In this time of social distancing and self-isolation, maintaining social connections means using video chat to play games, tell stories, listen to music or simply connect, face-to-face, with our people.

Shot In The Dark Mysteries has always been about giving people a reason, an excuse, if you will, to get together, live and in person, face-to-face with our friends, family and chosen family, to create memories no one will ever forget – memories that will pull us through the tough times… like these.

Suddenly, that is not possible, BUT we are all very fortunate to have the internet and some great tech at our fingertips – and THIS is how we will keep those connections alive in these crazy times.

We are going so far as to call it “Social Distance Sleuthing”! Here are the steps for you to easily host a virtual murder mystery.

9 Simple Steps for Throwing a Virtual Murder Mystery!

  1. Select Your Video Chat Platform

If you’re using Zoom, make sure to read How to Host a Virtual Murder Mystery using Zoom for more specific options. As well, visit SHOT Zoom Backgrounds for FREE downloads to customize your party!

The video chat tool that you pick is important. They all have certain features that you may want to include. As well, it gives everyone time to get access and play around beforehand. Some options include Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, Messenger & FaceTime.

It is also smart to show up early to your party so that you can help troubleshoot online access with your guests – remember, this is new technology for a lot of us, so allot a bit of extra time for your guests to get into your party!

Create your meeting invite link with the date and time. It typically takes 1.5-2 hours to complete a virtual murder mystery.

2. Choose Your Mystery

Our 1500+ mystery variations are all available for virtual parties! However, we recommend 6-10 suspects maximum to keep it manageable. Mysteries that have a theme or costume element that can be easily created at home are the best, or costume casual mysteries – while you want everyone to get into the theme, options for getting costume elements are limited right now.

Some of our suggestions for a virtual mystery party are:

Murder at the Winery – Pour a glass and you have a costume!

A Gangster Murder at the 1920s Speakeasy – Get creative with flapper attire!

Murder at Cherry Creek Saloon – Step out of the time of the pandemic and go back to the time of the Wild West!

Murder at the 1980s Prom – Balloons and big hair!

3. Send Your Invitations

The Shot In The Dark murder mystery packages include customizable digital invitations specific to each mystery. Simply enter the details and send via email to your guests. At the bottom there is a section where you can provide the invite link to your virtual party.

Of course, if you prefer, you can use social media channels, like Facebook events, to invite your mystery party guests to your virtual murder mystery party!

Once you get the RSVPs, you can start to get your suspect list together!

4. Email Guests Their Suspect Guides

Suspect Guides are provided in your mystery materials in a separate file for each role. These guides describe the character, their hidden motives, what information they know that can be shared with everyone else and instructions for how to play. The Guides are formatted in individual files so you can easily send the .pdf file to each guest playing a character. Even better, if you, as the host, would like to participate, you don’t have to worry about handling the clues and potentially spoiling the mystery for yourself. Each person playing a Suspect will receive a Suspect Guide. These guides tell each Suspect how to play and what to expect… so that you don’t have to!

Sending them their information ahead of time allows them to get familiar with their information. Some Suspects have a complicated back story, and most guests find it helpful to have time to let all of the information sink in, but ultimately, what you do for your party is entirely up to you. Keep in mind though, that for the majority of people, being in a virtual environment is a new experience, so sending them their Suspect Guide ahead of time help prevent overwhelm when you come together live to solve the mystery!

5. Announcement of Murder

Once everyone is logged in as their character, begin your mystery experience with the Announcement of Murder.

Your mystery comes with audio files. We encourage you to use the audio files, however they are optional. If you are using the audio files, depending on your virtual environment you should be able to share your screen with all participants, then press “Play” on the “Announcement of Murder” file.

You can also choose instead to have someone read the transcript of the “Announcement of Murder” (in your Host Materials folder) instead.

6. Question The Suspects

The Announcement of Murder provides some questions that will get the investigators going. These are also provided for quick and easy reference on the Notes pages. Based on what they learn from asking these initial questions, they will naturally come up with questions of their own.

The interactive, mingle-mystery format is unique to Shot In The Dark, and it translates over to the virtual environment. Since no one knows who the murderer is, everyone can participate in the questioning. Just make sure that everyone listens to each other and take turns asking questions.

See How to Host a Virtual Murder Mystery Party using Zoom to learn more about breakout rooms and 1 on 1 chat options to keep each sleuth’s investigations private!

You can choose to set a time limit on investigations, and how long you set is up to you. We recommend this, as it adds a really fun sense of urgency to the experience. Here is an example of how you can set a time limit on your mystery party investigation:

  1. Determine how long you want the mystery to last in total (for example, 2 hours)
  2. Allow 15 minutes for the Announcement of Murder, and for the Suspects to introduce themselves
  3. Allow 15 minutes for accusations to be cast at the end and for the “Big Reveal”

In this example, your investigations would last 90 minutes.

7. Cast The Accusations

One of our favourite things to do when hosting mystery parties is to have everyone say who they accuse and why. This is essential during a virtual murder mystery party because without being able to write down and submit one’s accusation, as we would at a live party, this is the way to lock in each person’s accusations. You can also have each person type their official accusation in the chat box so that no one can renege on who they accused!

8. The Big Reveal

The end of the mystery is marked by The Big Reveal. Once everyone has cast their accusations against the killer, it’s time to reveal the guilty party!

Share your screen and play “The Big Reveal” audio file or read the transcript called “The Big Reveal”, included in your Host Materials.

9. Be Social With Us!

We are on social media with tips, tricks and inspiration from our own events, as well as pictures and ideas from other hosts! Come share your screenshots with us and other hosts and guests! Find us @shotinthedarkmysteries on Instagram, Facebook and Google.