As a kid, I never really played Clue. Our family was more into Monopoly (my mom dominates at this) and Trivial Pursuit than Clue. However, I completely fell in love with the game and the concept once I saw the hilarious live-action Clue movie from the 80s. It is brilliant in every way. Tim Curry AND Madeleine Kahn? Be still, my heart.
So, I had seen various life-size board games for teen programming zoom through my blog reader. One of the big ones was Candy Land, but I wasn’t sure if our fledgling teen group would go for that. Coincidentally, my library was participating in the NEA’s Big Read program, and our community book was Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. I knew I wanted to do a live-action game, and the mystery aspect of Clue aligned perfectly with Poe.
What’s so great about live-action Clue is that it is definitely programming on the cheap. All you need are paper, a printer, possibly some laminate or contact paper, and masking tape. Oh, and a die (I used a rhyme cube pattern for mine). And that’s it!
First of all, I had to make sure that my vague knowledge of Clue was a little sharper. When you’re looking for info about the game clue, pro tip #1 is that it’s also known as “Cluedo.” A-ha. I found the Hasbro game rules online and used them to guide my game play with the teens.
The next thing you need to do is translate the original Clue characters, weapons, and rooms into ones that fit whatever theme you’re doing. So, for example, in Edgar Allan Poe Live Clue I had The Mesmerist and Don Montresor who could have killed with the Poisonous Candle or the Axe in the Pit or the Wine Cellar. All of the suspects, weapons, and places had illustrations. I made a template, plugged each one in, and then glued it to a larger piece of construction paper to make a handy card. These are the ones I made for Doctor Who Live Clue:
You’ll also need a fairly large space in which to play the game. The first time I created the game board with masking tape, I went about it all wrong. Pro tip #2: do not make the rooms first and then try to fill in the game play spaces. This will make you want to sit down and cry. The easiest way to make the game board is:
- Make a large square with your masking tape.
- Make smaller rectangles in each corner to make four rooms.
- Add other rectangular rooms along the perimeter to match however many rooms you’re using.
- Make openings (doors) for the rooms by removing some of the masking tape.
- Grid the rest of the space around the rooms.
- Place secret passages in the corner rooms, denoted by an “x”.
Now, your teens have arrived. I have always had to do this in teams because I had too many teens to play as individual characters. When they entered, I gave them a name tag with their character name. They also each got a pencil and a detecting grid, which I made using Excel. All of the suspects, weapons, and places were on the sheet, and they could cross off the ones that they knew weren’t in the envelope.
I put three cards (one suspect, one weapon, and one room) in an envelope and placed it in the center of the game board.
Then, pick a suspect, have them roll the die, and start playing! The reason that each teen or team of teens is playing as a character is so that when a suggestion is made of a suspect, they have to physically move to the room that the player is naming. So, for example, if a player says, “I suspect that it was the Slitheen using the Pentaray on New New Earth,” whoever is playing as the Slitheen has to move to the square designating New New Earth.
Teens might be a little unsure of the gam eplay at first, but you’ll soon notice that they’re getting the hang of it and simultaneously having fun just squashing as many people as possible into one room.
Although the Poe one was a lot of fun, my favorite was the Doctor Who Live Clue. Teens came in costume and seriously debated the differences between their sonic screwdrivers. They talked about their favorite Doctors and quoted whole scenes from popular episodes. As one player galloped across the board to move to his new square, he flung his arms out and cried, “I have found my people!” It was the best. Afterwards, the teens stayed and talked about minicons and cosplay and exchanged information. So a relatively simple game turned into an awesome networking opportunity for local Whovians.
Live Clue can be whatever you want it to be, and that’s the beauty of this simple, no-frills program.