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ROMAN PRISONER'S DILEMMA

Formerly Known As: Egyptian Prison and Council of Antioch Microgame

by David E. Henderson

This game is transitioning to the new Reacting Microgame Framework. Stay tuned for more updates as the game progresses through the review process!


The fundamental conflict in this game is the limits of forgiveness within early Christianity. Jesus says to forgive enemies: what about clergy who made sacrifices to the Roman gods or surrendered the holy scriptures to save their lives under Roman persecution? Should Christians embrace martyrdom? Or does Christian forgiveness allow these transgressors to later repent and return to the faith? This game sets the stage for two major issues at the Council of Nicaea: the Meletian Schism and the Arian heresy. There is an option for part of this game that gives the GM the option of dealing with either the Council of Antioch or the apostate issue. While the game was designed as an introduction for Council of Nicea, it also works as an introduction to Reacting to the Past (RTTP) pedagogy in courses covering this time period.

This microgame may serve as a companion to the Constantine and the Council of Nicaea game. It is designed to set up the situation leading to two major issues at the Council of Nicaea, the Arian heresy and the Meletian Schism.

ABOUT THE GAME

Details

Disciplines
Religion, Ancient History

Era 
4th Century CE

Level
Microgame (what's that mean?

Geography 
Africa, Southwest Asia


Using the Game

Class Time  
1 period (55-75 minutes), inclusive of setup, play, and debrief


Possible Reacting Game Pairings
This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive. Egyptian Prison may pair well with:


Assignments
There are no in-game assignments for this game.


Class Size and Scalability
 
12-28 Players

Read more about scaling this game for different class sizes...

Complete guidance on role assignments can be found in the instructor's guide, and questions can be directed to the game author. The main way this game can be scaled up or down is by eliminating or expanding the journalist roles. Since journalists do not ordinarily give speeches during regular class meetings, this does not affect the time needed to play the game.

CLASSES BELOW 14 In small classes, the instructor may assume the function of the journalists or eliminate the role of journalists altogether.

CLASSES WITH 14-36 STUDENTS Classes with 14-36 students can use the basic roles, available for download below or from W. W. Norton.

CLASSES WITH 37-61 STUDENTS Additional roles are available for download to Reacting Consortium members. Of these additional roles, eleven are delegates, four are protesters, and ten are journalists. Some of the assignments for these roles are specialized. For example, Theodore Meir Phil Ochs should sing instead of giving speeches. Warren Hinckle and Abe Peck should help journalists to assemble and disseminate their stories.

CLASSES WITH 62-67 STUDENTS AND/OR MEDIA EMPHASIS The expanded roles also include roles for William F. Buckley, Jr. and Gore Vidal as well as the cast and crew for an experimental film, “Medium Cool.” These six roles are supplemental to the functioning of the main game. Since these players record their work, it could be shown during the debriefing or players could watch it asynchronously to conserve class time for game play.

CLASSES WITH OVER 67 STUDENTS Press Secretary and Press Stringer roles can be paired with delegate and journalist roles. In order for them to have the opportunity to interact, the instructor may need to help them to schedule press conferences outside of regular game sessions. By pairing each of the 25 delegate roles and 20 journalists, 45 more roles can be added to the game, for a total of 112 roles. To create even more roles, assign individual roles to pairs of students, beginning with the protester roles (which brings the total to 128). Increasing the number of crew members for “Medium Cool” could bring you easily to 130.

The game can be run with even larger numbers than this by expanding the size of the teams playing different roles.


GAME MATERIALS

Reacting Consortium members can access all downloadable materials (including expanded and updated materials) below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David E. Henderson

David E. Henderson is Professor Emeritus at Trinity College (Connecticut). He is the author of nine Reacting game modules on science, public policy, and religion.

QUESTIONS

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


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE...

Council of Nicaea
Constantine and the Council of Nicaea: Defining Orthodoxy and Heresy in Christianity, 325 CE

The Fourth Crusade
Remaking of the Medieval World, 1204: The Fourth Crusade

Augsburg
Wrestling with the Reformation: Augsburg, 1530

reacting@barnard.edu

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