Team Building Activities – How Murder Mystery Games fit in

We’re often being asked what sort of activities could be used for team building ideas along side murder mystery events.  As a result we’ve put together a few blog posts of team building ideas.  Just hit the “Team building” category to find them all.


How to use a murder mystery game as a team building event.

A murder mystery is a great way of getting your team together both socially, and as part of a team building function. It gives them a common goal (solving the mystery), takes them out of the work place environment, enabling them to form their own team structure, and find out in a fun way all about communication issues and working as a team.

Before you select a mystery you need to ask yourself a few questions:


Firstly: How many people is the game for?

If it is for a number greater than 20, one of our large group games would be the most appropriate game to purchase.

If it is for a number less than 20, then a small group game is usually best.

We do supply custom written games and have a variety other options available for event management – so if you don’t see anything the quite suits – just call us on 01472 873021 – and ask to speak to Emma who will talk you through the different event managed options.


Secondly: What are you hoping to achieve through the exercise?

If you simply want to give your team a fun event, a shared common experience that they can talk about together, then any game would work well.

If however you have specific goals in mind then think about how the game will achieve these. Most games can be made to do almost anything you want, but don’t forget, you have access to our free team building ideas when you open an account, and you can always incorporate these games into the event.

Whatever you do, make sure you have some kind of feedback session included which can cover the topics you want to draw out from the exercise.

A few suggestions:


Communication skills

These are highlighted by all the games, as any game requires communication to solve the mystery. However there are specific skills with regards to communication that are probably shown more in the different games, for example:

Formulating appropriate questions: Dinner theatre, Multi-room games

Withholding information: Skit and clue based games

Bargaining: Skit and clue based games

Organisation within the team: All games, mainly dependent on how they are facilitated during the event.

Interrogation skills: Dinner theatre and Multi-room games.

Recording information: All games.

Feeding back to team mates: Dinner Party style games and Skit and Clue based scripts


Organisational skills

Again these can be encouraged in all games, but certain elements are more obvious in some games. For example:

Leadership – All games depending on how they are facilitated. Feed back sheets are essential to find out how each team organised themselves and the information.

Meetings – Skills for meetings will be more obvious in the multi-room games when it comes to picking a winner, and also in the Clue based with short acted scenes, but are used in all.

Allocating tasks / delegation – All games, but more obvious in Clue based with short acted scenes.


Interpersonal Skills

Present in all games, again dependent on how they are facilitated – feedback is essential to show participants these elements in action.

Be aware: Multi-room games can lend themselves to working in isolation if you have some loners among your staff, so if you intend to use one of these, make sure people stay together and meetings are held between visits to cast members to discuss what has been discovered and what their next plan of action will be.

Where mystery games help particularly with regards to interpersonal skills is not necessarily in the here and now, but the effect they have long term, in that they give all your staff a shared experience, something in common upon which they can build relationships.

NOTE: The most important part of any team building event is the debrief and feedback. As a facilitator you will need to ensure you draw out of the experience the relevant points you want your staff to learn.


Thirdly: Venue

For example there is little point in using a multi-room game if you do not have access to numerous rooms.

If you have one large hall then use one of the single room games: the Dinner Party style games,  the skit and clue based games, or the Dinner theatre scripts.


Fourthly: Time available

Most games take on average 2-3 hours to run, but longer to organise.

In terms of organisation the dinner party style are the quickest, requiring only costumes and themed items to get people in the mood; and an inspector style host to “hold everything together”.

Dinner theatre and Multi-room games take the most length of time to organise, and rehearse, but can be the most fun, and also bring out many team building elements.

Skit and Clue games sit somewhere in between, with smaller scripts for cast, but with organisation of the paper clues.

If you have less time available then the dinner party style games lend themselves to having some clues released by email before the day, giving staff time to see questions and answers before the team building day which can also help to get them in the mood. Simply attach a photograph of the cast you have selected with their introductory statements to emails spaced throughout the weeks prior to the event, and if you need to, then also send round the first round information as question and answer for each cast member (again with a photo of the character to help identify the person on the day).



 If you are considering using a murder mystery event then the chances are you are going to be the one facilitating the event.

If you have never run a mystery event before then do not worry; detailed instructions on playing the games come as standard with every murder mystery.

What is not included in the games is a facilitator’s guide, mainly because this is something that is particular to every individual group. Instead listed below are some simple instructions for facilitating the mystery.

Firstly read the instructions for the game thoroughly, getting a feel for how the game operates on a stand alone level.

Next decide what you want the team to achieve (you probably already know this which is why you are looking for a team building activity).

Write a list of these outcomes, for example “I want the team to learn how to verbalise their needs” and then write a list of the game elements beside each outcome that you feel will meet that target.  (NB. we have a more complete list of how murder mysteries fit into team building on the blog… just go hunting!)

For example:


Outcome Mystery element (from clue based with acted scene)
Accurately verbalising needs Obtaining clues from another table that they haven’t already seen.


Deciding which clues are important to the mystery and keeping those to themselves.


Obtaining pens / paper.


These outcome lists then form the basis to help you facilitate the feedback and debrief sessions. You might want to use them to write a few feedback sheets enabling the team to work out themselves how they have achieved each target, with luck they will come up with a similar list to your original and it gets them thinking about it, rather than just being told how they met it.

Any outcomes on your list you do not feel are met by the mystery, might be met by another game that you could include as part of the event. Take a look at the free team building exercises on our blog for some more ideas.

Decide whether you want to run the game as a stand alone event or part of a course. Some games split nicely into rounds that can be spaced out during the day with more traditional course teaching in between. If you are running it as part of a course then think about when to run it. There is usually a “Dead” time after lunch when people generally retreat in on themselves to digest their own lunch. Why not put the mystery there to get them back into focus?

On the day, at the start of the event you need to decide how to make up the teams. You can either split up friendship groups or leave them intact. You could operate the groups in terms of office seating, getting colleagues working better together, or simply do it randomly, for example, those born in January, those born in February, etc. moving the people around afterwards to make the groups even.

You might want to include an icebreaker at the start to get everyone used to talking. Again see the ideas in the team building section of this blog.

During the event we would suggest you are not part of the cast (though you could play the inspector part). Instead you should move around the groups. Get a feel for how each group is solving the case, what their methods are, and record anything significant so you can feed this back to the group as a whole as a learning point.

At the end of the event then you need to facilitate a feedback session. You may want to use the feedback sheet on Red Herring Games to give you a few ideas for questions, or devise your own using the outcomes you wanted them to achieve during the event.

If you get stuck then email us at Red Herring Games. We are here to help!


So what are you waiting for?

There are many reasons a murder mystery works well as a team building exercise. Consider this:

  •  How many times have you groaned inwardly when “team building” is mentioned?
  • How many staff do you know that hate role playing, contact activities such as paint balling, or “boring” team building activities that involve pens and paper?
  • How much money do you have put aside for “team building”?

Murder mystery games are cost effective resources. They are great fun and still NEW to many people on the team building arena and so are not “outmoded”; remaining interesting and exciting for all taking part.

Taking part in a mystery, your staff will begin working as part of a team, assume roles, assign tasks and achieve many of the goals you have in mind as a facilitator, without even realising what they are doing! And for a change they will even enjoy the debriefing sessions!

The mystery can be run as a stand alone activity, or used throughout a weekend to lighten a course.

Mysteries come in many different formats and there are many different games available.

If you need something specific then drop us a line at Red Herring Games. We are here for help and advice, and can even write something to your needs with adequate notice.



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Flexible and fun!

We contacted Red-Herring-Games for a party for a special occasion. Why going to restaurants to eat is the preferred activity to mark milestones is beyond me and my friends.   The choice of mystery was obvious, looking at the options from New Zealand on the web Red Herring stuck out from the international options.  A quick look at the site and games showed subtlety as well a range of choices.  The numbers you could have for each evening was important,  Red Herring had scaling options a good range of scenarios but most importantly were Jo and team being flexible, responsive and helpful.

Rachel McWilliam, Arts Development Officer, Lincs Inspire

Thank you Red Herring Games for the marvellous 'Murder!  Cargo Connections?' event that you organised for us as part of Museums at Night at the Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby. The whole evening went so well and was brilliant fun.  I know from all the feedback that our visitors had a fantastic time. It was really good working with you and I have no doubt that we will do again in the not too distant future.  

A. Nonymous (council employee)

I would like to thank you and your colleague for helping contribute towards our successful conference last month.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy the evening and it was rewarding that so many delegates were able to participate in addition to the main "Actors".  Our conference evaluation froms included the following comments:
  • "Enjoyed the evening entertainment!"
  • The evening entertainment was great and the confusion made it great fun!"
With thanks and best wishes.

Sarah Spencer (Cleethorpes Chronicle)

I had no idea what to expect before purchasing a ticket for Old, New, Borrowed, Blue, which was being staged at a nearby hotel, and feared it might involve taking part in some way. However thankfully for me no acting was necessary, just some amateur sleuthing. "Wedding guests" of which I was one, were called upon to move from room to room in the hotel in groups, questioning a number of possible murderers with the aim of solving the mystery of the dead bridegroom. The interviewees were really fun characters and gave us all some good laughs. Of course they all had motives and it was a case of identifying the shiftiest. The wedding theme was particularly good, as it fitted well with the venue, the buffet that was part of the evening (with a wedding cake in the middle) and the fact that everyone had been able to dress up to fit in without going to the trouble of fancy dress. I didn't think I had enough "evidence" to actually accuse anyone but later regretted not even writing down my first guess as it wouldn't have been too far off the mark. The evening was great fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it and take part. I would definitely recommend Old, New, Borrowed, Blue as good for getting even reluctant or first-time mystery party-goers involved.  

Alan Young (Personal Touch Mortgages)

What a cracking nights entertainment! We don't get out much nowadays with 2 kids and this was exactly what we were looking for in a good night out. Lots of fun with tongue firmly in cheek and everyone kept guessing whodunnit right to the very end. Would definitely attend another!!!!!  


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