UMSL’s Virtual Detective Experience
by Jordan Francis
This past Friday (Oct. 30th), the College Program Board hosted a virtual murder mystery night. A “virtual murder mystery” had not been previously introduced into my vocabulary before this event. I was eager to see how this would play out online.
The game was brought to us from thevirtualdetective.games. The Virtual Detective is a site that promises a premium online interactive mystery experience. The site has the same creators as The Diner Detective live dinner theater shows, they often host shows at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac. The Virtual Detective offers a few different online experiences from a murder mystery to virtual scavenger hunts.
The game hosted with the UMSL College Program Board was the virtual murder mystery, the CyberSleuth. It began with 12 actors on a prerecorded skit set up much like our familiar zoom conferences, complete with a chat pod on the right side of the screen. After the prerecorded skit played (corny aliases and fake accents abound!) and the first victim was stuck, the video faded away and a large QR code filled the screen. We were instructed to take our smartphones or tablets to scan the code and read the clues that pertained to the case. After five minutes to review the clues, the next prerecorded skit played. There are three skits total that play and three QR codes that follow them. In the end, you are given roughly six or seven minutes to fill out the form with your suspect and you are asked to cite the evidence that leads you to the conclusion. After the timed break, they unravel the mystery and catch the culprit. The winner with the correct answer and the most detailed response wins a free t-shirt. The entire event was roughly 45 minutes to an hour.
As for the mystery, I will not spoil it. The cite boasts that the murder mystery is loosely based on a real FBI cold case but does not make mention as to which case and all the assumed names are changed—unless there truly is an FBI agent named “Rookie Wookie” that solves crimes via Zoom. I did not realize going into this event that it was based on dinner theater; that being said, I was disappointed at the cheesiness of the mystery and actors. I think I was expecting a little more meat to chew. It was the level of a game that I would bring a younger sibling to, perhaps, but I would not sign up for another one on my own. To each their own, of course.
What is phenomenal, is that the UMSL College Program Board is still able to bring virtual events to the screens of every student in a safely distanced way. It highlights the care and desire that the University has for every student to be engaged with their peers. Pandemic aside, UMSL still strives to give all their students fun and excitement amid the turmoil of midterms and exams—not to mention the current social and political stressful environments.
If you are interested in booking an event, you can go to thevirtualdetective.game and request more information.