Currently I am researching mystery games that would be suitable for a kid’s party. The idea is to host a mystery game party theme for 12 or so “would be sleuths”. So far I have come up with some ideas that I have written about in the A kid’s murder mystery game blog post.
One of the few documented murder mystery games that can be played by younger quests is the Victorian parlor game “Wink murder” also known as “Killer”, “Murder in the dark” and “Lonely Ghost”.
The game can be played with as few as 4 people but is more entertaining when played with upwards of 6 and there is no upper limit, so this game is well suited for a kid’s party with a large number of guests. I have placed this party idea in the age’s 9 to 12 category but younger guests might be able to play also.
The game of Wink murder is played as follows:-
One of the players is secretly identified as the “murderer”. This is achieved by giving out cards, or notes, to players and one of them is marked with a star or other distinguishing mark, the person receiving this card is the murderer. Regular playing cards can be used for this, just include the Ace of Spades in the cards and give out a card to each person, the one who gets the Ace of Spades is the murderer.
The players then sit in a circle and begin talking to each other (idle chat) to discover who the murderer is. The idea is that as they are talking to each other the murderer makes eye contact with someone and secretly winks at them. Note: if you have young guests that have trouble winking then blinking (two eyes) can also be used, but in either case this action should be done as discreetly as possible. It is important that only the murderer winks or blinks at people (otherwise the game is invalid). After a person has be winked at then they silently count to 5 then pretend they have been murdered (the more theatrical the better!). The person who has been murdered then exits the circle and takes no further part in the game. The idea is that the murderer will now be looking at someone else and hopefully no one will have noticed his or her previous action.
If a player believes they know the identity of the murderer they raise their hand and say “I accuse”, and nothing else. After a person has said “I accuse” there is a slight pause and if someone in the group also believes they know the identity of the murderer then they say “I also accuse”. If no one says “I also accuse” then the game continues (with the guests talking and the murderer trying to wink at other victims). If there is another person who says “I also accuse” then the two accusers count “1-2-3” and then both point to the person (simultaneously) who they are accusing. If they both point to the same person and that person is the murderer, then that game concludes and another can begin. If both players point to the same person who declares himself as not being the murderer, then both the accusing players are removed from the game (just as the people who have been murdered have been removed). The person who has been falsely accused remains in the game to accuse others or become a victim. If the accusers point to two different people then the accusers are both removed from the game and neither of the accused players has to reveal themselves as the murderer.
The game continues until the murderer has been correctly identified or there are only 2 people left in the game (then the murderer has ‘won’). Another game can then start if the party wishes it.
Some notes on playing the game of Wink murder.
In order to make it not as obvious that a murder is taking place (the winking), the room can be slightly darkened but not so much that the eyes cannot be seen. Also another activity can take place so as to occupy the ‘victims’ time. For example a game of ‘Apples to Apples’ can be played out whilst a game of Wink murder is in progress. The Wink murder is the primary game and the Apples to Apples (or other activity) ends as the Wink murder game ends.
For younger children it might be difficult for them not to give away the fact that they are the murderer but for kids of around 8 or 9, this should not be an issue.