playing the opposite sex in a murder mystery game

Have you ever hosted a murder mystery party where you haven't quite got the right mix of men and women? 

Me too.

Spellbound - a murder mystery game

The problem

Most murder mystery games are designed for a relatively even male/female ratio of guests.

Many games also have a number of gender-neutral roles – deliberately written so that they can be played by either sex.

(You can spot these because they are either called “Alex” or “Chris” or "Ghana" or similar, or they are known only by their initials “BJ”.)

However, it’s not always possible to get the right mix of male and female guests – and that means that sometimes someone has to play a member of the opposite sex.

This has no effect on the game – after all, everyone is pretending to be someone else.

It just means that they may have to act a little harder to convince the other players.

The solution - and some tips

Casting becomes a little trickier when you have men playing women and women playing men.

I’ve seen both done equally well, but there are some points worth remembering:

  • First, it’s worth checking to make sure that your guest is happy taking an opposite sex role. Some are, some aren’t. Some relish the opportunity to dress up, but some won’t.
  • Consider carefully which characters you would be happy casting the opposite sex with. In general, I try to keep anyone with a romantic attachment (ie, married or having an affair or similar) played by a member of the appropriate sex. But that’s because I find it off-putting when my wife (or mistress) is played by a hairy bloke – and I assume that others will think likewise!
  • While I'm not an expert on kids, it seems to me that (generally speaking) girls are happier to play male roles than boys are to play female roles.

your feedback

Incidentally, I received the following feedback recently on this tip from Barbara Terry:

The groups I have mystery parties with are all female and aged 40 - 65. If we limit ourselves to just plays with only female parts, we run out of options.

We have a great time playing either female or male roles and we have a lot more games and costumes to choose from. We can "ham it up more."

We've done both types of mystery games and have much more to choose from if we don't limit our creativity to just playing all female roles.

I can't argue with that!

Don't know where to start?

Here's my suggested quick route through the site:

Step 1 - Go to Choosing a Game to choose the game that suits your party best.

Step 2 - Review the Tips for Hosts for helpful advice.

Step 3 - If you want to keep up to date with the latest murder mystery game news, click on my What's New page.

Step 4 - Once you've had your party - tell me how it went! Click here to tell me your murder mystery party story.

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