Looking for a fun family-friendly Halloween activity? We sat down with Christopher Cunningham, the owner and writer of CC Murder Mysteries to talk about his new business.
[Full disclosure: Cunningham is employed by MormonHub’s parent company and is a frequent contributor to the site.]
MormonHub: What are CC Murder Mysteries?
Christopher Cunningham: Family-friendly murder mystery party games that you can print off at home.
MH: When I think of murder mysteries I think of a dinner theater. What is this then?
CC: This is a party game. You invite your friends, and for an evening you become the characters. It’s like Clue come to life.
MH: What interests you in murder mystery games?
CC: I love being around people, but don’t always have complete confidence in groups. Murder mysteries are great ways to get together with friends, and make it easy to integrate new friends. Plus they’re fun. And when we spend so much of our time having fun in isolation, it’s nice to have fun together.
MH: How did you get the idea to start writing murder mysteries?
CC: Most semesters, BYU-Idaho actually has a murder mystery game that students can attend. But they struggle to find ones that are appropriate. They hired me to write ones that were LDS appropriate.
MH: Walk me through how you go about writing a murder mystery game.
CC: I usually start with a place and time that I then populate with interesting people and relationships. The key is finding fun decisions for people to make. Do I give away this detail? How do I avoid suspicion on me?
I’ve served in youth for most of the time I’ve written them. And when I have a working copy, I’ll sometimes bring them to a combined mutual activity. The youth love it. It’s unlike any other activity night they have.
The pressure of performing them in a Church building helps me ensure the content is perfectly appropriate. And the youth certainly find all the problems with it before I finish them up.
MH: So what does someone get when the get a murder mystery?
CC: You can actually buy murder mystery boxes, like a board game. The trouble is they cost $50 like a board game, and once you know the answer they’re useless. I’ve fixed that problem by selling a print-and-play game. You print if off, and then follow the directions passing out the evidence throughout the night.
There are three rounds, and most of the time people play them around a three-course dinner.
MH: Are there other people producing games like this?
CC: Not really. Like I said you’ve got the high-end box sets. The print-and-play options you can find right now are really low quality. The mysteries make no sense. You have to print multiple files. I think we’re filling an important niche where people want an enjoyable evening with the game, but by selling online we’re able to reduce costs and sell it to you at a price that makes sense.
MH: What was the impetus to start selling your murder mystery games?
CC: My wife and I are expecting our second baby, and we’re trying to raise money to cover the expected medical costs. And Etsy, who’s hosting the store, made selling them very simple.
MH: I know you’re just starting, but what’s next?
CC: We’re working to get a pirate themed mystery ready for Halloween parties. But in the long-term I’d like to move it onto an app, remove paper entirely and make it even easier for people to get together and enjoy murder mysteries.
MH: Thank you for the time, and good luck.
CC: Thank you!