Small Crisis


This game has two aims:

o To get students to consider issues surrounding dealing with intervention;

o To start to develop students’ negotiating skills.


With 45 minutes for this, let the game run for 30 minutes, then 15 minutes feedback. Assuming they’ll discuss it in the break, ask them what they’d do differently next time.

The game works best with 10-20 people: fewer and they lack enough conflicts, more and they can’t agree at all. If you have more than 20, then split them into groups, then get them to report back at the end, so they can compare and contrast.


Each student should be given a copy of the attached sheet. After a one minute or two to read through it, get them on their way. Hopefully, they will need no encouragement to talk, but if they do, then remind them that they need to make a decision by the end of the hour (also give them a time reminder at 15 minutes and again 5 minutes before the end).

This is a semi-closed exercise, so they need no more information than that provided to them – they are not allowed to push the decision out to another (real or fictitious) group – they must choose one of the options listed. As there is no structure imposed on them, they can decide however they want to.

Feedback Points

Some aspects to discuss:

  • What obligations and motivations do states have to intervene?
  • What role does the international system have to play?
  • What is a life worth? Compare the value of the lives of ‘our’ soliders, UV soldiers, civilians, etc. What determines the difference?
  • Who do you trust and why?
  • What’s the balance between rational action and emotional feelings?
  • Do you rush to a decision, just to make a decision?


  • This is an almost endlessly variable game. Times can be lengthened or shortened. The majority required can be lowered, or a requirement to justify a decision introduced. The figures can be varied.
  • Indeed the entire scenario can be changed: typically, you would be looking for a situation where there are no unambiguously ‘good’ options and/or assorted conflicting variables, as well as a logical need for a timely decision.
Small Crisis Game.pdf