Murder mystery party games come in a number of different styles.
There are those where information is released in stages and you find out more about the mystery as the party progresses.
Then there are those where a set number of actors play the suspects and everyone else has to guess who the murderer is.
The games I really enjoy are interactive murder mystery games where each guest has their own unique role with detailed background and objectives.
While solving the murder is obviously a large part of an interactive murder mystery game, there's always much more to the game than just that.
Each character has a detailed background and has their own goals and problems to deal with - and those might include not getting arrested for a murder you didn't commit, or needing to pay off your gambling debts, or wanting to be the richest person at the end of the game.
The only way you will achieve your goals in an interactive murder mystery game is to go up to the other guests and talk to them.
You need to talk to everyone to make sure that you've not missed anyone in your search to find the murderer or achieve your goals.
So by the end of the game, you should have met everyone else - even if you didn't meet them as "yourself" but only as the character you were playing.
Best of all, if you find it hard to talk to people you don't know, an interactive murder mystery provides you with a ready-made topic of conversation (which was always my problem when I was younger and shyer) both during the game and afterwards.
Anyone can play an interactive murder mystery game because, taken at its simplest level, it's just a magnificent game of "let's pretend."
Kid's play "let's pretend" all the time, and I've yet to find a grown-up who has forgotten how to play.
If you want a more adult, or cerebral approach to interactive murder mysteries, each guest takes on the role of a character in much the same way that an actor takes on a role in a play.
But there the similarity ends, because in an interactive murder mystery game there's no predetermined script and no audience.
Talking about scripts brings me to my next reason.
There's no predetermined script that everyone reads out - unlike some other murder mystery games.
Instead, each guest decides how to solve the murder and achieve their goals - in whatever order they desire.
The games do have a structure and some timetabled events (such as clues or announcements), but generally how the game plays is in the hands of the guests.
nteractive murder mystery games are able to cater for a wide range of guests.
If you are familiar with the boxed sets in the shops (which are usually for eight people - four men and four women), interactive murder mystery games have a minimum and a maximum number of guests.
For example, one game might need at least 12 people, but can cope with up to 26.
This makes it very easy to add last-minute guests or cater for someone who drops out at the last minute.
Interactive murder mystery games are also flexible when it comes to gender.
Usually several characters are written so that they can be played by either men or women - they usually have names like "Chris", "Alex", "CJ" or "Ghana".
In some murder mystery parties you only find out that you're the murderer at the end of the party.
Until then you have no idea.
You are also only drip-fed your background, which I find very frustrating. In an interactive murder mystery game you're told everything up front.
If you're the murderer, you know it from the start.
If you did something dubious in your past, you know it from the start.
(Sometimes information is held back. For example, if a clue is announced part way through a game, you might then be given a bit more information to explain why that clue is significant to you.)
I don't know of any other type of game where you are allowed to blackmail your friends.
It's so much fun - I'm always amazed at how my generous, honest friends and can become so sneaky, underhand, conniving and just plain crafty when they play an interactive murder mystery.
And they have such a good time doing it!
While being sneaky can get you so far, at some point I find that I have to trust and cooperate with other characters in an interactive murder mystery game.
And often, I find that cooperation - sharing objectives and helping someone to achieve their goals can be much more rewarding than being sneaky and devious all the time.
If there is a downside to these games, it's that there always has to be a host, and generally they don't play the game in the same way as their guests.
They've usually read the entire game and know who the murderer is and what's going to happen.
I find that hosting is a completely different experience from playing, and it's certainly just as enjoyable.
Rather than solving the murder and achieving objectives, instead you're providing your friends with a fantastic evening they'll never forget.
You'll certainly be the host with the most!
Your friends will talk about your murder mystery party for weeks afterwards.
In fact, I can remember every single murder mystery party game I've every played (or hosted) - and some of my friends still talk about them even now.
There aren't many things that you can say that of.
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 scheming 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. Examples include:
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.
Reunion with Death - a lockdown murder mystery for 6-9 players played using online video chat. Click here for more details.
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.
Sep 29, 20 12:56 PM
My experience of simultaneously hosting and playing Death in Venice
Sep 09, 20 02:06 PM
Can I still host A Speakeasy Murder with 12 guests? And just delete three non-essential characters? My response: A Speakeasy Murder is designed for 15-32
Aug 10, 20 04:03 PM
Is Death in Venice appropriate for kids? We have 10 eleven year old girls. My response: Hi, probably not as Death in Venice contains possible dating