Fun and friendly, the “murder party” is more fun than a Cluedo game

For Marie Magnard, the organization of murder parties was first a hobby. Before making it her professional activity, with her partner Pauline Sontag, she had fun writing scenarios that she then proposed to those around her: “It took place in fancy dress parties, with fun as the sole objective. As it pleased me, I repeated the experience several times. With Pauline, we said to ourselves that there was undoubtedly something to explore. ”

Together, the two Lyon friends founded Madame Renard, a company that offers to organize a murder party at your home or in the private place of your choice. To define this term, which has no official French translation, we can go through the Cluedo box and imagine a life-size transposition of the famous investigative game of which Colonel Moutarde is the most famous suspect (and Doctor Leblanc, the eternal victim). Usually the end result turns out to be more entertaining than the sad tv adaptation of the board game (with Marie-Ange Nardi and Christian Morin as masters of the game) and that the cine version yet written by John Landis.

On the program: an initial situation, a mess of revelations and a criminal case to be clarified. At Madame Renard’s, for around fifty euros per participant (ideally seven to fifteen people per session), the queens of crime, Marie Magnard and Pauline Sontag, arrive at the chosen place, set up props and clues and orchestrate a game of ‘investigation on a human scale, where it is above all a question of having a good time together.

“We organize murder parties both in the private setting and during business seminars, explains Marie Magnard. The goal is for everyone to feel good and want to participate. No one has to play a role or act: you can just be yourself and participate in the survey. Being quite introverted ourselves, we didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable about having to put on a show. ”

The bosses of Madame Renard assure it: even the refractory of the first moments end up getting caught up in the game. “US murder parties have always gone well. It happens that, in a professional setting, the mayonnaise takes a little less if the participating team does not stand out for its cohesion. But it really is the worst that can happen. And that doesn’t stop anyone from having a good time. ”

The ever more popular game

Even if a certain global pandemic has put obstacles in the wheels of women entrepreneurs, Marie Magnard and Pauline Sontag are satisfied with the activity of their company, launched in early 2019. “It had started really well, explains the latter. We had reached a very satisfactory cruising speed. Then there was the Covid-19. But we’ve picked up a good pace for some time. ” “More generally, the gaming and leisure industry is doing well, continues Marie Magnard. It is not only for escape games and the murder parties.»

As for the other companies which offer this kind of service, it would in fact be a little reductive to compare the offer of Madame Renard to a simple giant Cluedo. The company offers half a dozen tailor-made scenarios, which multiply atmospheres and navigate between eras. Among the decorations offered: a mountain chalet, a witchcraft school, a village ball organized in 1925 or a post-apocalyptic universe. Something to delight all styles of customers. And in the event that customers have an atypical idea in mind that does not appear in the catalog, Madame Renard can take charge of it and develop a new universe. Which obviously has a cost.

Like others all over France, Pauline Sontag and Marie Magnard had the good idea to modernize a concept created in the 1930s, and better known in English as murder mystery game. It is said that some large British hotels began to organize criminal games within their walls as early as this time, and that the novels of Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie helped precipitate the rise of this type of entertainment, but no evidence has visibly been preserved.

Multiple supports

On the other hand, there is no doubt that a collaborative game launched in 1937 under the name Jury Box has done a lot for the popularization of murder parties. This Parker game offers its followers to put themselves in the shoes of members of a criminal case jury, and to try to shed light on one of the six cases submitted to their sagacity. For comparison, the Cluedo was not imagined that in 1943 (and put on sale in 1949).

One of six cases in the Jury Box game. | BoardGameGeek via Wikimedia Commons

Since then, various concepts have emerged, which still have not been successful. Turnkey surveys (such as the series of Investigation evening, developed in France until 2007) and even a video game allowing you to create your own murder party have seen the day. In certain groups of friends very fond of the game, we preferred to imagine their own intrigues and their own rules, in the manner of what Marie Magnard imagined for those close to her before launching Madame Renard.

This is the case of Nelson, 43, who has seen the birth within his friendly circle of a undoubtedly unique tradition: the murder party of New Year’s Eve. “It’s been almost twenty years that I spend the New Year with the same people, two or three years. On December 31, 2002, a friend showed up with a “police game” he had tried to invent. We tested it by drinking a few drinks. We laughed a lot. It was perfectible, but pretty well done: everyone had a character file. The designer had stashed some clues in the house where we were staying for the occasion … It made us want to start over. “

The tradition was then set up: “Every year, someone volunteered to create their own murder party New Year’s Eve. There have been catastrophic editions – like what, it’s a job -, but even the biggest “plantades” have always given rise to sacred good times. It proves that to plan this kind of activity, you need professionals. I, for example, can make a good master of the game, but I’m a poor designer. “

On Madame Renard’s side, Marie Magnard confirms: imagine and orchestrate murder parties, it cannot be improvised. “Pauline and I have no training. We trained on the job, getting started little by little. In our old life, we were practicing law … On the other hand, we have always liked to read and write. It is capital. Discussions with other people working in this field have also helped us a lot to move forward … “

100% happy end

Madame Renard’s owners guarantee it: none of the sessions organized ended badly. No peak of violence, no crisis of anxiety. The atmosphere is always good-natured. We readily believe them. The seventh art, it is set to explore other avenues: after the films ofescape game, who are recently multiplied, it is very likely that the murder party becomes in turn an ideal playground for screenwriters wanting to inject real blood into playfulness.

The aptly named Murder Party, a French film in which Eddy Mitchell plays a board game pundit murdered in full exercise of his functions, will also be distributed in March 2022. He is the architect responsible for renovating the victim’s mansion, played by Alice Pol, who ends up looking for the person who was guilty of this crime. Miou-Miou, Pascale Arbillot and Gustave Kervern are also showing in this film, which is no doubt sold too much as a French version ofAt loggerheads, but whose cast is all the same damn envy.

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