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Murder mystery games are generally party games wherein one of the partygoers is secretly, and unknowingly, playing a murderer, and the other attendees must determine who among them is the criminal. This may involve the actual 'murders' of guests throughout the game, or may open with a 'death' and have the rest of the time devoted to investigation.
Murder Mystery Games are party style games, designed to be played in the host's home, using boxed games or internet downloads. These games can also be played on a larger scale in a hired venue, a restaurant or at a workplace. They are often used for fundraisers.
The games are often designed for use by between 6 and 10 players, but there are large group murder mystery games as well. During the games, the party guests/hosts will take the roles of the various suspects and will try to solve the mystery by examining all of the evidence in an attempt to identify the murderer.
The games for 6 to 10 players are played over 2–3 hours and the players use their character booklets and clues (i.e. the game contents) to delve into the background of the murder using the questions, answers, hints and clues provided. These are all designed to elicit more and more information about the murder, until the players are in a good position to suggest who they believe is the guilty party. More often than not, players will be invited (by the host) to attend the party dressed as, and ready to play the part of, one of the suspects listed in the game scenario. The game is usually played over a 3 course dinner party, although 'cocktail party' formats also work.
The large group murder mystery games are formatted a bit differently. You'll need 6-8 people to play the primary suspects. The rest of your guests will take on the role of detective and it will be their "job" to actively solve the case by examining evidence, finding clues, following and questioning suspects - whatever it takes for them to solve the mystery.
Box games are designed to be played by groups of friends or family, who are seeking to enjoy a fancy dress style party with an additional 'theme'. The setup of these games can be simple or elaborate. Some games require no setup beyond a way to randomly select the roles; however, some party hosts like to develop an elaborate menu and decorate extensively. As well as providing the food and drink for the evening, the party host is required to follow the simple instructions, prepare for the party in advance, and generally co-ordinate proceedings during the evening. Organizers of the mystery can select roles and characters based on their knowledge of the guests.
Some of the box games can actually be solved by the players, using the clues provided, whilst others can't and are played just as a form of light entertainment. Players are usually required to 'act' as one of the characters/suspects involved in the plot, and must ask and reply to questions using the information provided in their character booklets and on clue sheets.
Murder mystery games come in several different versions: