We began as a business in 1988, creating and running murder mysteries for corporate groups and private parties. We still do that, c/o our sister company Murder Mystery and Mayhem.
When the Internet arrived, we saw an opportunity. What if we made some of our games available for people to download and run themselves? Murder Mystery Games was formed in 1999 and has been selling downloadable online whodunits ever since. Much copied, never matched – as the Feedback we receive keeps reminding us.
So, who are “we”? People from a mixture of backgrounds: acting, the law, computing, business, engineering, journalism, corporate training. Our mysteries brim over with the ingredients all good detective stories need. In them you’ll find great characters. Real surprises. Ingenious plot strands which are both highly entertaining and perfectly credible. Lines of enquiry which keep people thinking and questioning till the very end. Rich and textured enough to appeal to super sleuths. Witty and wacky enough to keep everyone laughing. Robust enough to keep guests involved, even after quite a few drinks!
In most of our games, everyone has their own character to play. This helps remove the awkwardness people can feel at social occasions. Mixing with and talking to everyone else is made easier for them. Because everyone is playing a character, there’s always much more to do and talk about than at a conventional party. Friends enjoy seeing what those they’ve known for years get up to when being someone completely different. And complete strangers instantly have something interesting in common with each other. In our experience, nothing gets people talking as freely and easily as when they’re on the trail of a Murder Mystery Games murderer.
In his brilliant Decline of the English Murder essay, George Orwell notes how much pleasure a good murder can bring people. According to him, this is what’s needed for a story to work well:
“The murderer should be a little man of the professional class — a dentist or a solicitor, say — living an intensely respectable life somewhere in the suburbs, and preferably in a semi-detached house, which will allow the neighbours to hear suspicious sounds through the wall. He should be either chairman of the local Conservative Party branch, or a leading Nonconformist and strong Temperance advocate. He should go astray through cherishing a guilty passion for his secretary or the wife of a rival professional man, and should only bring himself to the point of murder after long and terrible wrestles with his conscience. Having decided on murder, he should plan it all with the utmost cunning, and only slip up over some tiny unforeseeable detail. The means chosen should, of course, be poison.”
Been there, George. Done that. But not in every plot…