Creating a memorable atmosphere
Murder mystery games are much improved if you make just a few efforts to generate the right atmosphere. An appropriate atmosphere helps everyone with their character, and can turn an entertaining evening into a truly memorable one.
Here, then, are a few tips on creating a good atmosphere.
Costumes: Perhaps the strongest way of creating a great atmosphere is to encourage your guests to wear an appropriate costume. (Costumes look great in photographs as well.) If your guests are finding it hard to find a costume (not everyone has the time or money to search out a good costume), a token effort – perhaps a hat, or coat – can also work wonders.
A Sense of Space: Where you hold the murder mystery game can affect the atmosphere. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find a location suitable for the game. However, murder mystery games are rarely so lucky and are usually held in homes. With a little bit of planning, however, you can create a sense of space.
In particular, you can create appropriate names for the rooms. If you're playing a game set on board ship, you could put a sign on the kitchen door saying "Galley," for example.
Anachronisms: For period games you might want to conceal or remove anachronistic items. Computers, lava lamps and other lightweight items can be moved to a spare room. As for furniture and heavy appliances such as televisions and stereo systems, try concealing them with a cloth or blanket.
Props: Some murder mystery games involve items such as items up for auction or books for sale. As far as the game is concerned, these are usually represented by slips of card or paper. However, if you have access to suitable props, why not use them? Two caveats. First, if it’s important to the mystery that nobody knows who has a certain item, it might be better keeping it as a slip of card rather than a bulky prop. Second, and I can’t stress this highly enough, never use props for weapons. Period. It’s just too dangerous – anyone passing may not realise that you’re just playing a game and if they see someone brandishing a weapon they will call the police. It’s really not worth the risk.
Sound: Period music or sound effects can be used to create an atmosphere. Large libraries often have a music section, with a wide selection of sound effects.
Food: If you are preparing food you might want to provide something appropriate to the setting.
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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.