Serious Video Games Helping to Tackle Serious Issues

Grace’s Diary is an example of how serious video games are 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

* 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.

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 jag.itch.io/adrift. ADRIFT can also be downloaded on the App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/adrift/id1426208859.

About ADRIFT

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 jag.itch.io/adrift.

ADRIFT on iOS Makes Learning About Trust and Consent Easy

ADRIFT: a game about consent, is a sci-fi adventure that is both engaging and entertaining for kids of all ages. The lessons in the game are presented in a way that people from almost any age group can learn the importance of consent. This short, but educational, game is great for a class project about consent beginning with elementary school children without having to directly speak to them about sex. Let’s talk about the ways ADRIFT makes learning about consent easy for all ages on IOS devices.

Listening To Your Partner

One of the most important lessons that are brought up in ADRIFT is the importance of listening and communicating with your partner about what you are both feeling. Many times in this game the in-game computer that the player is interacting with will let you know what actions you can take in order to escape the failing space station; it’s up to you whether you listen or not. If you decide to listen to your partner then you will end up with the good ending but if you don’t choose to listen to your partner the ending will be bad and will leave the main character filled with guilt.

If you decide to listen to your partner then you will end up with the good ending but if you don’t . . .

Part of this experience is trusting the computer “character” to correctly show you how to proceed in the game without doing anything that would harm them. 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 a great deal of “pain.” This also lessens the computer’s ability to make the last part of your escape easy by providing a lighted path through a dark room. This reminds the player that consent is not limited to romantic relationships but applies to friendships as well. ADRIFT helps teach children to respect their peers at a fundamental level and to use these skills to effectively communicate their own needs to others.

. . . consent is not limited to romantic relationships but applies to friendships as well . . .

The game is also easily accessible to parents of children who want to start teaching their child about consent. The game is a free download in the iOS App Store making it very easy for anyone who wants to try ADRIFT out. The game also doesn’t take up a ton of space making it perfect to fit on iOS devices with smaller storage space. We do recommend that your child have a decent amount of basic reading skills to really enjoy the game as the story is text-based instead of being voiced-over.

ADRIFT in Real Life

Students: although in the real world you’re likely not going to get trapped in a space station with a talking computer (at least not yet!) but you might be in a project with a friend who has certain needs that are different from yours. By learning to understand each other’s needs and to respect each other’s boundaries students will be better prepared to handle the trials and temptations they might confront in adolescence through peer pressure, romantic relationships, and other situations impacting consent.

Educators: ADRIFT is also a great way to easily introduce an older classroom to the topic of consent without beginning with some of the more serious aspects of consent. This affords educators the opportunity to gradually and organically work with their students on the fundamental issues about consent before moving onto some of its more serious applications like dating abuse. Educators will also appreciate that the game’s publisher, nonprofit charity Jennifer Ann’s Group, has made this game 100% free to provide a free resource to teachers in order to encourage classroom use of this consent game.

Parents: as public discourse about consent becomes more mainstream parents are becoming increasingly aware of the need to talk with their children about consent from an early age. ADRIFT offers a perfect way to begin that first conversation with their child because of the child-friendly treatment of consent in this clever innovative game. ADRIFT is rated as appropriate for players ages 4+.

Developed by: Quinn Crossley and Andrew Connell
Produced by: Jennifer Ann's Group
Price: Free
Language: English
Age Rating: Rated 4+

More information about ADRIFT
ADRIFT: a game about consent, on the iTunes Store
Play ADRIFT: a game about consent, in your browser
Watch a video trailer about ADRIFT: a game about consent

How to Blorrble Blobble

How to Blorrble-Blobble illustrates how games can be more than mere entertainment as this fun game about learning to dance teaches young people about consent at the same time.

Games are more than mere entertainment

A lot of games try to tell a story using few words. Others, they may tell their story using way too many.

How to Blorrble Blobble is a free game produced by the nonprofit group Jennifer Ann’s Group

With the former, it is not the easiest thing to properly communicate what you want people to take from it. You run the risk of your audience not seeing the point, or worse, getting the wrong point altogether. The former is certainly not good, but the latter can create the wrong (or even perhaps negative) interpretation of your work.

How to Blorbble Blobble handles this kind of game pretty well.

Video games can make you feel a certain way with wordless prowess, making you do things that may make you uncomfortable.

There are several ways to communicate through an interactive medium. The most common is through text and dialogue, unsurprisingly given that most stories are expressed that way. I personally feel that this is not the best way to do this in video games. It is not a bad way to do it, by any means. Most of my favorite video game stories are expressed through this way, after all. But some of my favorites in turn take great advantage of an interactive medium’s inherent advantages.

Video games can make you feel a certain way with wordless prowess, making you do things that may make you uncomfortable. For example, The Walking Dead games, while dealing with a character/dialogue-driven story, also evokes certain emotions by making players make hard decisions, such as whether to spare someone who had “done you wrong.”

So many options … which will Triangle Boy choose?

How to Blorrble Blobble

How to Blorrble Blobble focuses specifically on putting you into a real-world situation. ‘Blorbble-Blobble,’ or ‘Blorrbling‘ as the narrator/instructor calls it, has you following a strict ruleset when initiating the dance with another partner. You get to play as either Triangle Girl or Triangle Boy, and are walked through the game step by step, with the first step straight up having you seek out a partner with whom to dance.

Triangle Boy meets Disco Girl

Once you find a partner (Disco Girl or Disco Boy) you then are taught various procedures of Blorbbling. The first proper step is to greet them (after all, it is just polite). Once you greet your new Disco friend, you can ask them if they want to dance. Following this, they will either accept it or reject it. If they do reject it, you then have to respect that and back off.

It’s a delicate balancing act between respecting someone’s agency and respecting that someone under the influence can’t properly consent…

If they do decide to dance with you, you then have different protocols to follow. When you obtain consent, you can then give your partner a high five dance. After this, you then can move onto the fist bump – but not before asking if they want to continue dancing though. Consent may be revoked at any time, and this is both normal and okay.

This rule applies also to belly bumping, the final dance step. However, just because someone appears to consent does not necessarily mean that they are able to consent. At times, you may see that your prospective partner does not actually have the wherewithal to give consent. It’s a delicate balancing act between respecting someone’s agency and respecting that someone under the influence can’t properly consent to things.

Bumping bellies in How to Blorrble Blobble

My thoughts on How to Blorrble Blobble

If this seems like this game is trying to convey something other than dancing, you would be correct. It uses cute styles and cute concepts (high fiving is not exactly the most traditional dance move), but in reality, the basic rules of consent being discussed here correspond to sex and romance as much as it relates to dancing. This fact is conveyed to the player near the end of the game by Orca (although I did not feel that it needed much in the way of explanation).

Lessons like this from Orca are helpful – especially for those who’ve never been taught consent!

The player is also reminded about their own consent. When the player’s Triangle dance partner abruptly leaves Orca reminds the player that they can also disengage from Blorrbling whenever they so choose. If there is one thing that I particularly would like to see however would be to have your choice of character to not be based on a gender binary, and to instead name Triangle Girl/Boy and Disco Girl/Boy as “Triangle” and “Disco.”

The game has an interesting and funky art and musical style, evoking a 70s style. Whenever you initiate actions (such as asking for consent or dancing), you get a special little audio jingle to go along with it that makes the experience a little more active and transformative. The gameplay is simple rule-following, with not too much deviation.

I would have liked to been able to do different dance steps out of order, or even skip certain dance steps altogether, much in the same way that a sexual encounter does not require that you necessarily follow the same steps every time, or the same steps in order. The game conveyed this issue somewhat, as at one point you can choose to put belly bumping as the next step instead of fist bumping, but it resulted in the game soft-locking (thankfully it saves your progress up to that point). An expansion on the concepts to explore consent in a greater degree would be much appreciated, but How to Blorrble Blobble is already an interesting means by which to explore consent as-is.

Play How to Blorrble Blobble

Developed by: Jared Sain
Produced by: Jennifer Ann’s Group
Price: Free
Language: English
Age Rating: Appropriate for all ages

More information about How to Blorrble Blobble


For Sexual Assault Awareness Month a Video Game about Consent: ADRIFT

ADRIFT is a free game about consent appropriate for all ages.

Consent is something that comes in many different forms. It can be something as adult as sexual consent or simply respecting someone else’s personal space. No matter what though, when you ask to do something with someone, you should always have their consent. This can be a difficult concept to teach to children and you may not even know how to go about it successfully. This is where the game ADRIFT comes in to assist you when teaching younger children all about the do’s and don’ts of consent!

In ADRIFT the player plays as a space miner exploring an abandoned spaceship.

Playing ADRIFT

ADRIFT is a very simple game that can be easily understood by a child of reading age. The game has you play as an astronaut who is a member of a space salvage crew that encounters a derelict ship in deep space. You are tasked with retrieving the abandoned ship’s valuable artificial intelligence (AI). The game play takes place on the abandoned ship where you are completely alone aside from the AI who offers to guide you through the ship to safety. The only deal is you are going to have to listen to your newfound partner in order for the mission to go smoothly. The game has some puzzle aspects to it but they are completely simple as long as you are careful to read your partner’s instructions. If you try to rush through the game or wander off on your own then things might go badly.

The player must respect consent in order to successfully proceed.

The concept to make it to the end is easy. Just access the ship’s AI through the computer terminals found throughout the ship before every action. By doing this, you will learn the proper steps to take to get through the ship. If you don’t follow the directions properly your screen will blink red. The AI will also become less trusting of you the more you decide you want to do things on your own without checking with it for approval. It is very easy to look over some information, so be sure to have your little ones pay close attention to the AI as each line it says contains important information.

If you want to teach consent well, you can do two playthroughs. The first you can let your kids go through the game as they wish. This will show them that not respecting consent has consequences that might affect their relationships. The game helpfully provides a recap after the game ends that shows where consent was – and was not – followed during the game.

Afterwards, get them to play through again to positively show them the difference it makes when consent is respected. It makes the space miner’s job much easier and at the end they will also see that the AI has a much better attitude towards them.

The end-of-game summary will show you when you failed to properly respect consent

Real World Applications

The information presented in the game can be easily applied to many real world situations. For example, if a child has a friend and they ignore their friend’s wishes by playing tricks on them against their will that friend might eventually distance themselves from the child.

Respecting consent is just as important in growing trust between people as is being there for them. Without listening to someone’s personal wishes and respecting their feelings, we are setting ourselves up to lose a potential partner or friend.

ADRIFT makes a point to show two paths that the player can choose with the ship’s AI. By simply listening to the AI’s wishes and respecting those wishes they forge a lasting friendship while successfully navigating the ship’s interior to escape and win the game.

Play ADRIFT, a game about consent

Developed by: Quinn Crossley and Andrew Connell
Produced by: Jennifer Ann's Group
Price: Free
Language: English
Age Rating: Rated 4+

More information about ADRIFT
Get ADRIFT on the iTunes Store
Play ADRIFT in your browser
Watch a video trailer about ADRIFT

Finalist: Games for Change Awards, ‘Most Significant Impact’

A World Vision Staff member is demonstrating the consent video game Rispek Danis to three youth ni-Vanuatu girls.
World Vision Staff teach group of youth girls the consent game Rispek Danis

Games for Change has announced the finalists for the 2019 Games for Change Awards and a consent game is one of the finalists for Most Significant Impact. Rispek Danis (The Respect Dance) is a game intended to teach young people about the meaning and importance of consent.

Rispek Danis is a culturally appropriate game created for youth in Vanuatu, a country with one of the World’s highest rates of sexual victimization. The game is narrated in Bislama, a primary language of Vanuatu, and all dialogue, locations, and music are representative of ni-Vanuatu youth life.

The player’s character and their partner dancing to the Jam-Jam in Rispek Danis

Read our article about the consent game Rispek Danis.

Congratulations to all of the finalists!

Best Gameplay

The Stillness of the Wind (Coyan Cardenas, Memory of God)
Detroit: Become Human (Quantic Dream)
GRIS (Nomada Studio)
Florence (Mountains)

Most Innovative

Tendar (Tendar Claws)
One Hand Clapping (Bad Dream Games)
Nintendo Labo (Nintendo)
Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt (Ubisoft)

Most Significant Impact

Can’t Wait to Learn Uganda (War Child Holland)
UNICEF Kid Power (Teravision Technology, Teravision Games and 42 Mate)
Rispek Danis (Jennifer Ann’s Group)
My Memory of Us (Juggler Games)