The different types of murder mystery party games
Murder mystery party games come in different shapes and sizes but can generally be boiled down into four distinct headings:
- Dinner Theatre
- Interviewing Suspects
- Turn-based Murder Mystery Party Games
- Interactive Murder Mystery Party Games
They all have their good and bad points, and I'll describe each in turn. However, please bear in mind that Great Murder Mystery Games is primarily focussed on interactive murder mystery parties that you can host yourself.
Dinner Theatre is a term often used for professionally organised events that consist of a group of actors staging a murder mystery for the audience to solve. They are often held at hotels or restaurants, may last for an entire weekend and may be completely interactive or not interactive at all. These events can be quite expensive as you are paying the actors - but they do often include a good meal.
I don't cover dinner theatre in any detail on my site as I am not aware of any dinner theatre kits for home use. (If I'm wrong - please contact me and let me know!)
Mysteries-on-the-Net champion these types of murder mystery party games, and they consist of several suspects with detailed character background and motives. Everyone else plays a detective, trying to solve the murder (usually in teams). These parties can cater for a large number of guests simply by adding more detectives.
Interaction in these games is limited to interviewing the suspects and they are firmly focussed on solving the murder. If serious sleuthing is your thing, these are the parties for you. (Click here to learn more about Mysteries-on-the-Net.)
Turn-based Murder Mystery Party Games
Turn-based murder mystery party games are probably the games that most people are familiar with as they have been made famous by Decipher's How to Host a Murder... range of boxed games available in stores. Each game is split into turns (usually four) and in each turn you find a little bit more about the murder and your background until at the end you have all the facts to solve the murder. During each turn everyone has a chance to question everyone else.
While the How to Host a Murder... games are usually fixed at 8 characters, there are other similar-format games available over the Internet which are available for many, many more guests. Probably the widest range are those by Merri Mysteries. Merri Mysteries games come in several formats, including a meet and mingle style (which is suited to large groups) and scripted versions with dialogue to read out. (Click here to learn more about Merri Mysteries.)
Other publishers of turn-based games include Invitation to Murder Games who publish games for between 6 and 12 players.
Interactive Murder Mystery Party Games
Great Murder Mystery Games is primarily dedicated to interactive murder mystery games for the simple reason that they are my favourite type of party.
In an interactive murder mystery party, all the guests mingle and talk to one another. Each guest is provided with a full character background and a few objectives for the party. While the detective has to solve the murder, other characters may need to make money or find a certain object. This results in plenty of schemeing and plotting as everyone tries to achieve their goals. (As for the murderer, they know that they are the villain and will try to escape justice!)
While the party is usually has key events through it, the way in which the murder is solved or other goals are achieved is entirely up to the guests taking party. It really is completely open and interactive - there's no script or pre-set path through the mystery.
You can't find interactive murder mystery games available in the stores - they're only available on the Internet. Publishers are:
As I'm sure you've realised, I'm a big fan of the interactive games - I've been writing and playing them for over 10 years now. Click here for an article on why I enjoy them so much.
This article may be re-published as long as the following paragraph is included at the end of article and as long as you link to the URL:
Article by Steve Hatherley. Find out more about hosting interactive murder mystery games for your friends and family at http://www.great-murder-mystery-games.com.