Mystery Games are a great way of socialising and often businesses will use them as team exercises to bring out the best from some of their key workers. They are normally based on Murder mysteries where the alleged offence has taken place in a certain situation and guests or workmates have to delve through the clues to try to find out who committed the murder.
The game itself can be bought in a box set or various situations can be downloaded from the internet, the plots are outlined and the host will normally invite a few select friends around, usually this involves a dinner party as well, the friends will then act out the story lines and if the host is quite adept, an atmospheric scene can be played out. In some cases the guests will even dress to suit the character role that they are playing.
With the boxed sets you are given a few story lines to play out and character profiles are included so that each player can get into their role making their own character all the more realistic.
Each game will include up to 10 players, all of them looking for clues to solve the mystery and each game can last for several hours. The murder may not always take place before the guests start out on the game, often the murder may take place once the guests have had time to get to know the other players, there may even be a series of murders as the game develops. All of the story lines are different, they may even be set in different time settings and hundreds of different locations, it is only when the guest manage to decipher the clues and gather information that they can place themselves into a position where they can accuse the murderer, hopefully the right person!
The success of the game will depend a lot on the skill of the host or hosts, leaving clues about for the players to find, keying up the players on their characters, or just generally selecting a game play that suits the players themselves. Some of the credit will also have to go to the players, if it turns out that they are the murderer then they will need to be skilful at bluffing to the other players and throwing them off the scent, even if they are an innocent player, often giving out false clues can throw out the other players making it all the more difficult to solve the mystery.
Information can be provided as the game progresses, this is known as turn based play. All of the players start off with limited information and take turns in providing additional input to the plots, this can be given off the cuff or worked from a script that is provided by the host. The advantage of this method of play is that none of the players know the full story so it can turn up a few surprises as the game develops, this method is also often played around a table and no extra items are required.
An interactive role play involves all of the guest being given their character profiles at the start, they are allowed to mingle with the other guests and pass on secrets to each other without other guests listening, the murderer usually knows right at the start of the game that they are guilty and will try to hide this fact for as long as possible. Play can take place all around the venue with the guest going to different rooms to act out their parts and this method can even take up a full weekend if the organisers wish it to.
One method is to provide all of the guest with the full story of their involvement in the plot and the other players interrogate each other trying to find faults with the story lines and catch out the guilty parties. Often a player will slip up and try to cover their tracks by changing their story line but this will usually be spotted and they will have then given the game away. Under the interrogation each player has to stick firmly to their story to make the game last and not give nothing away.
Internet forums have become very popular recently, on these various members will be invited to join certain games and the murderer will try to blame all of the other participating members, throwing the scent away from themselves. The thread will be completed when the organiser decides its time to reveal the culprit and then another thread will be started with new players joining in.