Founder of Deadly Distractions Crafts Custom Party Games and Much More
Writer / Molly Dykstra
Photographer / Kory Easterday
While Arec Ligon, founder of Deadly Distractions LLC, is fond of the saying, “I didn’t do it,” this might be misleading. He did, in fact, do it – in the midst of a pandemic, he started a successful company that creates games that are 25% murder mystery, 25% role play, 25% party, 25% theater, and 100% fun.
Recently he branched out into mystery theater as well, with nine performances of his one-man show, “The God of Mischief’s Murder Mystery,” scheduled for October 15 through 31.
In this show he plays Loki and five other characters, as they go on trial for murder most foul. The audience gets to ask questions and interact with the characters, ultimately deciding who is guilty and how the performance will end. Therefore, every performance will be a unique experience leading to an unpredictable outcome. These shows will run at Roots’ School of Theatre, Storefront Theatre of Indianapolis, and Doughnuts & Dragons.
Ligon started Deadly Distractions LLC in 2020, but he has been writing mystery games since 2018. He became interested in this genre when he ordered a game for his mother-in-law’s 60th birthday party. After reading the materials, he realized it would not be as fun for his group to play as he had hoped. Instead of giving up, he restructured and rewrote portions of it. This work resulted in a wonderful experience for everyone. From that moment, he was hooked.
As he continued to explore his passion, he found a partner in crime, Mitch Walker. While Walker helps him with web development and marketing from his home in Denver, Colorado, he also serves as Ligon’s most trusted game tester.
“He knows a good story when he sees it, and when something is not working, he’s one of the first people to tell me,” Ligon says.
It takes time to create a strong mystery game. Each one averages 40 to 60 hours to write. Once this is done, however, Ligon’s work has just begun, because he sells a full experience. For an additional fee, the game can be customized by adding costumes, additional actors, or even a restructure to fit a particular theme. When everything is ready, the game is afoot.
Events typically run for an hour and a half to three hours, and can occur virtually or in person. Although the mysteries involve six to 14 characters, an audience of non-characters can also be present to observe the fun. Ligon himself always attends, often playing a host character who helps to keep the story moving. His participation ensures that everyone has fun.
“Reading the room is one of my more valuable skills,” he explains. “We don’t leave anyone unhappy.”
Ligon says role playing in general offers an “element of escapism that people latch onto. Most people enjoy playing characters different from themselves, especially the more insidious ones. We have an acceptable environment to explore that personality. Someone who is quiet is suddenly in the spotlight. Someone normally in the spotlight is plotting in the background.”
Deadly Distractions also offers the Murder Mystery Scratch Kitchen. This writing workshop takes a group through the creation of a mystery. They build worlds and imagine characters, weaving in plots, puzzles and themes. Ligon says this process “unlocks that imaginative side that most people don’t get to hang out in every day, like I do. It is fantastic.”
Ligon has many more projects in the works. Designing a game with a larger cast, up to 50, is one possibility. This project would have many sub-groups with their own agendas, who also work together as a whole to solve murders and crimes. Although he is very excited to take on this intricate and time-consuming challenge, he says “designing something like that is kind of a pipe dream right now.”
Ligon says it is difficult to find the time to launch new projects, since he serves as creator, writer, producer, director and performer.
“I need another me,” he says. “I am always looking for another partner to bring in who is passionate about making games, and passionate about puzzles and groups. If they are stronger in graphic arts, that would also be amazing. If you are reading this and you happen to be a unicorn, please email me.”