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An Article about Murder Mystery Parties - Permission to Reprint.

An Evening of Murder, Mystery & Mayhem!

Suddenly the lights go out and you are startled by the sound of a gunshot. Light returns, and you see a dead man on the floor next to you! As you look around the room, you notice some very shady characters. One of them must be the murderer, but which one is it?

This may sound like a movie, but it isn't. You are, in fact, participating in an exciting murder mystery party game.

Murder Mystery Parties are becoming a very popular entertainment choice for Party Hosts looking for a unique experience to offer their guests. Party planners want their event to be talked about in excited conversations for weeks afterwards. Your run of the mill food, music and social gathering, just doesn't garner real excitement.

Murder mystery games have been very popular in the UK for about 20 years. Recently, there has been a huge growth of interest in the USA, as more people are becoming exposed to them. The first murder mystery games featured actors who portrayed characters using scripted roles. They would mingle with the guests while dropping clues. These are still performed today at large fund raising events and murder mystery dinner theaters.

The next generation of games let the guests themselves play the characters, but the parts were still scripted. Later boxed sets were introduced, which were scripted and played out in rounds, much like a board game. While these could be enjoyable, they lacked spontaneity, or the ability to be creative. Everything went exactly as scripted.

Today a new genre of Murder Mystery Games is emerging. These are called Interactive murder mystery games. In the older versions, solving the murder was the sole purpose of the game. Some of the new murder mystery games have many subplots. Guests will have their own nefarious agendas. Parts are no longer scripted. Instead characters receive detailed backgrounds, which describes their fictional relationships with other characters at the party. They also have secrets of their own, which may have nothing to do with the murder that occurs. Participants take on their characters persona.

After the murder, they learn certain details of the crime through evidence, eavesdropping, and questioning other characters. Some games include play money, which can be used for buying information, blackmailing, and other devious schemes. All of this leads to extensive social interaction, which is the real point of a party, isn't it?

How many boring parties have you been to where there were small groups of people gathered together in clusters? Or even more horrifying to the host/ess, are people standing around, not conversing at all. This just doesn't happen with a well-written interactive murder mystery party. With a good game, the guests can get so caught up in their own schemes, that they may even forget to investigate the murder!

Each murder mystery game usually takes place in exotic locations and timelines. These can include gangsters in Chicago during the roaring twenties, or maybe a sock hop in the fifties. You might even be placed in fictional settings. These settings allow participants to don great costumes and immerse themselves in the setting. This allows guests to more fully experience the ambience of the game.

When you decide to host a murder mystery party, there are some things you should look for in the game you choose:
  • First and foremost is to stay away from scripted games. These allow no imagination or spontaneity, and they play more like a board game. For true enjoyment, your guests need to feel immersed in the world your chosen game has created.

  • Look for a theme that you think your guests would enjoy. My best-seller is Murder at the Four Deuces, which takes place in 1920's Chicago. The reason this game is so successful is very simple, and something many people don't think about. Men are usually the first to balk at participating in this type of event. When told that they will be playing a gangster, they become excited about the idea. It is very easy for men to costume for this theme and they get to play powerful characters. It also allows them and the other guests to be bad, without actually being bad. It is exciting to be able to unleash our normally suppressed tendencies, without suffering any guilt. Something we don't want to do in real life, but relish doing in a make believe way. So, whatever game you do decide on, it is a good idea to choose one with good strong characters for the men.

  • Look for a game that is easy to host. Most of the good games are purchased from the internet. I operated a murder mystery theater before I developed the Dinner and a Murder game system. I know how important it is to be able to have easy to follow instructions. The night of the party, the last thing a host/ess needs is to have to scramble around trying to run the game, while making sure all the guests are happy, food is served and cleaning up. You get my point. A good game will have very few hosting duties associated with the game, allowing the host/ess to participate as a character also. If the host guide reads like a technical manual move on.

  • Do not purchase a game that does not have an introductory file that you can read before purchasing. All games are not created equal. There are good ones and bad ones out there. You do not want to take a chance on harming your reputation by hosting a bad murder mystery party. If a site cannot give you a partial glimpse of the actual game, then they are very likely hiding something. This introduction should contain the host guide and other details about the game that will give you a good feel for how it will work.

  • While you are at the web site, also look for customer comments. Of course, we all know that they are not going to post negative comments on the site and could in fact make up comments. If you only see one or two line comments, be leery. Customer feedback can also give you great ideas for throwing your own party. I am constantly amazed by my customers creativity.

  • Murder Mystery Game Kit Contents: A good kit will have everything you need to play the game. You should not have to go out and purchase elaborate props. It should have invitations, host guide, characters & evidence at the least. Game money is a plus that adds a whole new dimension to the game experience.

  • Either the kit, or the web site, should also give you party theme ideas. Everything from menu, recipes, decorations, hairstyles, music and costumes can give a host very good ideas for their party.

  • If your kit does not contain certificates, you can design some yourself. It is always nice to be rewarded in the game for solving the murder, best costume, best performer etc...
    Next I will give you some tips on planning and hosting a murder mystery party:

  • Try to plan your event at least 2 weeks in advance. A month advance planning is most optimal. You can throw a last minute party, but things will be much less stressful with careful planning.

  • Before assigning characters, it is very important to send an invitation and receive an RSVP. Let your guests know that when they confirm, you are counting on them to attend.

  • When it comes to food, easier is better. I have thrown murder mystery parties where I did all of the cooking and it made for a very stressful day and party. Unless you can have your party catered, the easiest menu is done potluck. The first time I decided to do this, I worried about what my guests would think, but to my surprise they loved the idea. It gives them a chance to contribute to the party and show off their culinary skills. Just about everyone has a special dish that they excel at. If not, there are always needed items that don't require cooking skills. Drinks, ice, cups etc... If you do decide to cook, think simple and have everything ready before the party starts.

  • After the solution has been read, it is always fun to go around the room and let each character reveal their secrets. Your guests will be amazed at what they didn't know was going on under their noses.

  • This tip isn't a requirement, but I have found it adds a fun element to a murder mystery party. If your party utilizes game money, I ask guests to also bring a small inexpensive item. I also cruise the dollar store and spend about $30 on unique items. For my last party I bought butterfly houses, wind chimes, scented candles, unique picture frames and other items. After the party ended we held an auction with all the items. Guests used their play money winnings to bid and purchase items. Everyone left with a small remembrance, in addition to a smile on his or her face.
Using this advice, your next party is sure to be one people will talk about for weeks. So be brave. Plan a party your guests will be DYING to attend!

Written by Mary Lee, owner and writer of Dinner and a Murder Mystery Games. Visit our web site at https://www.dinnerandamurder.com to learn more.

This article may be reprinted on the condition that this Author box, with link, remains intact with no changes.
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