Each summer, District 3 (D3) of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), comprised of AAF clubs in Asheville, NC, Charlotte, NC, Greensboro, NC, Raleigh, NC, Charleston, SC, Greenville, SC, Midlands, SC, Hampton Roads, VA and Roanoke, VA, holds a leadership conference to engage and prepare incoming board members for the new club year. These annual leadership conferences typically draw between 75 to 100 attendees, and AAF Charlotte had the pleasure of hosting this year’s conference in early August.
The first night of each conference features a large-scale, icebreaker game that allows attendees to mingle with other clubs. The responsibility of planning and executing this game falls on the conference’s hosting club, which in turn was my responsibility as an AAF Charlotte board member. I quickly recruited talented copywriter Katie Fisher of Balfour Beatty and Union (formerly Studiobanks)' newest designer Joe Bauldoff to help out.
D3 asked us to create a game that incorporated the conference theme, “Social Uprising” in which attendees learned to integrate social media tools into all aspects of club management. During initial planning, we were a little stumped by incorporating social media tools, which are primarily used on an individual basis, into a game that needed to be interactive for a live, in-person group of people. Ultimately we decided on a concept that was a mix between the style of the scripted “dinner and a murder” mystery game and the classic board game, Clue. The twist was that our game would utilize Twitter to support the social media theme of the conference. The Setting The conference opened on August 6th with a dinner meeting and presentation by social media guru Crystal Dempsey. Following dinner, I was introduced and explained the rules of the game, then divided the attendees into six groups ensuring each team had the same amount of members with smart phones or laptop computers. Access to Internet was required in order to win the game via Twitter. Once the groups were set, I made this jarring announcement:
Sad news everyone, the D3 Governor has been murdered! Forensics investigators say that while the deceased was found in her room, she was murdered elsewhere. They believe the murderer will return to the scene of the crime. Police are investigating the murder using their old-school analogue methods, but the AAF thinks they’re overlooking some key social media information. We’ve done some trolling on the Governor’s Facebook page and the Internet at large, and we’ve narrowed down the possible suspects to six people who are known to be in the hotel and have possible motives. We have included profiles of our six suspects in this case file.
Suspects We presented six suspects that could have committed the murder. Each suspect had a story and a possible murder motive that unfolded over the suspects' Twitter accounts as the game was played.
Rooms Teams had to venture into various rooms of the hotel to seek additional clue cards that had illustrations of an object, a clue description and any other important details.
Case Files Each team received a case file at the beginning of the game. Case files included a case overview and a profile for each of the six suspects. The profiles included an illustration and a list of known facts about the suspects.
Winning the Game The winning team had to correctly accuse one of the suspects of committing the murder, and also correctly identify the hotel room in which the murder took place and the weapon that was used.
In the end we met our goal to provide a fun, interactive icebreaker game that set the stage for the two day, social media themed conference. A huge thank you to everyone who participated in this fun event!