's Group, a 501(c)3 charity [EIN: 20-4618499].
Play nowPlay in your browser or download from the
DevelopmentQuinn Crossley and Andrew Connell
Produced byJennifer Ann’s Group@stopTDV (Mastodon)
Published byLife Love Publishing@LifeLovePublish (Mastodon)
RightRating™EveryoneNo ads. No in-app purchases. No loot boxes. No privacy tracking.

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Serious Video Games Helping to Tackle Serious Issues

Grace’s Diary is a great example of how intentionally designed video games can be effective at addressing serious issues.

Video games have been found effective at raising awareness and promoting violence prevention.

Grace’s Diary has clearly impacted many adolescents who have played it.

“When Grace’s mother tells her to get back in the car… and to not bother telling Natalie’s mother, I was absolutely appalled.”

By the end I got to really despise Natalie’s boyfriend.”

“...this actually happens, and makes it so much more terrible…”

A broken phone is just one reminder of abusive behavior in Grace’s Diary.

These are just some of the comments from players of a game called Grace’s Diary. Unlike many of the more mainstream games, Grace’s Diary doesn’t feature mining, materials, shooting, or random dance moves. Instead, Grace’s Diary follows the protagonist, Grace, as she reflects on and tries to speak with her friend Natalie about Natalie’s relationship with her abusive boyfriend, Ken.

Real quotes from players:

“This game will probably be so helpful for me and my friends later on. I just hope that won’t happen to any of us.”

“…we know or will know a Natalie at some point in our lives, or are/will become a Natalie ourselves.”

“…getting the message out… that violent and controlling relationships are not normal or acceptable is fundamentally important.”

Grace sharing the National Dating Abuse Helpline number with her friend Natalie.

An initiative of the non-profit Jennifer Ann’s Group, Grace’s Diary is one of their many games which are targeted at informing and educating players around issues related to abusive dating behavior. Although most of the group’s serious video games address teen dating violence (TDV), they also cover related subjects like consent, healthy relationships, and the impact of peer pressure and social media.

While Natalie’s story is revealed through a series of observations, dialogue choices and point-and-click-puzzles, the charity is not limited to any one set approach and the games they publish tackle the issues from a variety of genres including dating-sims, lo-fi RPGs, persuasive art, and escape-the-room simulators. Important exceptions however are first-person-shooter and fighting games, which run counter to the non-violent conversation Jennifer Ann’s Group is trying to promote. 

Grace writes memos in her diary throughout the game.

With a number of recent studies highlighting the pressing concern of TDV, as well as the difficulties educational institutions have had in successfully addressing it, TDV video games are seen by the group as an effective tool to help tackle the shortfall.

“Abusive dating behaviour is a nuanced and sensitive subject,” Drew Crecente, founder and executive director of Jennifer Ann’s Group explains. “What the research has shown is that traditional learning methods alone aren’t sufficient to address it. Adolescents often don’t feel comfortable discussing dating – especially dating abuse – with their parents, let alone with teachers; if we can’t get the conversation started then raising awareness and promoting prevention is incredibly difficult.”

Lack of Awareness is a Critical Problem

Lack of awareness around the problem is a key issue, with one parental survey finding that 81% of participants either didn’t believe TDV was an issue, or admitting that they didn’t know it was an issue (Women’s Health, 2004). This is despite another study concluding that over 40% of U.S. students have been in an abusive relationship by the time they graduate from college, with nearly 1.5 million high school students physically abused by a dating partner every year (Forke, et al., 2008).

The challenges with tackling abusive dating behaviours unfortunately don’t stop there. Another study found that among teens who had been in an abusive relationship, only 32% confided in a parent. Of those that confided, 78% then went on to stay in the relationship despite the advice of their parent (Liz Claiborne Inc., 2009).

If you play Grace’s Diary, be aware that there are three possible endings.

For Educators

As for addressing the issue in a traditional educational setting, fewer than half of state schools in the U.S. are either required or encouraged to include TDV in their curriculum. In addition, even in those states where legislation has been passed requiring the development of safety plans, enforcement of protective orders, and education of students, a lack of funding has proved an issue for some school districts with implementation of these measures hindered as a result.

Even in school systems which have been able to implement TDV programs the results have been disappointing, with a recent review concluding that they were not affecting “to a significant extent” TDV perpetration and victimisation behaviours (De La Rue, et al. 2016).

This is where video games come in. By championing games that explore and dissect abusive dating behaviours, and making them free and readily available, Jennifer Ann’s Group works to draw on some of the powerful features of gaming to turn them to their advantage.

“Gaming plays a significant role in many teenagers’ lives,” says Drew, “and we’ve found that by tapping into that we can effectively help guide and nurture prosocial behaviour. Video games are engaging, they enable players to explore and progress at their own pace, and they present scenarios in a way that is contextually interesting and highly relatable. These are qualities that any educational resource should aspire to and is an objective we thought worth pursuing. The research around TDV video games validates this stance and by providing these as free resources for schools and classrooms we can help encourage TDV programs where there previously weren’t any, as well as strengthen those that already exist.”

Studies investigating the results of TDV video games on educational development have confirmed that compared to control groups TDV game players show a significant improvement in attitude relating to relationship abuse and gender norms, with one study concluding that TDV players were “less accepting of angry behaviours” in relationships compared to control players (Jacobs, 2017).

For Parents Too

The benefits of TDV video games aren’t just limited to the classroom either. Part of the concept that Jennifer Ann’s Group promotes is the ability to nurture and encourage conversations in the home as well.

Grace’s Diary challenges game players to “make the call” in this award winning game

“As a parent it can be very awkward trying to start conversations about abusive dating behaviour; even harder than some of the other more well-known ‘difficult talks’ like alcohol, drugs, and sex,” says Drew. “To have that kind of conversation, and at the young ages that we’re now finding it’s required, it can be tough for a parent to even know where to begin.

“With TDV games, parents can first play through a game themselves, get their own education around the subject, then introduce their child to the same game. The dynamic of the conversation subsequently changes. For the child, it doesn’t feel like it’s a talk focused on them and their behavior but instead a talk about the characters and actions in the game; that change in perspective removes a lot of the pressure. This makes it easier for parents and their kids to focus on the problematic issues we are addressing through these games and from there we can encourage a real, constructive dialogue.”

Even if parents aren’t yet ready to engage, if a child is going through their own personal experience of TDV or abuse the games are still beneficial. By demonstrating that what they’re facing is not an isolated issue affecting them and them alone, and that the behaviour is neither healthy nor acceptable, it can help them to understand that they are not powerless in the face of it.

And for Teens

For teenagers who have not experienced TDV or other abusive dating behaviours (equal opportunity problems which affect adolescents regardless of gender, socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, or sexuality) it also helps reduce the chance they ever will.

A poster in Grace’s Diary includes ten warning signs of an abusive relationship

Play nowDownload for
DevelopmentGP Touch@himatako (Twitter)
Produced byJennifer Ann’s Group@stopTDV (Mastodon)
Published byLife Love Publishing@LifeLovePublish (Mastodon)
RightRating™EveryoneNo ads. No in-app purchases. No loot boxes. No privacy tracking.

* If you or anyone you know is a victim of abusive dating behaviour, at any time, it is urged you seek help at the earliest opportunity. In the U.S., those needing assistance can contact the National Dating Violence Helpline at 1-866-331-9474. February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month and April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

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Gaming Against Violence is an award-winning program presented by Jennifer Ann's Group, a 501(c)3 charity [EIN: 20-4618499].

Consent Game ADRIFT Teaches Consent on itchio

ADRIFT is a sci-fi adventure about consent for kids of all ages.

Consent game ADRIFT makes learning consent easy.

ADRIFT is a sci-fi adventure about consent that engages and entertains kids of all ages. The ADRIFT lessons are presented in an easy-to-understand way. People from all age groups can learn about consent through ADRIFT. ADRIFT is rated for ages 4+ on the App Store. This short, but educational, game is great for a class project about consent.

This award winning consent game is even appropriate for elementary school children because ADRIFT never talks about sex! Let’s talk about some ways ADRIFT makes learning about consent easy in your browser or on iOS devices.

Logo for the consent game ADRIFT
ADRIFT is a prosocial consent game

Listening to Your Partner

An important lesson taught in ADRIFT is the value of listening and communicating with your partner. Many times in this consent game the in-game computer will let the player know what actions to take. And if you want to escape the abandoned space station you will need to have permission for your actions!

Part of the ADRIFT experience is to learn about trust.

As the player, it is up to you whether you listen to your computer “partner” or not. As in real-life, if you decide to listen to your partner then you might have a happier outcome. If you don’t listen to your partner then the ending is not going to be as happy.

Part of the ADRIFT experience is to trust the computer to correctly show you how to proceed without causing harm. For example, if you ignore the computer’s instructions and power the wrong part of the ship then the computer will open the door – but will also experience power surges. These power surges cause the computer “pain.” This harms the computer and also makes it harder for the player to proceed. The computer loses the ability to make the last part of your escape easier by lighting the player’s path through a dark room.

Consent also Applies to Friendships

In the real world you are unlikely to be trapped in a space station with a talking computer! Instead though, you might be in a project with a friend who has needs that are different from yours. By learning to understand each other’s needs and to respect each other’s boundaries children will be better prepared for the future. They will learn how to handle some of the trials and temptations that often appear in adolescence. They will build skills to help deal with problems like peer pressure, romantic relationships, and other common situations.

ADRIFT is not just for young kids, it is also a great way to easily and gradually introduce older students to the topic of consent.

It is important to listen to your partner — this applies to friendships also, not just romantic relationships. ADRIFT helps teach children to respect their peers. While children are learning to respect others they are also learning how to effectively communicate their own needs to others.

ADRIFT is not just for young kids, it is also a great way to easily and gradually introduce older students to the topic of consent. By focusing on consent without any discussions of sex, students will be building a foundation for future learning. They will gradually and organically work their way up to learning about more complex aspects of abusive relationships in the future.

Can you successfully navigate the puzzles in ADRIFT?

Applying the Consent Game ADRIFT to Real Life

This clever consent game is easily accessible to parents who want to start teaching their child about consent. ADRIFT is a free download in the iOS App Store making it very easy for anyone who wants to try ADRIFT out. The game doesn’t take much space either, making it perfect to fit on iOS devices with less storage space.

ADRIFT can also be played in your browser on itchio. This makes it easy for a parent to test play the game before having their child download ADRIFT at the App Store.

We do recommend that your child have basic reading skills to really enjoy the game as the current version of this story does not have voice-overs, it is text-based. According to the game’s publisher future versions of ADRIFT will offer voice-over acting.

New: Parent Guide for Teaching Consent with ADRIFT

ADRIFT also offers a guide for parents who want to teach their children about consent. The parent guide for ADRIFT provides easy to follow tips and suggestions. In addition to providing helpful ways to use this prosocial game with their child, it also tells parents how the lessons in ADRIFT align with the state standards’ learning goals. The ADRIFT parent guide is designed to download and print at home or work.

Parent Guide for the consent game ADRIFT

We think ADRIFT is the easiest way to teach consent to children we have ever seen! This award winning video game can be played online in your browser at ADRIFT can also be downloaded on the App Store at

Support this work by donating online: 

Apple Pay

Or by texting STOPTDV to 707070 

Gaming Against Violence is an award-winning program presented by Jennifer Ann's Group, a 501(c)3 charity [EIN: 20-4618499].


ADRIFT was developed by Quinn Crossley and Andrew Connell. It is an award-winning consent video game from the Gaming Against Violence program. ADRIFT was produced by Jennifer Ann’s Group and is published by Life Love Publishing. ADRIFT is rated for ages 4+ on the App Store.

More information about ADRIFT and its origins is available at