Digital Murder Mystery Dinner

August 25, 2020
Becca Johnson Director, Northwest Collegiate Ministries, Oregon State University
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One of our desires as a BCNet Evangelism Committee is to provide collegiate directors with ideas for evangelism on their campus. We have provided ideas in four categories: First Contact, Conversational Outreach, Community Integration, and Gospel Proclamation. We hope that the following Community Integration event will be useful to you and your students!  

MATERIALS

There is nothing like a good murder mystery to bring people together! If you are looking for a fun and creative way for a group of people to get to know each other, this is it. Here is what you will need:

  • A ZOOM account – Preferably one that is a Pro account because this could take longer than the free subscription will allow.
  • Everyone’s email or mailing address – This is how you will distribute the roles that each individual will play at the event
  • A Free or purchased Murder Mystery Package – There are a variety of different ones that are free or you can purchase a package for anywhere from $20-70. They usually come as a downloadable file that you can print or send to others. The one you choose will differ based on the amount of people you plan on hosting at the event and how involved you want it to be. Click here to be directed to some free options and here for some potential cost effective options. If one of these does not work, search the web for virtual murder mystery party to find more mysteries!
  • Encourage guests to dress up to fit the occasion – If it’s western, then western themed, if its 80’s prom, then 80’s prom themed!

For our virtual murder mystery dinner we sent the roles in the mail along with props, a gift card to walmart so they could purchase their favorite snack food, and decorations to make everyone feel like it was a party. This is not necessary, but it adds a nice touch. All of our goodies went with the theme of the event which was 80’s prom themed.

PRIOR TO THE EVENT

Before the event, take some time to read over the information packet that you receive in the download. This is really important and even though it takes a little time, will help you in the long run to know what’s going on. Then you will assign the roles to the individuals attending the event and send those roles out either by mail or email. I recommend reading through all the characters before assigning them, especially if there are weird relationship dynamics in your group (Example: it’s awkward to assign a student a role where they are “dating” their Ex). If you have not used ZOOM before I would take some time getting to know how to use it because knowing how to operate it correctly can be the difference between a really successful event and a nightmare. I found this resource to be extremely helpful in explaining the different ways to use ZOOM to host a murder mystery dinner. Schedule the event on zoom and send out the link to all the participants. Make sure that everyone has received their roles and is ready to go the night of the event. If you know of someone that cannot make it last minute it’s important to check and make sure that their role is not crucial to the mystery, and reassign their part if it is.


DURING THE EVENT

Digital Murder Mystery Dinner 3Each mystery package should come with a detailed schedule of what needs to happen and when. It can be a little challenging as the host to try and keep up with it all, while participating in the event. I would recommend that if you are playing the host, take a lowkey role with not a lot of responsibilities so that during the event you can host things smoothly. As you already know, it can sometimes be hard to get conversations going on ZOOM especially if people don’t know each other very well. Starting with role introductions can be a fun way to get to know everyone and can begin to get the conversation moving. If you have a large group, splitting up into breakout rooms for the “get to know you” could save time and help people feel more comfortable with introducing themselves. Once the murder has been solved, have the participants vote for their favorite actor or actress as well as the best dressed by sending you names in the private chat.

A FEW MORE IDEAS

  • Something to consider when choosing your mystery is that not all of them are clean. I wouldn’t have known this if I hadn’t read through several of the mystery options. Make sure before purchasing an event package that what you are purchasing is ministry friendly!
  • After doing this event, I think that it would work the best in a small-medium sized group. We did it with a larger group and it was harder to make sure that everyone felt included. Ideal size would be anywhere from 8-25 people. (However, I know from experience that you can do it with as many as 45-50 people).
  • Make sure that someone else in your group has the information about what’s going on. This can be helpful if your internet spazzes out and you need backup (also speaking from experience. . .)
  • IF you are using this as a way for people to get to know each other better it might be fun after all the scheduled things take place for people to introduce themselves for real. You could have everyone answer who they really are, what they are studying and who they thought did the crime!

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