Way back in days of yore, my college roommates and I — along with a group of boys — played a game that we called Murder in the Dark. It was extremely popular and we played it every chance we got. Well, we played on weekends and not when we should have been studying!
This game would be great fun to play with older grandchildren on New Year’s Eve — or any other time that grandchildren have gathered together at your house during the evening hours. The older the grandchildren, the sneakier they are — and the more challenging the game. Here’s how you play it.
Get a small source of light — a small candle, a small flashlight. The idea is the less light the better for playing. Also get a deck of playing cards. You’ll need one less card than the number of players. (So, if there are 8 of you, use only 7 cards.) Select one card to be the ‘murderer’ card.
Everybody sits on the floor in a circle around the candle. Select one person to be ‘It. ‘It’ leaves the room. Shuffle and pass out the cards to the players sitting in the circle. Everybody looks at their card without letting anybody else see their card. The person who gets the ‘murderer’ card is the murderer for that round.
The person who is ‘It’ comes in and sits in the middle of the circle (being careful not to knock over the candle if you are using a candle). The players in the circle hold hands. When the ‘murderer’ is ready, s/he discreetly squeezes several times one of the hands s/he is holding. The person who received the squeezes ‘passes’ on the number of squeezes s/he received minus one squeeze to the person holding his/her other hand. For example, if the player received 5 squeezes, the player ‘passes’ along 4 squeezes.
The player who receives only one squeeze is ‘killed.’ That player announces that s/he is dead and leaves the circle of play. The ‘murderer’ continues sending out squeezes ‘murdering’ other players. The person who is ‘It’ tries to see the players squeeze hands and then guess who the ‘murderer’ is. If It guesses correctly, that round ends and the murderer is now ‘It.’
For the next round of play, the new ‘It’ leaves the room, and the cards are shuffled and passed out. A different person becomes the ‘murderer,’ ‘It’ comes back in the room and the play starts again with the new ‘murderer’ trying to ‘kill’ other players.
Mmmm . . . as I just finished proofreading what I wrote, my mind flashed to the shooting of the elementary school children in Connecticut. My heart goes out to those families at this achingly difficult time for them.
I want to be sensitive and respectful to those families. So, if you feel that this game is inappropriate because there is a ‘murderer,’ I suggest that you switch and call this activity ‘squeeze tag.’ Instead of having a ‘murderer,’ the person is ‘the squeezer.’ The game would still be challenging but hopefully not offensive.