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My Next Project: Space Virus

posted Mar 8, 2012, 10:23 PM by Good Idea Games

Mafia is a popular parlor game invented in cold-war Russia, so University students could live out their fantasies of being hunted to death in their sleep. Psychologically, it’s a game about an informed minority vs a majority. The game play consists exclusively of human interaction. Players need to talk to each other, and gather relevant information related who is part of the Mafia, and who isn’t. To play Mafia, you make the conversation real, and relevant so players’ responses have value: “Who would you kill if you were Mafia, and why?” “So and So was killed last night. Why do you think they were targeted?” You talk to everyone, and over several conversations (after several turns, and several murders) you look for the players who are hiding something. The players who are clearly thinking something they are not saying.

I absolutely adore the game, but have some issues with the game’s balance. The first turn, the uneducated majority (the Townsfolk) lynch another player. They have to. And they have very little evidence to go off of. I have had first rounds take over an hour, as 9 people have to each get interviewed, and then some sort of educated decision must be reached about who to string up. Even then, it usually just comes down to the numbers, and odds are the Townsfolk are killing one of their own.

What if the game produced a little more to work with? What if the Mafia left a paper trail? What if there were more options available to the groups, but every option left behind permanent clues as to who was doing what?

My next project is a spin-off of this incredible parlor game, I am referring to it affectionately as Space Virus.