Recently, our class got together to play Mysterium, a cooperative social-deduction game where the players take on one of two different roles, with one player as the “Ghost” and the one to six other players as the Psychic Investigators. At its core, Mysterium is a game all about communication, as the Ghost attempts to inform the Investigators who the suspects of their murder are and which suspect killed them, without being able to speak. Instead, the Ghost must use the intricate artwork on the dream cards they draw to try and hint to the Investigators which specific suspect, location and weapon that they are trying to find. It is this particular aspect that, as the Ghost, I found the most difficult. There were many times where I felt as if the dreams I had drawn simply did not fit with any of the items I was trying to help the Investigators find, but I still needed to give them something. At other times though, I thought that I had found the perfect card to give to an Investigator, something that would point them directly to the object I wanted them to guess, but they would then notice all of the details in the picture that I had ignored. In both of these situations, the Investigators were ultimately led away from the suspect, location or weapon that I was trying to indicate.
The session as a whole was very much like this example, as while we did have some successes as a group, there were still many players by the end of the game who were unable to complete their set. I still personally attribute this loss to my general lack of experience with the game and my poor use of the dreams I was given, as there were many dreams that I handed out that simply led the Investigators more astray, or that failed to communicate what I intended. Of course, not all dreams led to failures, as some of the Investigators were able to complete their set within the given number of rounds. There was even one particular round where I found a dream that was perfect for a particular location, allowing that Investigator to guess their location with only one dream. However, for every large success, my session featured a similarly large failure, as one suspect took a very large number of dreams for their Investigator to find them.
However, while our session may have ended in a loss, I still feel that we could draw some interesting parallels between Mysterium and leadership as a result of it. While communication was easily the most difficult part of this game, I also feel that it is the part that this game shares the most in common with leadership, as having good communication with your team is very important for successful leaders. If a leader is unable to communicate exactly what their vision is with their teammates, there could be a large amount of confusion in what exactly the leader is asking their team to do, or what their goal even is. Similarly, if the Ghost in Mysterium is unable to use their dreams to effectively communicate with the Investigators, the Investigators will have no idea what the Ghost is actually trying to indicate to them, and will be forced to simply go off of their best guess of what the Ghost intended rather than the actual answer.
Overall, despite our session ending in failure, I did enjoy my time with Mysterium. Being forced to turn strange, abstract artwork into a clue with a very specific meaning is a very interesting and fun concept, and I imagine with practice I might be able to better communicate with my Investigators just what my dreams are supposed to indicate. I would also be interested in playing the game again, but as an Investigator instead, so I can see how I do at the game when I’m trying to interpret the dreams handed to me rather than handing out the dreams myself. Not only that, but the experience of playing Mysterium has also helped me to understand just how important it is to have strong communication as a leader.