Don’t Say Gay: Choose Your Own Misadventure

Link to Game

In Don’t Say Gay: Choose Your Own Misadventure, you are a queer educator in Florida on the day the Don’t Say Gay bill was signed into law. You have no idea how you will face your students today. Will you address the news to your class? Will that get you in trouble? How seriously will these new regulations be enforced? As a queer educator, is your job on the line if you speak about your identity? Your head spinning with questions. Could there be ways to affirm your students despite this draconian legislation? 

This is a fictional narrative grounded in real events. The news stories integrated into the game include excerpts from actual publications directly following the passage of this law. Since the passage of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, at least 20 other states have proposed similar legislation. This game seeks to give players insight into the ways that this legislation impacts the lived experiences of teachers and students, and inspire them to take action to resist these bills and support queer youth. 

This interactive fiction evolved through the three-week process through feedback from play testers. Below, I highlight my key takeaways from each play test. 

First Play Test

  • Feedback summary: there should be more consequences for potential actions. The player felt that his job should be in more peril if he took actions that were too open about the protagonist’s identity. 
  • Revisions: I created a scene where the protagonist is chastised in the principal’s office after getting caught talking about the legislation with students. I also created more details about the emotional strain of certain actions for the protagonist. 

Second Play Test 

  • Feedback summary: this player was not familiar with the Don’t Say Gay bills, so they were confused by the concept at first. The player also wanted to see the impact of their actions more directly. Additionally, I discovered that many of the passages of text were too long and the player would skim these larger sections. 
  • Revisions: I added an introductory slide giving a bit of background about the bill and broke up many of the larger chunks of text. I also created more moments where the protagonist wishes they made another choice or thinks back to a choice from earlier to make the player’s decisions feel more meaningful. I broke up the 

Third Play Test 

  • Feedback summary: this player wanted to see more about how LGBTQ students might react to the Don’t Say Gay bill. The player also pushed me to create a more complex portrayal of the principal, depicting her not as a malicious actor as much as an obsessive rule-follower. 
  • Revisions: this conversation helped inform my approach to the lunchroom scene, where regardless of the path a player chooses they get to hear more about the perspective of a student on this legislation. I also created a clearer motivation for the principal to be in line with the rules. 

Fourth Play Test 

  • Feedback summary: in the fourth playtest, watching the players pathway gave me an idea for a few alternative ways to link the story, as she did not experience a few of the pathways that I wanted her to. The player also shared that she liked the few moments where the game narrates the protagonist thinking about their past choices, and suggested this could be expanded. 
  • Revisions: I added additional connections between options in the morning scene to give players an ability to explore more of the game. I also added even more information about the impact of player’s past choices. 

Reflecting on the assignment as a whole, I would share the following final insights. 

What I did: I built a narrative game that demonstrates the ways that educational policy impacts the lived experiences of teachers and students. I am proud that my playtesters described feeling very drawn into the narrative and emotionally compelled by the dilemmas the game presents. I had a blast exploring my first interactive fiction! 

What I learned: I learned different strategies to make choices feel more compelling in a game (though I still want to explore this goal further!) I learned the value of sharing my work with different types of playtesters and tried out strategies from our recent readings to make the most of playtesting. I also learned that text is an exciting and challenging medium! It’s hard to get people to read text deeply when they are looking at a screen. I’m still thinking about how to make the game even more immersive. 

Next time, I’d do it this way: next time, I’m excited to partner with an illustrator friend of mine to create illustrations for some of the key moments in the story to bring them to life. I also want to expand the story to talk more explicitly about the challenges that trans kids are facing in schools. Beyond this, I’d like to think if there are a few instances to create even more dramatic dilemmas. I’m also curious about building some interactive elements for the news articles that demonstrate some statistics around LGBTQ youth. 

About the author


  1. Some of the values I see in this game include self-expression and courage. Throughout the IF, many of the choices encourage the reader to select an option where they can express their true identity, follow the initiatives one is passionate about, and stand up for the issues people believe in. Additionally, almost all of the scenarios are related to speaking up against the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” act, even though teachers are normally supposed to be apolitical. In fact, the ending of the IF all ties back to the reader being able to “take one small step to fight for the mission.” The aspect is really encouraging and touching, as I know that this can be a difficult and sensitive topic to deal with. I thought this game did a great job of accomplishing its goal of showing readers how this act can drastically change the classroom environment, especially for the LGBTQ+ community, and show how to stand up for them by resisting these kinds of legislation. I enjoyed the details in every outcome and the flashing text that represents the alarm—I felt like it was a great use of the medium. I felt the pain that the teacher was going through in the story and it made me want to learn more about how I can support queer youth that is affected by the act. The choices on whether to interact with the students are not were interesting because I felt like they determined how dejected the teacher felt. I appreciated the provided resource at the end of the IF because it gave me additional information on the actual act. If I were to improve this IF, I would recommend having shorter pages for each outcome/choice—some of them were a little text-heavy. I would also suggest having some differentiating font type for different situations, like when the user is reading on the phone and talking to other characters.

  2. Don’t say gay bill

    1. This was a great resource to teach the value of courage, the agency of each individual fighting the battle against those that want to oppress minority communities. The goal of this IF was very clear from the very start, which is something that I really appreciated.
    2. The writing style is very immersive without being lengthy. I think there was the right amount of balance between readability vs. immersiveness. I didn’t explore the other options as someone really invested in this issue, but I did get to really care about the characters, not just the protagonist, which I think was the reason that I was really careful about my choices.
    3. In terms of theme coherence and relevance to the current topic, it was great. And I think this was the interactive story that could really be used to teach people about what they can do in real life!
    4. I actually thought the story could be a bit longer, but I think that was only because I really like the story and was curious about what was happening next. I think in terms of the resolution, it could be more detailed if this were to become P4.

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