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After A Long Battle: Congressional Response to the AIDS Epidemic, 1982-1985

by Bella Pori with Developmental Editing by Raymond A. Kimball

What is the political response to a biological threat?

This game asks players to put themselves in the shoes of someone living at the height of the AIDS epidemic in America when next to nothing was known about the virus. Players consider what civil society can do when the government and those entrusted to protect us, fail to act. What are mechanisms that minorities have to move the public’s opinion in their favor and pressure decision makers to do something to help? At the same time, what power does the government have against a biological problem? How can a government legislate against a virus? How does the government decide on policy when time is of the essence and not all the information is known? What are the consequences of using policy to fight a disease? Is it even the government’s place to address this epidemic? Finally, what responsibilities do elected officials have to their constituents versus their ethical responsibilities to the world and country at large? By taking the roles of congressional representatives, government epidemiologists, doctors, researchers, gay activists, preachers, journalists, and average citizens, students can begin to find answers to these questions and more, and understand the radical changes society underwent when a new disease caught the country unprepared.

This is a Level 3 game that is still under development but has been approved by the Reacting Editorial Board (REB) for general use. A detailed explanation of the editorial process and game levels can be found on our REB Page.



Cultural and Social History; History of Medicine and Health; Political Science and Government; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

20th Century; Modern History

In a Few Words
Morals vs. science; gay; political; public health

Player Interactions 

Factional, Competitive, Coalition-Building

Sample Class Titles

Women & Gender Studies

Level 3 game (what's that mean?

Notable Roles

Ronald Reagan, Larry Kramer, Henry Waxman

Themes and Issues

Sexual Orientation,  Sexuality

Rolling Dice, Formal Podium Rule

Chaos and Demand on Instructor 
This game is demanding on the instructor and very chaotic.

Primary Source Highlights
The Bible; Democratic and Republican Party Platforms; New York Times articles

United States of America

Using the Game

Class Size and Scalability 
This game is recommended for classes with 10-30 students.

Class Time  
For this game, 6 to 11 sessions are recommended. The middle sessions where characters make the bulk of their speeches are flexible; they can be stretched out or condensed.


You can adjust the assignments to fit the desired learning outcomes of your class. This game can include traditional paper/research/thesis-driven writing and journalism. Not all roles are required to give formal speeches.


Reacting Consortium members can download all game materials below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.  

Please Fill out the Permissions Request Form Before Using After a Long Battle in Your Class!


All students need a Gamebook, which includes resources and historical content. Members can download the Gamebook, and provide it to students for free or at cost.

VERSION 3 Uploaded Mar 2022

Instructor's Manual

The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.

VERSION 2 Uploaded Mar 2022

Role Sheets and Add'l Materials

Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, role-specific resources or assignments, and their character's secret victory objectives.    


Bella Pori

Reacting and Related Titles

  • Decent Art: Congress, the Supreme Court and the National Endowment for the Arts


Members can contact game authors directly

We invite instructors join our Facebook Faculty Lounge, where you'll find a wonderful community eager to help and answer questions. We also encourage you to submit your question for the forthcoming FAQ, and to check out our upcoming events


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