Sunday, January 13, 2008
So, I'm addicted to playing online Mafia. There, I said it. It started as just a simple party game but now it's on Facebook and I. Can't. Stop. For those of you unaccustomed to the Mafia experience, a summary: Imagine Dungeons and Dragons. OK, stop laughing. Now imagine that instead of dwarves and wizards and such, the characters are townspeople, Mafia hitmen, and police officers. Basically the game goes like this: the computer randomly assigns roles to each of the 10-15 players. Roles are not public, except that the Mafia members know who each other are. The game is played in rounds of "day" and "night". During the "day", all players have to vote to execute one person, The Lottery-style. They base their decisions on who they think is a Mafia hitman. At "night" the Mafia members get to murder one innocent, and the police officer gets to investigate one person (i.e find out if they are Mafia or townspeople). So the game goes on -- to "play" is to write messages on a common board stating your theories and/or defending your innocence/pointing fingers at others -- until either the town kills all of the Mafia or the Mafia murders all of the town.
Trust me, it's addictive. For one, it's kind of a logic game, which I love -- if so-and-so is Mafia, then so-and-so who's been accusing them can't be, etc. Plus, you get to execute your friends based on very shaky evidence -- super fun, and not likely to ever happen in real life, assuming you never become a member of a militant terrorist group. Finally, it's just an excuse to play with your friends, like in kindergarten (e.g. "Okay, I'm the mommy and you're my baby", but instead "I'm a cop and you're a cold-blooded killer.") Plus, there are no teachers or moms to put a moratorium on bad language and threats! Fun!
Apart from the obvious implication of a long-dormant bloodlust, my obsession with this game is truly taking over my life. I log on at work multiple times a day to see what's happening, spend my evenings strategizing by phone with my Mafia cohorts and/or paranoid townies. I also start using in a disturbing gamespeak that, if overheard by a real cop, could get me in serious trouble ("So we'll kill Betsy tonight and then try to kill the cop tomorrow"). Jeff just shakes his head when I pace the kitchen, indulging in elaborate strategies with friends. He doesn't get it. But then again, I don't get D&D. That, I tell myself, is for nerds. Mafia, on the other hand, is for highly intelligent strategists. And, yes, I am going to keep telling myself that.