Check out the latest fad in corporate games - murder Mystery workshops
Murder is serious business. Ask M D Riti, who makes a living out of this macabre activity. Before you ask, no, she will not bump off a pesky relative for you. But if you’re looking for a rollicking time slap-bang in the middle of a juicy murder mystery, Riti is the person to contact.
A first of its kind in southeast Asia, Riti’s Murder Games is a six-year-old company in Bangalore which creates murders that are fun for everyone, even the victim. Though it brings to mind an Agatha Christie type of set-up where an unexpected and suspicious death occurs during a dinner party, it can be deadly serious as well — pun unintended. Riti’s company specialises in running mystery workshops for corporate houses to train employees. It appears that jumping into a make-believe whodunit is a wonderful way to bring colleagues together in unique problem-solving exercises, having fun in the bargain. Organisations hire Riti’s Murder Games to run team-building exercises, and to conduct communications skills training and soft skills training programmes through mystery games. It helps trainers examine and assess how groups work together, and often helps mediate delicate problems within a team.
A game typically consists of a group of participants finding themselves in a situation, and the plot progresses to one of them becoming a murder victim and another a murderer. Each person at various times is a potential victim or suspect. The group has to work out the motive, weapon and opportunity, and zero in on the killer. At present, Riti’s Murder Games averages about 16 events a month.
Riti, a journalist with over 20 years of experience, a writer, communications specialist and games creator, has — no surprises here — always been a fan of the mystery genre. “I read all the children’s mysteries I came across as a child and teen, watched movies and TV serials as an adult, and did a lot of investigative and crime writing as a journalist. The thought struck me that it would be fun to simulate mystery experiences as fun exercises for adults.” And thus began an unusual journey.
“A murder mystery activity could take anywhere between a week to a month to conceptualise and create,” says Riti. Apart from a large faculty of trainers of varying skills, she has a growing database of plots, characters and mysteries. She is equipped for different kinds of scenarios. “In an indoor dress-up type mystery, all participants are characters in an exciting plot, in which one or more could be murderers, others could be victims, and everyone else a suspect or detective,” explains Riti. “An outdoor mystery recreates the experience of jumping into a mystery video game or a TV serial. Participants examine crime scenes, track down real suspects played by our actors, and build up cases to prove who-dun-it. Then, we have supper theatre type interactive games, in which audiences become part of exciting mysteries that play out in their midst.” Organising to deliver a mystery could take up to an entire day, and between one and nine facilitators to run. The solution, of course, remains a closely guarded secret.
Riti has an impressive list of companies who have hired her services. “Our mystery workshops are customised to suit each client,” she says. “Structures are varied according to training design requirements.” And being aware of the dynamics of the participant group is essential as well. While mysteries are made to order, a routine Budget Mystery consists of a treasure-hunt type of adventure, where participants search for clues and pool their resources to solve the mystery. The level of complexity, duration and number of players can vary.
Riti’s Murder Games can also custom-build a do-it-yourself kit, with everything you’d need to recreate a make-believe murder. “The DIY box is meant for trainers employed by companies who would like to run a mystery as a training activity in-house,” says Riti. “They contain theatre props for use by characters in the mystery, detailed character briefs, and clear instructions on how to set up run and train on the mystery. They are reusable, but carry licences for use up to a certain time period.”
Apart from Bangalore, Riti’s Murder Games strikes regularly in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. “At present, we run these programmes by sending out our teams from Bangalore, [but] within the next few months, we will have our trainers in these other locations,” says Riti.