Well it’s time for the Chinese New Year Semester break, which means all who work in China get time off to go home, see their families and take it easy.
This week I finished off the last of my classes and for my oldest class we had our end of semester show on the second last day, rather than the last. This meant the final day would just be for games and revelry.
Games are never straight forward with these kids as they are hyper intelligent and bilingual kids who study 7 days a week.
There’s a lot going on in their minds and I was pretty curious where their minds would go in a popular murder drama game I like to play.
In this game the kids all sit in a large circle and a policeman is chosen. (No matter what gender the policeman is, the kids always say policeman when saying it in English).
Once a policeman is chosen he or she is sent outside and through questions and testing I choose a murderer. (Being the murderer is highly contested so I make them win the opportunity).
The policeman is then invited back into the room to stand in the center of the circle and try to guess the murderer.
The murderer will murder kids around the circle by winking at them. Once a kid is winked at they must die, using observation the policeman has three guesses to try to figure out who’s committing all the crimes.
Normally the game might go for 20 minutes at the most, however this week I didn’t cap the length and it went very extreme, very quickly.
I will tell the story in the present tense and allow you to see it unravel exactly as I witnessed it. We have 9 kids in play, Jan, Will, Henry, George, Jerry, Sarah, Alice, Mary and Lucy.
Optimism was high as the kids sit in the circle eagerly awaiting the policeman’s guesses.
The kids giggled nervously and occasionally shout fake outs like “kill me!” And “she’s the killer!”
Mary is an easily distracted policeman and finds herself regularly chatting with friends and missing murders as they happen.
Jan doesn’t participate in the Tom-foolery, she sits quietly so as to succeed with her kills and go unnoticed. Mary can’t see any connection between the murders and makes her guesses slowly and at random. Murders begin happening further and further apart making the round seem never ending. Eventually the third guess is made and Jan isn’t chosen. Jan wins.
Jan is now the policeman.
This round a time cap is introduced. The policeman has only 90 seconds to make her guesses or the killer will go free.
Jan is the policeman this time and is sent from the room so a killer can be chosen. Henry is chosen to be the killer and immediately after being chosen Will and George sit next to him and recruit him to join them in an alliance.
The rest of the class haven’t noticed what Will, Henry and George are doing and seem oblivious to the deceptive hints that they give to Jan to throw her off the trail.
Jan tries to make observations and catch murders as they develop, but Will, Henry and George are using false signals and lies to throw her off the trail. She muddles the signals and trusts the wrong information. 90 seconds begin to slowly run out and and Jan makes three incorrect guesses. Henry wins.
Henry becomes the policeman.
In the minute or so before the next round the kids begin to chat with each other, but this time the volume is noticeably different from the last time there was a gap between rounds. Instead of the blaring noise that’s usually piercing my ears as the kids joke and fight, its a calm and dark whispering.
Jan joins Will, Henry and George and the four of them recruit Lucy and increase their influence.
Through math, trivia and language questions George is chosen as the killer this round. Immediately the new found alliance begins plotting together, but unlike last time they aren’t subtle enough and Jerry, Sarah and Alice begin to notice.
A new rule is introduced, if you are caught communicating with the policeman you die. If you’re the killer and you communicate with the policeman, you lose.
With the new limitations in place the influence of the alliance is limited until they can work out a new strategy.
When the policeman enters there is momentary silence as everyone begins to silently plot the game.
Henry is the policeman and he is looking for George, the killer. Lucy tries to tell Henry who the murderer is and communicate that the killer is part of the alliance, but she is unable to get the message across before I notice and kill her for breaking the rules.
The other members of the alliance react to Lucy’s outburst and chastise her, much to the suspicion of Jerry, Sarah and Alice.
Their suspicions are confirmed when members of the alliance begin slowly nodding or shaking their head whenever Henry is almost about to select a killer. Using slow nods and shakes they communicate the murderer and sacrifice George for Henry’s benefit. Henry guesses correctly with only one guess, Henry wins.
George becomes the disgruntled policeman.
This time the chatting gets explosive as Jerry, Sarah and Alice call out the alliance for what they see as cheating, the alliance deny’s all claims and once again through tricky questions a killer is chosen, this time it’s Jerry.
Sarah and Alice realize immediately that the alliance will communicate with George that the killer is Jerry to keep the wins within the alliance, so they agree to work together.
The round begins and as predicted the alliance very slowly indicate to George with their eyes that the killer is on the side of the circle where Jerry is sitting.
Unknown to the alliance however is that Sarah and Alice have been watching how they communicate and began to emulate this communication method to George.
George is obviously very confused and feels like he possibly missed a recruitment drive while he was out of the room when a killer was being chosen. He turns around in panic and communicates a little conspicuously to Jan that he is feeling confused. Jan gestures back by shaking her head but this was too much communication, Jan is killed.
Plagued by indecision George guesses wrongly 3 times and is unsuccessful, Jerry wins.
Jerry becomes the policeman.
Jan is enraged with how the last round went and consults with the alliance. Jan instructs them to use a very subtle neck scratch in future to identify themselves as part of the alliance, and that if it is discovered she will instruct them further in what the signal will change to.
George is very feeling very disgruntled with the entire group, he remains silent through the deliberations.
When it comes time to challenge the kids with questions and find a killer, Jan is chosen.
Jerry enters as the policeman and the round begins. Jan, Will, Henry and Alice remain completely still and exhibit perfect poker faces, only breaking occasionally to snicker and silently mock Jerry’s stern face as he scans the crowd looking for clues.
He looks around as kids begin dying and can’t find anything unusual to look out for, he is painfully aware that the clock is ticking down but can’t find a basis on which to make a guess.
He guesses once and is wrong, he makes another attempt and is wrong a second time.
He looks pleadingly at Sarah and Alice but they died early on and are lying on the ground with their eyes closed.
Suddenly George dies a little more dramatically then he had in previous rounds and attracts Jerry’s attention.
Jerry watches him dramatically gurgle and lay stretched out on the ground with his dance trained foot pointing out towards Jan.
Only one of his feet are pointed, and it’s direction is squarely and obviously at Jan.
Jan has noticed what he’s doing but is powerless to act, Jerry has also noticed and swiftly turns around and successfully guesses Jan as the murderer.
A dark look falls across Jan’s face. She knows what she’s got to do.