Classroom Game: Mafia
|Mafia is a fun game that can be used to start a discussion on group decision making, communication and influence.
More information on Mafia can be found here: Wikipedia
When to Use
Use this game when your learning objective is any of the following:
- Appreciate the importance of the Visual, Vocal and Verbal channels of communication and how they impact people’s perceptions about you
- Understand the role of Influence in group decision making.
- Understand the role that assumptions play in building perceptions.
- Identify the the pitfalls to avoid in a group decision making process.
- Understand how decision making happens in the absence of information.
Maximum: 30 (though it can be done in larger groups)
20 to 30 minutes
- No supplies needed
- Ask participants to sit in a circle with one arms distance between each participant.
- Explain that complete honesty is the only way participants can enjoy this game.
- Ask participants to name the fictitious village in which the game is played out.
- Explains that some of the villagers are members of a mafia set out to kill villagers. Who the mafia members are and how many mafia members are there is unknown. The objective of the villagers is to find and kill the mafia members and the objective of the mafia members is to not get identified and kill the villagers before they get killed.
- Discuss the rules of the game as provided below.
- Ask participants to close their eyes. The facilitator will then go around the room and gently tap on the shoulders of 3-4 people randomly. Participants who receive a pat on their shoulder will be members of the mafia.
Note: The number of mafia members selected is dependent on the total number of participants.
- Ask everyone to open their eyes and check if there are any questions regarding the rules of the game.
- Begin play by calling Night.
- Explain that the game will be played in sequence of night and day. When the facilitator announces night everyone except the mafia members will close their eyes. The mafia members will then discreetly identify one villager to kill. The facilitator will then call day and everyone is supposed to open their eyes.
- During the day, the villager identified by the mafia will be asked to step out of the play area and go to the ghosts enclosure. Ghosts can observe the game, but, cannot talk.
- Following this, the villagers (including the unknown mafia members) will participate in a debate to identify who could be a mafia member. Whoever is identified (whether the person is a mafia member or not) will be asked to go to the ghost enclosure.
- The facilitator then calls night again and the play continues until all the members of the mafia have been eliminated, or until the mafia members outnumber the villagers.
Once the game is over, the facilitator can lead a discussion by asking the following reflective questions:
- Why did everyone chose Mr/Ms x as a mafia member though s/he wasn’t?
- Who’s voice got heard? Why?
- What role did body language play in this game?
- How did the mafia members influence other villagers?
- How did the villagers take decisions in absence of information? Were they right?
- What role does ‘Gut instinct’ play in decisions making under lack of information? Are ‘Gut instincts’ always right?
- What role did the Visual, Vocal and Verbal channels of communication play in this game?
- What tactics did mafia members use to hide/deflect attention? Does this also happen in the real world?
|Download the activity handout here.|