In this critical play I will be dissecting the game of “Raja Mantri Chor Sipahi”, a Indian game treated as a pastime by 6-12 year olds. This is a folk game that has been passed down by generations, and uses a card-based format and a point system.
“Raja Mantri Chor Sipahi” ( translated as “King Minister Thief Police”) is a social deduction game where the Minister has to guess the thief. It can be played with a group of 4. In this game, there is no collaboration and it is very much every player against the world. At the beginning of the game cards are distributed with character names on them. The person who is the police gets +500 points, and the person who is King automatically gets +1000 points, and then calls out to the minister to guess who the thief is. If the minister guesses correctly, the minister gets +800 and the thief gets +0. However if the minister guesses incorrectly – the points are reversed with the thief getting +800 and minister +0. Around 10 rounds are played and at the end of the game the points are tallied. The player with the highest tally wins.
This game is similar to Mafia in that the objective is to knock out the bad guy through guessing their identity. Similar to games like Secret Hitler, there are many different characters that players can be. There is an element of fantasy wherein players imagine themselves as part of a King’s Court.
The chance element creates an element of suspense that creates excitement amongst the players to see which card they will receive at the beginning of the game. The fact that every player has a distinct purpose ensures no matter which card they get they will not get bored. When the minister is trying to guess who the thief is, the thief will have to maintain a poker face which will add humor to the game. In the absence of many clues as to who the thief is, personal biases will start to get involved in the game which can create hilariously petty outcomes, for example when Akriti and Ila started placing blame on each other to get back at each other. Since the stakes of the minister guessing incorrectly are so high, all players will watch intently as the moves are made. Since points are collected and averaged across ten rounds, the later rounds have potential to flip the story and the tension reaches a peak towards the later rounds especially!
To improve the game, I would create a mobile app version in Unity with a greater focus on narrative and an immersive reality that incorporates sounds and visuals to present a compelling vision of a rich kingdom getting looted by a thief. I would set the game in the Mughal era of India. This Indian folk game is a fun pastime, but through leveraging latest technology to update it, it can be made even more compelling.