You're gathered in a room with about a dozen or so people. Your host enters, welcomes you and tells you that by the end of this evening, one of you will be guilty of a murder. Welcome to the world of the murder mystery game. If you've never had the pleasure of participating in one of these things then you really do not know what you're missing. Hosting murder mysteries has been a big thing all over the world for over 30 years now. Hopefully, after reading this, you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect should you ever get invited to one.
Ah, yes. The invitation. That's where murder mystery games start, with the invite. Normally you'll receive a very fancy looking envelope in the mail. When you open it, you'll read something like, "You are cordially invited to attend a murder mystery at .." and then you'll be given the address, date and time and the name of the person hosting it. Normally about a dozen or so invitations will go out, depending on how elaborate the mystery is. Sometimes these will be hosted at somebody's home but many times they are hosted at hotels or even on boats. Yes, a lot of work goes into these games.
But where exactly do the games come from? Well, many of them are actually pre packaged and bought from novelty game stores. These games are usually very expensive, though cheaper ones can be found. But you do get what you pay for. The more expensive games are very elaborate and very entertaining. However, some people, if they are really creative, will actually create a murder mystery themselves. This is where the fun really comes in because if you've played enough of these games, ever you'll be invited to one that you've already done and will know the output in advance. With a homemade game, it really does become a mystery.
The games are actually very simple. When you arrive, you're given a character to play. Sometimes your character is actually specified in the invitation. You're not expected to know any dialogue. The only thing you need to do is observe. There will be people at the party who are actually hired actors. These actors will play out the parts of those who will be giving you clues through the evening as to who the murderer is, once the actual murder is committed. This could be right away or not for several hours. The length of these games is not predetermined as the object is for one of the "real" guests to figure out who the "murderer" is among the "hired" guests. This is where you better put your Sherlock Holmes cap on and do some serious thinking. Some of these games can be quite difficult.
While not as popular as they were when they first came out about 30 or so years ago, murder mystery nights are still around. You can usually find one advertised in your local paper. Most of them today are held in hotels or boats. Not as many "regular" people put these on as in the early days as the thrill has died down a bit. But if you look hard enough, you can still get into the action. It will definitely be a night you will not soon forget.