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spreston's picture

For our end of the year presentation, our group decided to play Mafia, a game in which a "town" of people, including townspeople, mafia members, and an inspector, must vote on which townsperson committed the last murder (full rules belo We wanted to play this game to see how people gather their information.  Because their eyes are closed during the "murder," the townspeople must base their decision on information they gather through the town meetings - how can one separate lies from real information?  It was interesting to watch the class play this game because the first person to get killed was the inspector - the member who actually knew who a mafia member was!  The mafia members were able to convince the rest of the group that the inspector was very suspicious.  I thought this exercise showed the arbitrary nature of what we treat as "information," since what we take as fact is often based on heresay.  This game also got me wondering about the role of technology in creating information.  With computers and the internet at our fingertips, it is much easier to communicate to one another and to research any subject that sparks our curiosity - but how much of that information is true?  This game has got me wondering how reliable any information in this day and age can be!  Although the game as it played out in class was a little bit more hectic than we expected, I still think it was a valuable experience.


Basically, there are three roles you may take on: Townsperson, Mafia, or Inspector
Before we begin the game, we will pass out cards: whoever gets a King will be a member of the Mafia, whoever gets a Joker will be an Inspector, and the rest will be townspeople.
In our game, we will have 3 mafia and 1 inspector.

Then, night falls and everyone must close their eyes.  When directed, the 3 Mafia open their eyes and decide who to kill.  They must agree on who to kill by pointing until they all agree.
The then close their eyes.  The inspector is instructed to open his/her eyes and is allowed to point to one person who he/she thinks is a member of the Mafia.  The Moderator will nod or shake his/her head accordingly.

Day comes and everyone opens their eyes.  The Moderator announces who has been killed and then all of the live players must talk and decide who they think the Mafia is.  Once the group agrees by a majority vote, the player they vote is part of the Mafia is out of the game. 

The townspeople win if all the Mafia are cast out of the game.  The Mafia win if they succeed in killing all the other players.

If this is confusing, you can read more detailed instructions at



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