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The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations, and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994

by Kelly McFall

What responsibility do we have for our fellow human beings? What obligations result from our membership in a common biological or moral community? What right do we have to intervene in people’s lives to prevent them from hurting others? What can and should, or must, we do about injustice and oppression? Are we, in fact, our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper? This game prompts students to wrestle with these fundamental questions, asking them to respond to rapidly spreading genocidal massacres in Rwanda in April and May of 1994. Some players will, as part of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), have the authority and responsibility to debate proposals and make policy. Others, as leaders of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), journalists, or representatives of public opinion, will attempt to learn more about what’s going on in Rwanda and influence public policy based on this knowledge. All of this takes place in an environment complicated by inadequate information, the need to make rapid decisions, and outside demands on the time and intellectual energy of policy makers. During the game students will experience the intersection of policy making, the media, and public opinion in an environment of limited information. In addition, students will practice leadership and negotiation as well as critical reading, writing, and speaking.



African History, World History, International Relations, Genocidal Studies, Philosophy

20th Century; Contemporary History

Africa, International

Published Level 5 game (what's that mean?

Themes and Issues  
Humanitarian Intervention, Race, Colonialism, Genocide, Global Decision-making, 

Player Interactions 
Collaborative, Competitive, Coalition-Building, 

Sample Class Titles
World Civ; Comparitive Genocide;
Philosophy of Humanitarian Intervention; International Organizations

Chaos and Demand on Instructor 

Low chaos 
Low to medium demand on instructor

Primary Source Highlights

The UN Charter; Michael Walter Just and Unjust Wars; Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide

Notable Roles
Boutros Boutros Ghali, Alison des Forges, UN Ambassadors

Using the Game

Class Time  
For this game 7-10 sessions (2 to 4 setup, 4 to 5 game sessions, 1 debrief) are recommended. 

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. The Needs of Others may pair well with:

You can adjust the assignments based on the desired learning outcomes of your class. This game can include: traditional thesis-based writing, journalism, and persuasive writing assignments.

Class Size and Scalability
This game is recommended for classes with 14-32 students.


Reacting Consortium members can access all downloadable materials (including expanded and updated materials) below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.  Basic game materials (Gamebook, Role Sheets, Instructor's Guide, and Handouts) are available to any instructor through the publisher. 


Students need a Gamebook, which includes directions, resources, and historical content. The Needs of Others Gamebook is published by W. W. Norton. 

 ISBN: 978-0-393-67377-7
 Available wherever books are sold.

Role Sheets 

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

.pdf file.

Instructor's Guide
and Handouts

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

.pdf file.

.pdf file.


Kelly McFall

Kelly McFall is professor of history and chair of the humanities division at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas. Since 2013, he has run a popular podcast focusing on new books in genocide studies. In 2014, he won the inaugural Faculty of Distinction award from the Kansas Independent Colleges Association, recognizing his teaching excellence.


"I am very enthusiastic about this game. I use it as the capstone assignment for an introductory course in International Relations built around the concepts of interests, institutions, and ideas. The game shrewdly activates these concepts and many more. It allows my students to visualize the role of non-governmental organizations and public opinion. Set in 1994, it even gives students a chance to think about what global diplomacy was like before the Internet as we know it was generally available. Perhaps most important, it humanizes the people who have to make critical decisions. It’s a rich, rich game."


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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