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Eyeball to Eyeball, 1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis

by Raymond Kimball and Kimberly A. Redding

"Eyeball to Eyeball has been accepted for publication by the Center for Learning through Games and Simulations, with a target date of the end of 2023. In the interim, Reactors wanting to use the game should contact ray@42ed.games for the game's most current availability."

The world on the brink. Can you avert Armageddon?

Eyeball to Eyeball takes place simultaneously in the halls of power in Washington DC, Moscow, and Havana, with media and international figures jostling in New York. This game reinforces understanding of a diplomatic crisis at the peak of Cold War hostilities, and is a quick-paced case study of the complex nature of modern governance. Even amid the ideological clashes of the Cold War superpowers, smaller powers and non-state actors could and did influence the contest of wills in surprising ways. The game contains five factions: US, Soviet, Cuban, Media, and International (including UN and world figures). Students are assigned roles in each government or organization; they draw upon biographical information and primary source documents to buttress their arguments for or against particular courses of action. Although they are primarily seeking to convince their respective Head of State or equivalent, they must also identify allies and opponents within their own factions who can assist or undercut their aims.



Conflict & War Studies, International Relations, Political Science & Government, Western Civilization, History, World History

20th Century

International, Asia, the United States of America

Notable Roles

John F. Kennedy; Nikita Khrushchev; Fidel Castro

Themes and Issues
Cold War Superpower Competition, Colonialism, Political Ideologies, Realpolitik

Player Interactions 
Factional, Aggressive, Competitive

Sample Class Titles
First Year Seminar; Regional Studies in World History - Russia; U.S. Foreign Policy; World Since '45

 (what's that mean?

Divided Spaces, Online Messaging Platform - Experiential Sim

Chaos and Demand on Instructor 
Low to moderate chaos level; moderate demand on the instructor. The GM should move between factions to advise. 

Primary Source Highlights 
Declassified US and Soviet Documents; Speeches of Fidel Castro; UN Demarches

Using the Game

Eyeball to Eyeball can be played either face-to-face or fully remotely (online). Both versions use Experiential Simulation platform.
Read more about different modalities for this game...

E2E is designed to be played either face to face (F2F) or fully remote (online).
Both versions have a unique supplement not found in any other Reacting game: A custom-coded electronic website on Mustard Square’s Experiential Simulation platform that allows for limited chat capabilities between factions, consistent with the historical norm. Among other things, this platform quickly reinforces to students that there are no direct communications between the US and Cuba, and that communications between the US and USSR are done through Ambassadors (because the famous “hotline” doesn’t exist yet.) The platform also allows for the automation of faction leader decisions in the game and the subsequent injects, which reduces the cognitive load on the instructor running the game.

For instructors who wish to play the game fully remote, the Game also provides a custom-configured Discord server that provides faction channels for voice conversations and limited cross-faction meetings (primarily between government officials and ambassadors/media). The game also includes a rule-set for fully asynchronous play using the discussion forum function on your institution’s LMS. The files are provided in both PDF Portfolio and Pure PDF formats. The PDF Portfolio provides a natural separation of files, but may require Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat to work properly (it will not work in a browser reader). If the PDF portfolio will not function for you, we recommend using the “pure PDF” version.

Class Time  
2-4 sessions (1 setup, 1-2 gameplay, 1 debrief) are recommended. Instructors can add additional time for deliberation.

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.

You can adjust the assignments based on the desired learning outcomes of your class. This game includes Journalism, Creative Writing, Criticism, and Policy Brief Writing, as well as generally creative assignments (Herbert Block, editorial cartoonist).  Not all roles have to give formal speeches. 

Class Size and Scalability
This game is recommended for classes with 13-38 students.


"Eyeball to Eyeball has been accepted for publication by the Center for Learning through Games and Simulations, with a target date of the end of 2023. In the interim, Reactors wanting to use the game should contact ray@42ed.games for the game's most current availability."


Raymond Kimball

Dr. Ray Kimball is the Founder and CEO of 42 Educational Games Coaching and Design, a service that helps higher ed faculty integrate game-based learning into their classrooms. He is the co-author of Eyeball to Eyeball, 1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis, and a co-editor of Teaching and Learning the West Point Way. He served for 10 years as a faculty member at the U.S. Military Academy, reaching the academic rank of Associate Professor. He holds a Doctorate of Education in Learning Technologies from Pepperdine University and Masters Degrees from Stanford University.

Reacting and Related Titles

  • The Mongol Matrix Game: The Invasion of Kievan Rus

  • After Catherine: The Russian Imperial Court, 1797

  • Cuius Regio: The German Reformation

Kimberly A. Redding

Dr. Kimberly A. Redding is a professor of History at Carroll University. Her specialties include modern Germany, Central Europe, Women's History, and the Cold War.

Reacting and Related Titles

  • Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow: Remembering Youth in Postwar Berlin. Greenwood Press, 2004.


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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