22 Jun

The Best Virtual Murder Mystery Party Ideas

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Are you looking for a fun event to test the investigative skills in your group? Ever wanted to see whether you have what it takes to crack a case? A virtual murder mystery party is a great choice! It is a fun and interactive event that will bring your team together while you work to solve the ultimate question: Who did it?

Hosting a Murder Mystery to Solve Online

A virtual murder mystery party is a super fun event to attend, but fortunately, it is also an easy and fun event to host! We know being the “host” of a party can sound daunting, but we promise it is not! Here are some easy steps to start planning your murder mystery to solve online.

The first step is to pick a day and build your attendee list. Will you be including just your direct work team or going head-to-head with some other divisions or offices? Once you have that list, you will need to create a virtual meeting place for your party (our favorite virtual platform is Zoom for its functionality). After you get your base pieces set, it’s time for the fun part: What is your theme? Where do you want to solve this crime? What are the characters like? The virtual murder mystery ideas are endless! When all details are decided, it’s time to send the meeting link and an invite to hold the time on everyone’s calendar. We recommend sending out a themed invite for your group to help build excitement.

Now, we totally understand that life can get busy, and you may want some help planning this event. Don’t worry – we are here! Escapely offers a virtual murder mystery team building activity that we help you plan from start to finish. All you need to do is pick your day and time, and of course, invite your best investigators to help you crack the case! We handle the rest. As a bonus, our game is fully interactive, with live actors to immerse your groups into the scene. It’s a blast!

Being the host doesn’t have to be scary – we make it easy!

Virtual Murder Mystery Party Themes

A virtual murder mystery party is bound to be enjoyable, especially with a great theme! We highly recommend building excitement for the crime you are solving by creating a theme. For those more ambitious, encouraging murder mystery costumes at the event makes it even more immersive and enjoyable! We have quite a few virtual murder mystery ideas to suggest, so if you’re not sure where to start, grab your detective hat and choose one of these themes.

Murder in the Speakeasy

The drinking of alcohol is prohibited! Except at the speakeasy, where you find yourself presented with a crime: murder. This popular murder mystery idea takes your group back to the 1920s when secrets were strong in the hidden speakeasy. From there, you have to follow clues and leads that could guide you to the murderer. First, of course, you’ll need a strong ability to identify the truth because, back then, lying was part of the game.

In keeping with this style, your suspects may have to lie about their background, their personal details, where they were, and so much more. It’s up to you and your team to separate fact from fiction – after all, a virtual murder mystery wouldn’t be much fun if everyone told the truth and you knew immediately who did it. This theme has great potential for elaborate costumes, accents, storylines, and more as you bring your teams back to the ’20s to solve a mystery. It’s the perfect time to encourage dressing up in murder mystery costumes to match the theme. Plus, getting into character might even help you solve the crime. Whatever you choose, a 1920s speakeasy murder is sure to be a hoot!

Mystery Mansion

A mansion may be the perfect place to commit a crime, but it’s also a hard place to escape once the investigation begins! With a mansion, there are many rooms and crevices to hide evidence so participants have many opportunities to uncover different pieces of the puzzle. You will get to make decisions like which room will you be investigating and trapped in? How many suspects will there be? And your participants will need to decide whether they’re getting the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or whether secrets will be kept.

Mansions are not inexpensive, so we recommend leaning into the opulent aesthetic with this virtual murder mystery party theme. You can create a lavish backstory and virtual decor to trap your participants in a unique space while they crack the case. Depending on the storyline, your team may be working with the police to solve this escalated crime or solving it as their own group of investigators. One twist that you can add if you wish to put people in the hot seat is to have each player prove their innocence to the others over the course of the game. Everyone can be a suspect!

As far as costumes go, with such an extravagant storyline, this virtual murder mystery idea leaves plenty of options to play with. Players can dress in period costumes if they want to go back in history or put on costume jewels and opulent robes. In addition to the costumes, participants can even bring props like canes, tiaras, and candlesticks. A murder in a mansion is sure to be filled with twists and turns that will keep your team engaged!

Museum Heist

Museum Heist
Picture this: Rare collections of artwork and historical artifacts line the walls with the scent of history…but something is missing. There has been a heist, and you will need your team to help to solve it! In this storyline, there is a famous piece of artwork missing that needs to be recovered. Rather than solving a murder, your team will work together to locate the missing piece and figure out who did it. You can set some pressure at the beginning of the event by telling everyone the museum is opening soon. The players must ensure no one knows something is wrong! This virtual murder mystery idea may not always include murder, but it does not lose any fun as you still work to solve a crime! Does your team have what it takes? 

This type of murder mystery party idea can even be done in the style of an escape room. You can have your team work together closely to sort through clues and navigate the museum layout. Players can work together to retrace the thief’s steps, perhaps with the use of a maze, and rely on their investigative skills to get them to crack the case. It’s a great team building exercise because they will need to be able to dissect what is important and also work quickly to recover the missing artwork and uncover the thief before the museum opens. This mystery team building idea will put pressure on everyone in a fun and motivating way. To spice it up, you may also find a version that adds the twist of two crimes: a heist and a murder. So please put on your investigative hats – it is about to get real!

Haunted Schoolhouse

Chances are there are people on your team who thought school was a “scary” place when you were younger. What better virtual murder mystery idea than a haunted schoolhouse? Imagine an eerie and dark school with spirits wandering the hallways. In the midst of this, your team – the best investigators around – is called in to investigate a crime: a murder. The classrooms, offices, staff lounges, and more are filled with clues and hints, but you need to be very careful as you search – a haunting spirit follows you. Will you all be able to escape the grip of this schoolhouse victorious, or will this be the last crime you try to solve? 

In a haunted schoolhouse, you can expect a dark atmosphere, keeping you and your team on the edge of your seat. We suggest keeping lights dim so that everyone feels there could be watchful eyes around them, and, of course, throw in a little scare here and there. You could include children haunting the hallway and trying to trap you in the schoolhouse, or there may be twists and turns that set you back. Can you work together to ask the right questions, stay focused, and find the killer?

Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery

Put your team into the shoes of the infamous investigator Sherlock Holmes for this virtual murder mystery idea that everyone will recognize. We recommend you dial it back to the early 1920s when Sherlock Holmes was in his prime as a young adult. Your team will embark on an early investigation in Sherlock Homes’ career: a murder. Your team will get access to the murder scene and search for clues to eliminate all the possibilities of who the murderer is. Different suspects, rooms, and weapons could be involved, and you will need to find exactly which ones you think did it.  

There are both murder mysteries and escape rooms that can be played with this style. In both, you can expect to play a game similar to a virtual clue murder mystery party. You and your team must take all of the evidence, resources, and suspects into play and see where the truth lies for this murder. It’s a retro theme in which teams will have to channel their inner detective abilities…and as mentioned before, a costume might help! They say to dress for the job you want, and today, you want to be an investigator and escape! 

The Lost Mummy

The Lost Mummy

While normal murder investigations happen soon after the murder occurs, this virtual murder mystery idea is a little different. This time, an ancient soul that left us years ago is represented as a mummy. But something has happened…it has gone missing! Your team will travel back to ancient Egyptian times and immerse yourselves in the history as you try to solve the mystery of who stole the lost mummy. 

Expect to be surrounded by temples, pyramids, historical artifacts, and history! In a theme like this, your team will work together to solve the crime of the lost mummy, but it could get a little tricky. With all those years past, the clues may be harder to read, not to mention written in the foreign language of hieroglyphics. If you go with this theme, you will of course need to provide some translations from the future. Your team will love deciphering the clues and uncovering the missing pieces to return the mummy to its rightful spot! Can you do it?

Steps to Hosting a Virtual Murder Mystery Party

A virtual murder mystery team building activity will surely be a memorable adventure, and we want to help make it as successful as possible! Therefore, we will dive into some of the most important pieces of planning and hosting a virtual murder mystery party to be sure you are ready for an extraordinary experience. 

1. Pick a Murder Mystery to Solve Online

The first step is choosing which theme you want to solve in your murder mystery party. There are a lot of virtual murder mystery ideas out there (see our list above for ideas!), and each will provide a unique experience. One of the biggest pieces to consider is which theme will fit your group best. Does your group like historical settings or immersing in a “haunted” scene? Do they want to solve a murder in the present day or work on deciphering things from the past? Once you get a general idea of your group’s vibe, you can work to pick the best murder mystery to solve online. 

On top of fitting the group “vibe,” you also have to consider your group size. There are murder mystery parties explicitly designed for small groups, but if you have a bigger team, then you will need to focus on murder mystery party ideas for large groups. Once these basic questions are answered, you can start your search. I know it sounds cliche, but the easiest way to find some options is to google the theme you are looking for and see what populates. There are so many different vendors at different pricing tiers, and a search will allow you to see all the options available to weed through. There are even some “in-person” options, so if you have a virtual team, I recommend including “virtual” in your search! After you get some front runners from your search, you can factor in the smaller details like ease of working with the company, reviews, price, and availability. Then you can pick a winner and start solidifying the planning!

2. Organize your guest list

A virtual murder mystery idea is a great event, but what makes it more fun is experiencing it with your group! That being said, you want to make sure your guest list fits the parameters for a successful event. There are advantages to both small and large groups, and of course, you will need to take into account your company’s budget. You will also need to answer questions like do you want to play as one team, or do you want to split into multiple teams and see who cracks the case with the most accuracy?

If you choose to play as one team, we recommend you stay in the 5-10 people range. This size will allow your game to move at a steady pace with the right amount of brainpower contributing to solving the crime while also allowing everyone to participate. If your group size for a singular team gets too big, some may feel like their experience was hampered because they didn’t get to participate as much. If you want to mix it up and split your group up into teams to compete against each other, which is our personal favorite way to play (who doesn’t love a competition?), then you can choose any size group that your budget allows. We recommend each team stays in that 5-10 range. If you often work on a budget, companies will often allow you to increase your team size to lessen staffing costs. Once you decide whether to play as one team or multiple teams, you can start building out the guest list and putting the event on everyone’s calendar!

3. Discuss what equipment you need

Once you solidify your virtual murder mystery idea and guest list, the next thing to consider is the equipment needed for success. With a virtual event, the main piece will be for all participants to have a device that can connect to the internet and with videoconferencing capabilities. This will allow players to be able to join the meeting platform. We recommend using a laptop or computer because many platforms are more user-friendly on these devices versus a phone or tablet, but if that is all that is available, they can still play! 

Another thing to consider is whether your teams will join remotely from their own devices or whether you will have people in the same location. If you have people in the same location, will they still be on their own devices, or will they join together on one device? The reason this is important to consider is that if they have their own devices in the same location, you will need to take the audio feedback into account, and if they are all using one device, you will need to take the accessibility into account. (And by accessibility, we mean the opportunity for everyone to hear and see the screen, which is crucial to the experience.)

While an internet-connected and video-capable device is the most important piece of equipment needed, there are some other items that will make the experience better. Some other things you may need during a murder mystery or virtual escape room experience are a pen and paper, a separate device you could use to access the internet for quick searches, and headphones. If participants are in a busy area where they cannot hear their computer or use their computer speakers, headphones will be key! All of these things will help ensure a successful virtual event.

Test your technology

To successfully host any virtual murder mystery idea, we all know that players will need devices to join the meeting platform used for the game. When you schedule your event, be sure to verify which platform will be used, and at that time, we recommend sending your guest list notification to download the appropriate app. Some platforms offer the option to join from a web browser without downloading the app, but we highly recommend encouraging participants not to use that option. Joining from the app always makes the best use of the platform’s functions and provides the best experience. Joining from the browser version often limits functionality. For example, while using Zoom, you cannot use the annotation feature when joining through the browser – only from the app. 

One last thing to consider with the tech test is the number of people who will be sharing a device. If you plan to use a conference room, know that some require certain “extensions” in order to use the video conferencing platforms within conference rooms. This may need to be an extra purchase through your platform or something your vendor will supply. Be sure your vendor knows you are planning to use a conference room to be able to plan properly for a successful event! 

After participants download the app, they will want to ensure it is working properly. We recommend getting the whole group together for a tech test prior to the event so that you don’t waste precious event time getting connected and troubleshooting connectivity issues. Our preferred platform for virtual events is Zoom because of the built-in functionalities like annotation, the use of breakout rooms if needed, and the ability to share screen audio. It is overall the most user-friendly. Plus, it’s free! A Zoom murder mystery party will let you dive into the game and help you get the most out of the experience!

4. Organize your theme

Choosing the best murder mystery to solve online is step one. Then you can amp it up and go all out with the theme! This event is supposed to be a fun experience that lets your group and team have a chance to bond outside of the normal “office.” It is meant to be a murder mystery party, so let’s do our best to make it a party. Picking a theme and encouraging participation will help with this! Depending on the company you choose to use for your event, they may already give you a theme specific to the murder mystery you choose. If it is a generic theme, you can always add your own theme on top to spice it up!

Some of our favorite themes are a century theme (the 80s, 90s, etc.) or a location theme (Hawaiian, Sherlock Holmes in England, etc.). Choosing the right theme will transform your event from an ordinary team building experience to an exciting event everyone will look forward to! You can include decor, custom invitations, food themes to accompany it, or even an “event box” that you send to all your virtual guests to open together during the event. This is a great way to immerse people who might feel distanced while working from home. There are options to include everyone, and your theme will be sure to build excitement!

Costumes and Backdrops

Once you pick the right theme, your event will be transformed into a virtual murdering mystery party and you can start to encourage the environment and participants to coincide. This could be in the way of costumes or decor pieces that really bring out the theme. You can have participants dress up like suspects, investigators, or even the victim! It doesn’t need to break the bank – you can encourage participants to go to thrift stores or even use things they have lying around. If you want more participation, we suggest holding a costume contest. Having a contest usually increases the amount of people who wear a costume and ups the ante in this category. 

After you have costumes squared away, you can think about the backdrops and decor you want to include. If any of the attendees will be together in person, you can hang backdrops around the room you will be in, and maybe even include some table decor! We suggest small things like centerpieces or themed pens and pads of paper to help the group feel involved. If it is a virtual event, you can ask your group to choose a virtual background that matches either the theme or the costume they are coming in! We suggest sending out a few options to help everyone get the creative juices flowing and also to accommodate those who may be reluctant to make their own. Google has great options for virtual backgrounds. It’s fun for participants to have a say in decorating the event, and costumes and backgrounds will jazz up your event into something extra special!

5. Launch and Solve Your Murder Mystery

After following these steps, your virtual murder mystery idea will be coming to life. You have chosen your mystery, invited all of your participants with the link for the game, leaned into the theme with costumes and decor, and maybe even sent out some little physical things to help get them excited. Now it’s time for the party! 

When you are ready for the event to start, send out one last email to your team reminding them to join the meeting link on time. You will want to make sure people don’t trickle in late so you can get the most out of your playing time. (There are often specific time frames after which your hosts will need to wrap up.) At the start time, join the link, and from there, welcome your team online and get them excited! As soon as the event is ready, you can relax. You get to become a participant, immerse yourself in the experience, and enjoy yourself. Encourage communication and participation, and most importantly, have fun!

Give away awards and prizes!

 6. Awards and Prizes

If there is one thing that has consistently proven to increase participation in any event, it’s prizes! An incentive entices anyone who might be on the fence and augments the excitement of those who would have attended no matter what. Bragging rights are always fun, of course, but to up the ante, you can give away a physical item! We suggest a trophy, prize money, a gift card, paid time off, or even the opportunity to declare a company event or theme day. You can even theme the prize to the event you chose. For example, if you chose a Sherlock Holmes-themed event, your prize could be a magnifying glass trophy and a day of paid time off to go “investigate” a new adventure of their choosing.

Notifying your team that a prize or award is up for grabs should be done in advance. For one, it will encourage attendance. Also, many people are more motivated when they have an end goal. You will need a clear way to determine how you will choose the winner or winners (depending on whether you are playing as teams or as one group with an individual winner). You can award the people who brought the most fun and entertainment to the experience, those with the best costumes, those who contributed the best ideas, or those who were the biggest team players. There are even murder mysteries that award a winner based on how well they solve the crime.

Why a Murder Mystery is a Great Team Building Activity

A virtual murder mystery event is an experience that will allow your group to think outside the box and collaborate with each other while aiming for a common goal, namely to solve a crime. This is a great team building activity because it requires a wide range of thinking to ensure all the evidence and theories are considered. Everyone’s brain works differently, so each participant will have valuable contributions, questions, and thoughts that are different from one another. At a virtual murder mystery, collaboration is vital, and your team will have to practice listening to and evaluating opinions different from their own.

It’s also a great team building experience because it’s interactive. There are so many activities that simply require participants to watch something – for example, a comedy show or a speaker. Those have their time and place, but a virtual murder mystery will get coworkers talking to each other, sharing ideas, and eventually agreeing on an outcome. Even better, usually inside jokes are formed amongst co-workers. The characters are often quite lively, and your team will have fun interrogating them and trying to find holes in the story.

Even though teammates will be working on collaboration, idea sharing, leading, and listening, an event like this will bring your team closer together without them even realizing it. They will feel as though they are just having fun. Virtual murder mystery team building events can even be used for more than just a company event. They can be played with family, friends, social groups, and more.

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