How to Host a Virtual Murder Mystery Party

Get ready for a night full of wild guesses and whodunit fun.

Photo: Getty Images

Too much screen time has its downsides, but let's not forget the benefits of FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype: They offer us interaction with beloved friends and family who might not live in our city. Sometimes virtual get-togethers are the only way to go. And if you're itching for even more interaction, then it's time to get creative.

The allure of a murder mystery party? It's all about the drama. Guests get to dress up and pretend to be someone else in an alternate world for a few hours.

The easiest way to organize a murder mystery is to hire someone who does it for a living. So we asked two such professionals how to go about using their services. Here's how to host an unforgettable night with loved ones.

01 of 07

Pick a Theme

From the plot to the players involved, having a theme will set the tone for the entire night. "Each mystery is designed for a specific number of people so that each guest plays an integral part of the mystery and has their own unique story arc," explains Dylan Zwickel, co-founder of Ghost Ship Murder Mysteries.

While the company typically offers a "Ghost Ship Party," where an in-character representative runs the party at your home, they also host online mysteries using the same concept.

"Four of our five mysteries are available for online play: Murder in the West Wing (6 players), Mafia (7 players), Western (10 players), and That Show About Love (10 players)," says Zwickel.

02 of 07

Assign the Cast

"Assign the character roles to your players and send the character packets," says Bon Blossman, creator of My Mystery Party, a series of games specifically formatted and tested to be played on a video chat. "With our games, the host can play along without spoiling anything, and there is no printing or preparation before the game."

Ghost Ship Murder Mysteries has the host fill out a quick survey so they pick the cast appropriately for you. "Then we send out a character list and individual character secrets so guests can come (to the Zoom) in costume if they so choose, and the murderer can prepare their lies," says Zwickel.

As the host, make sure your cast members review their bios and the suspect list prior to the big event. "Some games will give the players tasks to contact each other in character before the game," says Blossman. "This builds pre-game excitement."

03 of 07

Gather Your Costume and Backdrop

"You'll need to think about your backdrop and costume for your character," says Blossman. "Zoom has virtual backdrops, which is a lot of fun—both before and during the game." As for getting into character, consider going all out with makeup and hair. Gather a costume using items around the house.

04 of 07

Choose the Day, Time, and Video Chat Host

Get the logistics taken care of as soon as you have everyone on board to take part. Agree on a video chat host, then pick a day and time that works for everyone.

05 of 07

Enter the Video Chat

"When each player logs on, it's hysterical to see everyone's backdrop and costume," says Blossman. As a host of a My Murder Party experience, you'll be tasked with reading the player instructions to all participants.

If you try out the virtual Ghost Ship experience, participants will be accompanied by a Ghost Ship representative, who will serve as a minor character and guide the party. This allows the host to play along with everyone else.

06 of 07

Share and Seek Information

Unlike an in-person murder mystery party, you can't exchange information with another participant by stealthily whispering in their ear in the corner of a room. Instead, these private side conversations will take place via phone calls, FaceTime, texts, etc. Here, guests will trade information and work together. "Or, if they prefer, lie, cheat, and gossip to solve the mystery before the time is up," says Zwickel.

Depending on the virtual experience you're using, you'll have different steps to follow prior to accusing someone of being the murderer. But they ultimately involve discussing evidence-style information with other participants. For a My Mystery Party experience, every murder game has a forensic report to review and discuss prior to participants revealing who they think the murderer is.

07 of 07

Accuse a Murderer

The moment of reckoning has arrived! Each player will need to make their guess as to whodunit.

For a My Mystery Party, the host will have everyone write their answers on a piece of paper. "When the host says 3, 2, 1, they flash their answers on their screens," says Blossman. "They do it all at once so they don't get to change their answers."

Once the real murderer is revealed, stick around to rehash your experience with the other players—and maybe apologize for wrongfully accusing your sweet Aunt Martha of committing a brutal homicide.

RELATED: 13 Genius Ideas for an Effortless Outdoor Party

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