10:43:27 pm on
Tuesday 18 Jun 2019

Games and Serial Killers
AJ Robinson

Games have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. As a kid, in Arlington, Massachusetts and on Martha’s Vineyard, we played everything from classic card games to the latest board games, to role-playing games we created based on popular movies and television shows. All through school and into my young adult life, it was the same and Jo Ann and I have actively looked for new and different games to play.

► Intricate games.

Some games are quite intricate, especially those our daughter, Alexa, introduced. One board game took us an entire evening to play one round. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of this game; Alexa keeps promising to bring it around again, which brings me to our latest outing: Mother’s Day.

Alexa wanted to do something special for that day. As we’d already done the Escape Room game, she came up with yet another new experience. She ordered a murder mystery that came in the mail. Hunt a Killer arrived in a sealed box and when Alexa was able to come over for dinner, we opened it and started to play.

Hunt a Killer is intricate game. Players must solve riddles, find and connect clues; only then is the serial killer catchable, but maybe not even then. More than 800,000 episodes, of this game, have shipped, according to its website.

For step one, we had to read the case file that the sheriff had left for us; it was quite detailed. A man attended his high school reunion, saw some old friends and was then found dead in his car a little while later. The file included statements from all the suspects, a forensics report and a number of other items, including the victim’s high school yearbook.

Now, here’s the big difference between this game and others we played. We had to go online to the sheriff’s website, log in and input what we learned in order to get further clues. Ah, but that was not the final step in the game, not by a long shot.

► The website was just the start.

We had to gather up our paperwork, file it away and wait for the next package to arrive via snail mail. That’s right, this game is so convoluted and intricate that you don’t just open it, read the clues and solve the mystery, as if it were some glorified version of the board game Clue. No, you have to get reports, follow up suspect interviews, more clues and so forth.

This game is not something we’re just going to finish in a single evening; not by a long shot. We have to wait for more information to come in, study all of it, come to some conclusions and go back to the website to submit our reports. That will unlock additional data and then we can expect package number three to arrive in the mail soon after that. Yes, that’s right; we are looking at several more packages arriving before we are even close to solving this mystery.

► What’s in store, game wise?

It is most definitely not like an episode of Scooby-Doo, where we can expect to catch the criminal by the end of a half hour episode. Once again, our daughter has come up with something completely original as a means of celebrating a special event in our lives. That was Mother’s Day. I have to wonder, what will she spring on me for Father’s Day?

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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