Candlelight spills forth from the table, illuminating the otherwise dark space of the room. A spread of hors d’oeuvres add a splash of colour to the room, but are not enough to defeat the darkness of the scene. Thirteen people sit around a long table in their best finery, and contemplate whom to kill. Nine innocent civilians, trying only to survive; four mafia hiding blood-stained souls under crisp collared shirts or cocktail dresses, true identities hidden from the rest but known to each other, subtly trying to direct the accusations away from their own; two minutes left to decide. Someone is accused, and speaks to defend herself. The others aren’t convinced. One minute left. They vote. They kill her.
She was an innocent.
Exclamations of regret and disappointment echo in the room, most genuine but some hiding inner satisfaction. The civilians have murdered one of their own this day, and all mafia live on to kill, hidden under the shadow of night.
I am one of them. Hidden under the cloak of guile and shielded by the veneer of rhetoric, the other mafia and I vote on whom to kill next.
For many people like me who attended summer camps, mafia is a familiar childhood game of deceit and group-think, in which the unknown few are pitted against the uninformed many. As I got older I stopped playing mafia, thinking it was a game for children, not adults.
I was wrong. Mafia, as the recent Mafia Night in my dorm at Quest taught me, is like a good wine; it gets better with age. As children, our strategies are simple, and games lack a critical spirit. However, when playing with a group of university students, the game becomes a heated debate about strategy, statistics, and sincerity. We argue about the optimal way of playing the game, whom to trust, and how we should make decisions as a group.
Mafia Night has been one of the most fun nights I have had at Quest, and I look forward to playing them more in the future. The intrigue, formal dress, and appetizers make for a fun evening.
And winning the game as a mafia member didn’t hurt.