Interactive Digital Text Games for Political Science
Nicholas Vaccaro, Doane College -

These games are all draft versions. Please contact me if you're interested in using one, and please contact me before downloading or distributing the html files. Some elements of some games may not work on small-screened mobile devices.


An interactive digital text game used for a unit on South Africa in an introductory Comparative Governments class. Like most of the games on this page, it was created with the authoring program Twine.

The student takes on the role of Nelson Mandela, and is faced with key choices that Mandela encountered during the years 1985 to 1993. The game narrative is supplemented with factual information providing important historical background.

Before class, students play through the game on their own, recording their choices at each stage. Following the activity, the class watches a documentary covering the same time period and material as the game, and discusses the significance of Mandela's leadership in South Africa's transition to democracy.

Conflict in Cygnia

A simulation of constitution making in an imaginary ethnically divided society. The player attempts to create a set of constitutional rules that will satisfy three different ethnic groups struggling over the nature of postcolonial order. Issues at stake include executive power-sharing measures, federalism vs. centralism, control of natural resources, official language, and guaranteed property rights vs. wealth redistribution.
Made with Twine, the game is an example of interactive text software as a means to create games that are non-narrative in nature.


Created with Twine, this is a simple example of the well-known game of "Chicken" - often associated in international relations with issues of deterrence (and nuclear deterrence in particular). This game is for two players, who take turns using a single computer.


An interactive text version of the well known Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, a game theory concept that is central to theories of cooperation in international relations (and has been studied in other fields as well). The interactive text format is used to create a set of computer opponents, using simple strategies that have been explored as possible approaches to the IPD. The game was created using Divine Gamebook Creator, an interactive text authoring tool that offers similar capabilities to Twine with a somewhat different interface.

Poster from NASAGA 2015 conference

A poster on the use of interactive digital text games in political science education, from a presentation at the 2015 conference of the North American Simulation and Gaming Association

A brief introduction to Twine

A handout from a workshop at the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference 2016