Selling a Murder Mystery Game

by Clare

I just read your article about selling a murder mystery game. I wrote a game for my friends for New Year's this year. It was a lot of fun and turned out pretty well. I've been thinking that I should try to sell it since I put so much effort into it. Your article suggested that I contact you for publisher suggestions.

Here's a brief summary of my story:

The mystery is set on New Year's Eve 1962 in Las Vegas. A prominent mob boss (our murder victim) has decided to build his own casino and hotel. He has set his opening gala for New Year's Eve. The mob boss's shift into legitimate business has run into a few snags - the casino's grand opening keeps being pushed back and there are rumours that he is running out of money. He finally has decided to open the casino even though the hotel isn't finished.

The characters include fellow mafia people, people involved with building the casino (architect, the Mayor, his assistant), showgirls, some celebrities, socialites and the Kennedys (I had a lot of fun writing the Kennedys).

The mystery is written for 18 people. About 4 people are serious suspects and another 5 or so have a weak motive for killing him. I gave each character a back story, secret information and personal goals. I also gave each character three abilities tailored to their character. For example, Elizabeth Taylor can seduce a male character into revealing his secret information. Some characters had items such as incriminating photos or documents.

The form of my game is slightly different than most murder mysteries. The murder victim is alive when the guests arrive. The host is the mob boss`s girlfriend. She welcomes everyone and tells them that the mob boss is in the study finishing up some business. Throughout the game, certain characters have instructions to go to either the study or to the hotel. The host announces the murder after the murderer has visited the study. Therefore, the murderer can be determined by the last person seen coming and going from the study.

I appreciate that a publisher might prefer the murder to take place before the party and it would probably be easier to sell if it was for a smaller number of people. I also appreciate that they may have problems with using real people as characters.

The story has adult content with gambling, affairs and drugs (a character just got out of rehab).

Do you think that this game would be of interest to a publisher?

My response

While your murder mystery sounds very interesting - and the setting is ideal. From what you've told me, I can't tell if it's close to the house style of any of the publishers that I am familiar with. Can you tell me if you've based the style on any particular publisher, or is it something you've made up?

(And yes, the real-life names would need to be changed.)

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