Dinner Party Murder Mystery

by | Nov 8, 2016 | Artwork #3: Intervene


Main game choices can be found on twitter.com/dinnerparty_GM

Screenshots of off-twitter discussion (please excuse my friends – they got progressively more aggressive as the game went on)

(detective’s note taking)

(Mr.Kangaroo’s plan for Mission 4)

(having to put a time limit on my friends because they were pointing fingers at each other for 30 minutes)

(outsider curiosity [note: dem is my online moniker])


For this piece, I was mostly inspired by the documentary that we watched in class – The Institute. I loved the idea that you could take an ordinary, everyday setting and and give people a space in it where they were allowed to have a dramatic and exciting life, even if only for a moment. I also took note of how some of the former players said they felt in their interviews. I was particularly interested in how the players, despite being in the same space as usual, felt like they were special or that there was something different from them.

With this in mind, I set out to find a space to intervene in. I knew I wanted to try something out on a social media platform (just something I had always been curious about), but I wanted it to be something that captured the essence of everyday life. At this point, my mind drifted over to twitter.

I’m not sure how everyone else uses twitter, but for me and my friends, I’ve noticed that we all use it as a sort of stream of consciousness, open diary sort of thing. The kind of place where you just chat about little thoughts that pop up throughout your day. With only 140 characters to spare, it’s pretty difficult to try and get theatrical on twitter – perfect for an intervention.

As I said earlier, I wanted to allow players to step into a big, dramatic setting. And what better what to do that than with a murder mystery? Using games like Mafia and Avalon/The Resistance as a base, I made a game where players (hopefully) got to feel like detectives on a desperate search for a criminal. I made 5 unique twitter unique accounts for players to use – sort of an add on to give people that extra push into feeling as though they were stepping into a new role on a familiar website.

Gameplay was conducted on twitter and skype. I wanted to keep the twitter feed clean to preserve that theatrical sense, so I had them talk and debate over skype (easy considering we all had accounts anyways). My friends are fans of murder mystery type games, so they really got into their roles – the detective even going so far as to taking notes like an actual detective. Their enthusiasm spilled out into their personal twitters where their other friends started to grow curious and followed along as the game unfolded, creating a sort of spectacle out of it. I hadn’t anticipated this, but it made the game feel as though it were more of an intervention. Not only was this a unique space for players, but it was for spectators as well.