Testing/feedback on educational game about health policy

I’ve written a short choice-based game in Twine for my students. It is meant to illustrate the choices involved in being in charge of health policy (especially in respect of the UK, but many of the events are wider than that). If you have a few spare moments I’d value constructive thoughts on how I can improve it. I’ve put it on itch.io at The health policy game (beta!) by t1ber1us.

It’s been fun writing the game, and difficult straddling the education/game boundary. I’ve written several conventional non-fiction books, and excited about the possibilities of teaching differently and trying to illustrate what I do using new tools.

thanks again,



Hi Ian, this is a cool idea! I played through it and have a couple suggestions.

Firstly, I’m not sure what format your students will be playing the game in, but the itch.io frame was really small and I ended up having to open the game in another tab, which might be beyond them technically.
It could be my screen, but I’d get some other opinions on the colors and ease of readability: the background is quite light blue, and the white text was a little tough for me. Likewise, I might make the link text darker blue.
Also, one small edit here: in “but the threat that of a campaign against the government is growing,” “that” should be removed.

I found this game engaging and well-written. Seems like a great resource for your students.

One of the settings on itch if your game is played in the browser is “Click to launch in full screen”. That will happen automatically when they click to play your game.

Screen Shot 2021-08-05 at 8.34.04 AM


This is cool! I’ll echo slugzuki’s comments above, and add a few of my own:

  • This might be unnecessary given that this is for your students and they’ll presumably know a lot of the subject matter but you might consider stating the dilemmas more directly, or adding additional mouse-over text to explain some things. I’m an American so the UK system is less familiar, but I did work in health policy for a number of years, but there were a few places I was confused – the hospital consultant section says requiring consultants to spend more time in public service would increase capacity for the same cost, for example, but then the options talk about trying to obtain extra funding to maintain the status quo, or requiring cuts to make the change, and I had a hard time mapping these budgetary impacts to the policy decision as presented.

  • I really like the way you flesh out the decisions, so it’s not implying that you have more power than you actually do – you can talk about whatever you want, but specific decisions require going through specific institutions, which I think can be important to overlook.

  • I was generally pretty successful by adopting a strategy to avoid making decisions, mostly taking cheap-talk options that maintained my popularity and didn’t really piss anybody off, without making much in the way of change to help folks one way or another. This seems accurate! However, in one election, I tried to keep my low profile by avoiding the spotlight and hoping other issues would come to the fore, and this led to being widely mocked, which apparently is a bad ending? I hit a “Error: macro <> does not exist” issue which meant I couldn’t try again.

  • Typos: “availalble” in the Hospital Consultants event, missing line break after “as well” in the hospital closure event.

Nice job!

Thank you all - it was kind of you to spot these issues for me. I (think!) I’ve fixed most of them, and will now give the colour scheme some thought. I’ll also give some thought to the US/UK differences - I was conscious of them when I was writing, but health systems vary so much it’s hard to deal with all the contextual differences (I’ve actually just written a book on this!). I’ll mull over how I can give people some more context though.

Thank you again. Any further comments very gratefully received!

Best wishes,