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NEW GAME! We've just brought out a fantastic new diner dance-off 1950s murder mystery game, Murder on the Dancefloor, at just 25 pounds / 39.99 USD for a game for 14–20 guests!

Murder mystery games for kids

This page is to give you some guidance on how your kids can enjoy our murder mystery party games; and alternative parties for younger kids. This first section is about choosing a suitable game, then further down there's some guidance on running a murder mystery game for a kids' party.

Way out West – We had an adult for Kate and 18-year-old for Christy, and the rest were 11 and 12. They did great and were even trying to settle the land dispute the next day at school! Stephanie McLaughlin, Texas

Way out West for kids

Games for younger kids

If you're looking for a game for younger kids, of about 8 and up, we have some of those too – not murder mysteries, but themed party games. We have three of them available at the moment.

Monster Mash An exciting monster-themed party game for 6–24 kids aged around 8 and upwards
Pirate Island A piratical party treat for 6–24 kids aged around 8 and upwards

Trick or Treat

A special Halloween-themed version of Monster Mash

Murder mystery games for older kids

Kids, children, teens, young adults… Whatever you call them, most kids have a great time playing our murder mystery games. However, while we know that all kids are different, you should be aware that there may be topics in any murder mystery game that you find unsuitable for your kids. And while you know your kids better than we do, we wouldn't generally recommend that children younger than 12 play our murder mystery games.

Dazzled to Death - Thank you so much for supplying my birthday with a bit of dazzle! As a 12 year old, all of my friends, enjoyed it so much! (I think it's the best party they've ever been to!) I enjoyed playing the part as waitress, as I was very resourceful for all my friends in need, thanks to your simple information!

Games written specially for kids of 12+

These games were either specifically written to be suitable for children, or else are childrens' adapted versions of our ordinary games.

12 A Dead Man's Chest
12 A Heroic Death (kids' version)
12 Arabian Nights
12

Halloween Lies / Halloween Lies Expanded (kids' versions)

(Note - Hollywood Lies and Halloween Lies both have characters who are "secretly seeing" each other – if you don't think this is suitable for your party, please choose another game)
12 Hollywood Lies /Hollywood Lies Expanded ( kids' versions)
12 Spellbound
12 Way out West / Way out West Expanded (kids' versions)
12 Who Shot the Sheriff?

Last year we played Way Out West for my daughter's 12th birthday. It was such a success that this year we played Hollywood Lies for her 13th birthday. Thank you for adapting the games down for the younger kids. Everyone I ran into for the next few days said their son/daughter had a wonderful time at the party. The kids even wore their name tags to school the next day. I can't say enough nice things about your games. I only hope that you adapt another one by next year. Actually I need you to adapt two. My son wants to have a Freeform Mystery party for his birthday too. Jill Getchell, California

My daughter's Hollywood Lies party was a HUGE hit with her friends. They came in their "dazzle wear"; we even had the "red carpet" leading up to our door for the guests. It was fun for them. The concept of the game is great for this age group – they had to mingle and talk to one another. No wallflowers were allowed! Pat Baker-Simon, USA

Games which we think are suitable for kids aged 15+

These games weren't written specifically for kids, but we believe they should be fine for the mid-teen age group to play. We've icluded a note of what might be considered sensitive material.

15 A Heroic Death (normal version) References to alcohol
15 All at Sea Minor references to infidelity
15 Bludgeoned on Broadway References to infidelity, some political issues
15 Dazzled to Death Refers to a child born out of wedlock, although this is handled delicately
15 Davy Jones’ Locker Plot about elopement, reference to voodoo and gypsy magic
15 Death in the Fast Lane Includes love affairs and gambling (and murder, of course!) but the overall tone is more gritty than "adult"
15 Death on the Gambia Potentially quite violent (simulated, not real violence!) and calls for a good deal of duplicity
15 Halloween Lies /
Halloween Lies Expanded (normal versions)
Includes a reference to past nudity, and love affairs / infidelity
15 Hollywood Lies / Hollywood Lies Expanded (normal versions) Includes a reference to past nudity, and love affairs / infidelity
15 The Karma Club References to rock-and-roll lifestyle, infidelity and a child born out of wedlock
15 Lei'd to Rest
and Lei'd to Rest Expanded
One character is the mistress of another
15 Lord and Lady Westing's Will References to flirtation and a playboy lifestyle
15 Murder on the Dancefloor Includes teen romance, gang fights, and a pregnancy
15 The Night before Christmas Refers to a child born out of wedlock, although this is handled delicately
15 The Spy Who Killed Me Two of the characters are rival suitors for the hand of another
15 Under the Big Top Several characters are romantically involved with, or interested in, each other
15 Way out West /
Way out West Expanded (normal versions)
One character is an alcoholic and saloon madame

One thing that some of the kids said last year (they were 16-year-olds) is how much they enjoyed having a party where there was something fun to do, as opposed to standing around not knowing what to do! It really is a perfect activity for teens who want to have fun and be together but have something planned so they don't feel awkward. Betsy Abernathy, USA

Death on the Gambia - My wife and I were co-captains for 10 girls for our daughter's 15th birthday party. They had a ball. Thank you. Jeffrey Tennant, Alabama, USA

We've played your games with great success. We use them for our teenage kids' birthdays, and they and their friends really enjoy dressing up and playing. We have to end up cutting the party short – they are usually still locked in secret conversations, plotting to kill someone, stealing each other's money, and a variety of other tomfoolery. Richey Rivers, Texas, USA

We played Happy Birthday R.J. for our daughter's 16th birthday. She invited 14 of her closest friends and they had a blast. Many of the girls played male characters but that just made it interesting and they had fun hamming it up. None of the girls had been to a murder mystery party before so it took them a minute to get going but when they did anything went. It was a night that they all will remember and we hope to have another this summer just for the fun of it. Thank you so much. Mae, USA

Games written for adults

Although we recommend looking first at the games above for kids' parties, plenty of people have run our other games for their kids anyway, sometimes with a bit of adaptation!

In the table below we tell you what material in each game you might think unsuitable for your kids, so you can make your own judgement.

18 A Will to Murder Extra-marital affairs
18 Casino Fatale /
Casino Fatale Expanded
Gambling and the playboy lifestyle
18 Court in the Act Extra-marital affairs, and an illegitimate child, in the characters' background
18 Curse of the Pharaoh / Curse of the Pharaoh Expanded The occult, an extra-marital affair, and an illegitimate child in the characters' background
18 Happy Birthday R.J. Includes references to infidelity and homosexuality
18 Snow Business Includes references to infidelity

Mixing adults and kids

Most of our games can happily accommodate a mix of adults and youngsters with no need to change anything, as long as you're careful about which characters you assign to whom. We want to make sure that everyone involved can have fun, and no-one need be worried!

I just hosted Hollywood Lies for a group of teen homeschoolers this weekend. I have to say that they had a blast! Their "movies" were a hoot! This is the 3rd year in a row that we have used your games as sort of an ice breaker for the kids to get to know one another. As usual, it was a great success. Thanks again! Janice, NC, USA

Death on the Gambia - a Freeform Games murder mystery game

Here's some great advice on mixing adults and younger kids in the same game:

I had 2 grandsons who played Spellbound with us, one 13 and one 9 years old. The 9-year-old played Jason Bennett, and he did a pretty good job from what I could tell. He started out playing with my husband.  They went over the part together at the begining of the game and then my grandson just took off and didn't seem to need any more help, while husband sat and watched!
We have generally tried to incoroporate the younger grandkids by letting them play the character with a parent alongside, so they play together. They usually come dressed somewhat alike in costumes. Some kids are more interested than others. Some pairs play the whole thing together and consult with each other; some follow their parent around, and some parents follow their kid. The younger ones usually start the game and then drift off to play with other cousins and toys in the room: in that case, the parent takes over. Doing it this way seems to work for both parent and child. The game doesn't suffer, as there is at least the parent to play if the child needs help or drops out. Cindy Haacke, Utah, USA

Notes

You might also like to take a look at Kids Party Cabin, an excellent site for all aspects of organizing a fun party for everyone!

And for a game for younger kids, you should try our friends at Kids' Mystery Parties, who have a good range of fun mystery games designed for ages 5–12.

If you've run one of our games for your kids, we'd love to hear about it! You can tell us via this form.

We used Way out West, the kids' version, for my daughter's 13th birthday party. It was a grand success. The boys and girls all got into their parts, came dressed up and really enjoyed themselves. Some of the kids worked really hard on their goals, and others just spent the whole time in "shoot outs" and recovering from being unconscious! Having something to do and a role to play made it easy for lots of interactions - which is important for the socially awkward age of 13. I just wish you had more games adapted for the kids! As a parent giving the party, it was nice to not have to worry about sending home the kids with age-inappropriate story lines (although we will be giving another murder mystery party for our adult friends and we look forward to an evening of mayhem and murder!) Leslie Blackie, California

Running and hosting murder mystery games for kids

Kids approach and play these games in a different way to adults, and it's worth considering this when you're hosting games for them. Some of the things we take for granted when running games for adults no longer apply. Here are some guidelines that we've found valuable when hosting games for kids ourselves, which you might like to consider. You know your kids better than we do, of course, and some of this may not be necessary for them – and some will be more true of 12-year-olds than it is of 15-year-olds, for example.

  • Some of the players may not have read any of the introductory materials that you sent out to them with their invitations. You should allow plenty of time at the beginning of the game for them to get familiar with the background, rules etc.
  • You should also be aware that they may be reluctant to put their hands up and ask questions if there are bits that they don't understand. Be prepared to answer queries individually – you may need to take each of them in turn to one side and ask if there's anything they don't understand.
  • Kids tend to play through these games more quickly than adults do, and also they may get bored quicker. You probably want a total time from start to finish of no longer than 3 hours. More time will be needed for the introduction, but this can be made up for by shortening the other sessions of the game. You should probably aim for not much more than 2 hours of actual play.
  • A round-robin "everyone describe what they were up to" debrief may not be appropriate, if the kids are shy of standing up and speaking in front of a group. You may find it better for you as Host to talk through the important (and the fun) points of the game and let them tell their stories to their friends in small groups.
  • A mix of ages may not work all that well. 12-year-olds typically play the game quite differently from 15-year-olds. And some of this older group can be very self-conscious about "getting into the game" if they're playing alongside people from outside their close friends group.
  • You have to be quite careful with casting – in particular, don't leave it to your kids to do the casting themselves without you checking it over! "Showy" characters, the main villains and so on, should only be given to kids who are self-confident enough to play up to the part. And characters who are supposed to be friends in the game are best cast with kids who are friends in real life.
  • Romance is another area to be careful with. In our kids' games any romance between characters is of an innocent nature, but even so kids may be uneasy about playing "being in love" unless with their close friends and familiars.
  • We had two adults assisting for A Dead Man's Chest, and we would each take the kids off to a private room and suggest things their characters could do, so that they were never stuck. (Juju Vail, London)

Love you guys.  Love your games. I always had them for my teenaged daughter and her friends and they were a big hit. I was often impressed with how far young minds took their characters. Susan Bull, California

Notes

If you've run one of our games for your kids, we'd love to hear about it! You can tell us via this form.