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Final Presentation: Mafia

vgaffney's picture

 My group decided to play the game mafia primarily because it is a fun and engaging way to get the class involved. Mafia is always a popular game which I find really interesting, particularly within the context of GIST’s section on information and noise, which was the section we drew from in our reasons for playing the game and our subsequent analyses of the process. The most interesting thing I noticed with my group was the specific reasons players gave when accusing people of being the mafia. As usual when playing this game, people made it silly and almost nonsensical by basing their accusations on arbitrary triggers, such as: “they’re quiet” or “they just have that look”. Every time I play this game I am always surprised by the reasoning people give when trying to figure out who the mafia is. I’m always struck by the disregarding of actual noise—the noise produced by the mafia as they peak their heads up and gesture to one another as they choose who to kill. I wonder why it is that the players disregard this auditory stimuli—perhaps the most indicative and sure sign of the actual location of the mafia—and instead resort to interpretations of random stimuli. This consistent style of interpretation always makes me think that perhaps players don’t want to find out who the mafia is too soon so they willingly, or unconsciously, ignore the auditory stimuli and resort to less effective and scientific modes of interpretation. Perhaps the participants want to be left in the dark, because the series of accusations and unfounded suspicions—as unscientific as they may be—are what make the game so fun.

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