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Markets in Everything: “Mafia” Clubs

By Chris | December 7, 2007

The game that involves 10 to 20 players role-playing townspeople and members of the mafia is phenomenally popular in China. The game is based on deceit and deception. A few players are secretly designated as the mafia and attempt to kill off the other players (townspeople) before they themselves are discovered and executed. If you’re not familiar with the game check out this explanation on Wikipedia. The game is a lot of fun, I learned how to play at a debate tournament in high school. It is a well known social game in America, but it has not been commercialized. That’s not the case in China:

Xclub, in the Haidian District of Beijing, was one of the first “Mafia” clubs in China. The Beijing-based club has registered more than 50,000 members all over the country since opening for business in March [of 2006]. Yuan said members are from a wide range of circles, including public relations workers, media people, IT engineers and students.

And these clubs are big:

The PK Game Club was one of the first and biggest clubs for Mafia in Beijing…The club, which has seven rooms capable of holding 12 to 16 people each, exists solely to provide a venue for the 2,000-plus members to play the game from 5 p.m–8 a.m. Music gets piped into the rooms to signal when the rounds change, and referees make sure things proceed in an organized fashion. The club also offers training for prospective players who aren’t yet up to international assassin levels.

Mafia clubs exist in many other parts of China as well. One club charges 10 yuan (US$1.2) per hour, per player. It appears as though the popularity of Mafia may have peaked in 2006, but it’s still thriving.

Hat Tip: My friend Xiaobao who informed me that Mafia is played professionally in China. Special thanks to loyal reader, Laura, for hosting a much anticipated Mafia night.

Topics: Economics, Markets | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Markets in Everything: “Mafia” Clubs”

  1. laura Says:
    December 7th, 2007 at 9:40 am

    The game is not only about deception, but also observation, expression, logical thinking, and judgement ability. That is why many IT engineers and the white colars are big fans of Mafia in China, mental exercise in a fictitious world is, with no doubt, a good choice to jump out of the tedious work in office.
    Looking forward to your performance tonight.

  2. Andrew Says:
    December 7th, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    I hope you performed well enough to hold on to your friends! A lot at stake…….

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