Games Under Review
In order to be published, a Reacting Game is extensively vetted, peer-reviewed, and revised. There are five "levels" to the game creation process, with the fifth and final being a published version.
The Reacting Editorial Board is responsible for upholding the game design and review process, as well maintaining standards and quality for the Reacting Games series. Read more about the REB on our Staff and Administration page.
Dozens of games are currently in this creation process, and those that reach Level Three or above are playable and available for classroom use to members of the Reacting Consortium in good standing through the Reacting Consortium Library. Games at Level One or Level Two can only be accessed by contacting the game authors directly. You can find their names on the BLORG--we've chosen not to share their email address to prevent spamming.
Basic information on all games--and there are more than 200 in various stages of development!--currently registered with the Reacting Editorial Board can be reviewed on the Big List of Reacting Games (BLORG).
LEVEL FOUR GAMES: Peer-reviewed; for novice+ instructors.
Game authors: John G. Giebfried & Kyle C. Lincoln
1204: The Fourth Crusade and the Remaking of the Medieval World allows students to understand and experience one of the greatest medieval atrocities, the sack of the Constantinople by a crusader army, and the subsequent reshaping of the Byzantine Empire. The game includes debates on issues such as ‘just war’ and the nature of crusading, feudalism, trade rights, and the relationship between secular and religious authority. It likewise explores the theological issues at the heart of the East-West Schism and the development of constitutional states in the era of Magna Carta. The game also includes a model siege and sack of Constantinople where individual students’ actions shape the fate of the crusade for everyone.
Game author: Bret Mulligan
The Crisis of Catiline takes place in Rome, 63 BC: a year after nobleman Lucius Catiline lost an election for the Roman consulship to Marcus Tullius Cicero-- a “new man”. Rumors swirl that Catiline and his followers plot assassinations and arson in Rome. However, these rumors could be slander used to thwart social and economic reforms needed in the city. Players act as Roman senators--whether in support or opposition to Catiline, their goal is to save the Republic.
Game author: Robert Goodrich
Democracy in Crisis begins in late 1929, just after the US Stock Market Crash and as the German Reichstag (Parliament) deliberates on the Young Plan (a revision to the Treaty of Versailles). Players are mostly Reichstag delegates belonging to the various political parties. They must debate these matters and more while withstanding economic stress, political gridlock, and foreign pressure in Germany.
Game authors: Kelly McFall, Abigail Perkiss, Rebecca Livingstone
Monuments and Memory-Making explores the conflicting voices involved the creation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in which various interest groups vied for control. Players will take part in the conversations and controversies that emerged as the nation grappled with how to memorialize the Vietnam conflict, dealing with issues of memory, unity, representation, public opinion, and public consciousness.
Game authors: Brendan Palla, Megan Squire, Louise Williams
Rage Against the Machine is set in the period of wage crisis, class conflict, and rapid technological change in Manchester, England during the early Industrial Revolution. Players debate about industrialization, unemployment, labor exploitation and the impact of technology, drawing from key historical texts by Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Robert Owen.
Game author: Emily Fisher Gray
Wrestling with the Reformation takes place in the City Council of Augsburg, a free imperial city caught between demands for religious reform and a Holy Roman Emperor who is intent to squash dissent. As members of the Council, players balance the demands of the citizens and the Emperor, while considering the implications of Reformed positions for the city’s military defense, economic growth, and spiritual purity.
LEVEL THREE GAMES: In the peer-review process; for experienced+ instructors.
Game author: Mary Jane Treacy
Contested Memories is set in 1985 in an Argentinian high school. At this time, Argentina’s government has shifted radically: from military rule in 1976-1983 to a democracy under President Raúl Alfonsín. The Truth Commission has issued a devastating report of human rights abuses, and generals who led the military rule are going on trial. Players take the role of school Authorities and high-school age students. They must investigate and respond to the school’s past, and vote on a “Memory Project” that seems most beneficial to the school community.
Game author: Verdis L. Robinson
In essence, Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 was a conflict within the colonial Virginia gentry---the elite planters rewarded for loyalty to the established order, but in disagreement over Virginia’s governance. With a powerful elite class ever increasing their authority and landholdings, the lower classes of Anglo and Afro-Virginians became increasingly restless, difficult, and dangerous. This restlessness extended across race. Even though black and white laborers shared the same plight against the Virginia gentry, and their commiserations are evident, the backlash of Bacon's Rebellion changed that.The threat to the gentry’s power and authority in colonial Virginia warranted a redefinition of the planter class. In demonstrating that process, this game is designed to teach historical skills including critical thinking, persuasive writing, oral articulating and debate in an active-learning environment. It is also designed to take students on a historical journey in colonial Virginia and to introduce the Reacting to the Past pedagogy in preparation for longer, more complex games.
Game authors: Carl A. Anderson, T. Keith Dix
The Ides of March recreates the struggle for power and control of Rome in 44 B.C.E. following the assassination of Julius Caesar. The two principal factions are "Republicans" and "Caesarians". Informed by ancient sources such as Cicero's political writings, players participate in debates in the Senate about public order, Caesar's powers, foreign policy, and government.
Game author: Mark M. Meysenburg
Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, and the Dawn of Computing takes place in early nineteenth-century Britain, focusing on the calculating engines designed by Charles Babbage. The central intellectual collisions in the game concern the conflict between imagination and reason, the nature of science and scientists (are they talented, wealthy amateurs, or is science a profession?) and whether and to what degree science and engineering projects should be subsidized by the government. The main question in the game is whether or not Charles Babbage should be awarded funds from the British government for the development of his Difference Engine (an automated calculator capable of automatically creating, typesetting, and printing mathematical tables) and/or Analytical Engine (a true proto-computer), during the early to mid-1800s.
Game authors: Susan Henderson, David Henderson
Diet and Killer Diseases explores the Senate hearings of the McGovern Committee in 1979, which endorsed the idea that reducing dietary fat decreases the incidence of heart disease and obesity. This game expands the hearings to include a larger range of voices. Players examine the scientific evidence at the time linking dietary fat to health and in-game Senators determine the nature of the report.
Game authors: David Eick, Gretchen Galbraith
The Encyclopédie has been called “a founding document and event of modern Western culture,” its publication “one of the great victories for the human spirit and the printed word.” The first volume of this monument of Enlightenment is to be published shortly in 1751 and its editors, Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond D’Alembert, promise many more to follow as they seek out contributions from famous and up and coming intellectuals and leading scientists of the day. For promoting free inquiry into all areas of knowledge, its editors risk notoriety as well as the scrutiny of king and pope. Over the ensuing months and years, the publisher, potential investors and subscribers, Sorbonne theology professors, Jesuit scholars, salon hostesses, the pope, the king, his mistress—many stakeholders will no doubt vie to influence the outcome of the most ambitious undertaking in the history of publishing. In the Encyclopédie game, participants engage in the “cognitive struggle over the meaning of the world” in Old Regime France.
Game author: Bill Offutt
The Fate of John Brown is set at a fictitious conference, called to debate whether violent abolitionist leader John Brown should be executed. Most importantly, this game engages students with the nation’s gravest existential crisis, revolving around the place of slavery in America’s future. The issues faced then have their parallels now: when is the use of violence for political purposes justified (if ever)? When law collides with a moral code (a higher law), which should be obeyed? Can a political system riven by seemingly irreconcilable conflicts and divisions survive?
Game author: David Henderson
Food or Famine, 2002 is set in an African conference at which nations facing famine are confronted with the choice between accepting GM corn from the USA at the risk of being blocked from exporting agricultural products to the EU, or allowing people to starve. Players learn about GM foods, the controversies over their safety, for health and ecological reasons. The subtext for the controversy is a trade war between the USA and the EU over GM foods.
Game author: Marie Gasper-Hulvat
Guerrilla Girls is set in the 1980s, when the New York City art scene saw the emergence of a feminist art collective known as the Guerrilla Girls who exposed contemporary art world sexism and racism through posters and statistics Primary texts include selections from Linda Nochlin, Clement Greenberg, and Phyllis Schlafly. Players debate topics including institutional sexism, affirmative action, and questioning the idea of “artistic quality”.
Game author: Mary Jane Treacy
Harlem 1919 is set in African-American Harlem, in EDDIE’s, a fictional barber shop where men discuss the news: the return of Harlem’s National Guard from France, the rise of white mob violence, and the emergence of a new generation of activists challenging existing black leadership. Players act as barbers and patrons, and support W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and A. Philip Randolph, but both traditional and radically new views emerge.
Game authors: Adam L. Porter, David Tabb Stewart
The Josianic Reform is set just before a monotheistic reform of Israelite religion (622 BCE), takes up several tensions within the Bible: “the one versus the many gods,” the nature of sacred text and prophecy, and the conflict of ideas within the Bible itself. The disintegrating power of the Assyrian Empire supplies an international context for the nation to imagine recovering lost territory if it pleases God by reforming. You are a woman, the prophet Huldah, who vets the scroll: How will you defend it? You are of the royal house: Should you ally with Egypt? You are a Traditionalist: Won’t these changes “remove the ancient landmarks?” The Documentary hypothesis—the literary-historical notion that the Torah grew out of a set of traditions, documentary “sources,” and editorial activity—takes seriously the competing idea sets within the Bible. Why does the found-scroll differ in tone and ideas from the Priestly and Yahwistic traditions? The game’s factions “embody” these idea sets and play out their tensions.
Game author: David E. Henderson
Kansas is set in 1999 and 2000. Christian Conservatives on the Kansas Board of Education have deleted macroevolution and Big Bang cosmology from the state science curriculum- a new Board of Education must be elected, and revisit the decision. Players will campaign for office through press conferences, sponsored debates, and are encouraged to involve the campus community in the issues-- at the end of the game, the Board meets again to resolve the curriculum.
Game authors: John Duncan, Jennifer Jung-Kim
Korea at the Crossroads situates players in reform debates in East Asia following the irruption of Western imperialism in the late 1800’s. The game is set in the Deliberative Council, a body established by the Korean court in the midst of the Sino-Japanese War to discuss and implement measures to restructure government, economy, society, and education. Players will consult a wide range of writings from Korea, Japan, and China in constructing their arguments for and against reform.
Game author: Linda Mayhew
In Literary Journals, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy in St. Petersburg, 1877, editors, writers, censors, and business people will compete to produce a successful literary journal, which requires a nuanced understanding of political philosophies and writing styles as well as solid finances and social connections. Roles, including Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, give students the option of producing their own creative work, analyzing an existing work, or commenting on social issues in Elena Shtakenshneider’s literary salon. Then, writers must produce work that meets with a censor’s and editor’s approval and gets published. Editors and writers affiliated with the most successful journal will shape Russia’s literary and political future, receiving national recognition and meeting with Tsar Alexander II to make recommendations on future reforms. This interdisciplinary approach to studying literary journals allows students to explore a range of ideas leading up to the Russian Revolution: panslavism, populism, Russian Orthodoxy, women’s role in society, and the impact of these ideas on the literary community.
Game authors: Rebecca Livingstone, Kelly McFall
Peacemaking is set in Paris, 1919, and places players in the complicated and politically fraught peace conference that is to bring an end to the Great War. Players represent nations – both new and old, large and small powers, European and non-European – as they seek to come to bring about peace not only for the present, but also the future.
Game author: Mark Thompson
In Physician-Assisted Suicide: Autonomy, Ethics, Morality, and the End of Life, the California legislature, governor, and courts consider approval of the End of Life Option Act (EOLA) to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Players engage in the forty-year debate from 1976-2016 springing from the case of Karen Ann Quinlan, which raised questions about whether there is a right-to-die, the roles of family and physicians, and how the constitutional right to privacy is involved in end-of-life decisions—questions that affect our control over our own existence, our mortality, our morality, what constitutes appropriate medical care, and the relationship between religious persons and their creeds. Decisions about PAS are truly life-and-death decisions.
Game author: Tony Crider
The Pluto Debate situates players as one of nine astronomers arguing the definition of a planet at both a 1999 debate in New York City and a 2006 meeting of the International Astronomical Union. Players will examine Pluto’s history, plot the orbital and physical properties of planets, asteroids, and comets, and debate the value of scientific classifications.
Game author: Joseph Sramek
Set inside a late seventeenth-century London coffeehouse, Politics, Religion, and the Rise of the Public Sphere places students in the turbulent political and religious debates of late seventeenth century England, debates that were fundamental in shaping modern civil society. Other themes, such as the burgeoning Scientific Revolution, cultural transformations such as Restoration theater, gendered debates about the appropriate role of women in public debates, and the role of sociability in the development of major intellectual and moral theories are also foregrounded in the game. The game concludes by simulating the so-called “Glorious Revolution” of late 1688, resolving this significant event in English and Anglo-American history through a variety of player actions throughout the game.
Game author: Bridget Franco
Prado opens in 2010, as the Prado Museum has decided to curate a new gallery of Latin American paintings from the 20th and early 21st century following its expansion. Players are artists and art dealers from South America who arrive in Madrid for a series of negotiation sessions. Prado provides an introduction to influential art historical movements including Cubism, Constructivism, Surrealism, Expressionism, and Mexican Muralism.
Game author: John Moser
Progressivism at High Tide places students in the midst of one of the most fascinating political events of U.S. history--the presidential election of 1912, in which all of the candidates described themselves as "progressive." But what did it mean to be "progressive"? The progressives of the early twentieth century famously disagreed on all sorts of issues, but what held them together? What were the basic principles of progressivism, and how could one apply those principles into specific policy questions, such as what to do about large corporations, whether women should be allowed to vote, whether or not to restrict immigration, and whether African-Americans should have full political and social equality?
Game author: Nicolas W. Proctor
At the end of the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery, but this was not the end of conflict. When vindictive former Confederates returned to power, they violently asserted the authority of white supremacy and sought to construct a new system of forced, race-based labor. The US Congress responded with military occupation and the Fourteenth Amendment. This Reacting to the Past game encourages players to contemplate the issues of political participation, suffrage, and civil rights at a local level. Players must consider the ways in which their commitment to education, religion, politics, and the use of force may alter their lives and those of others. To answer these questions, players must contend against one another, but they must also figure out how to work together against the white supremacist threat.
Game author: Dr. James Schiffman
Radio Days takes place in 1938- the Federal Communications Commission is holding hearings on what to do about the perceived monopoly power that major radio networks – NBC and CBS – exercise over their affiliated stations. Players act as station representatives and executives and wrestle with questions about the role of the federal government economically and socially, and the effects of regulation of the free market.
Game author: Helen Gaudette
The Second Crusade takes place at the War Council of Acre in 1148, as the Pope has called for a second crusade. The council must debate the idea of “crusading,” the justifications for holy war, and the timing of the crusade. Players become the monarchs, barons, and religious authorities present at the council. They are informed by the New Testament and the Qur’an, as well as William of Tyre, Odo of Deuill, Otto of Freising and others.
Game author: John M. Parrish
In Watergate 1973-74, students experience the unfolding of America’s most dramatic constitutional crisis of the 20th century: the investigation of the Watergate burglary and its subsequent cover-up. Watergate gives students the chance to understand the importance of evidence and disciplined verification in resolving conflicts of belief and value, and to wrestle with the often frustrating complexity of using such processes to decide, under conditions of profound uncertainty, some of the most consequential questions of a nation’s political life.