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Mock mafia game takes over city for a weekend
Senior Staff Writer
The tommy guns may have been replaced with water pistols and the knives with plastic spoons, but make no mistake, the mafia is as active and dangerous in Denton as it was in the ‘20s.
All around Denton from Feb. 7-11, more than 180 students and graduates participated in the community-based game known as “Denton Mafia.”
“We have six families competing for the city of Denton through challenges and by poking with plastic spoons or using water guns,” said Nate Woodall, a 2012 UNT alum and judge in this year’s game. He posts challenges online and how many points each one is worth.
Challenges and kills add points to a family’s total, based on a predetermined scoring system. The game has evolved drastically since its inception nine years ago by 2008 alum Cody Kitchens.
Kitchens said he would find five or six men with magnetic personalities and tell them to recruit 20-25 people. They build their own families and, as the family’s don, are always planning possible missions.
“We had heard a vague idea of this game years ago, and the college ministry we were involved in had a lot of guys who would be in for it, so we tried it,” Kitchens said. “We just ran around with water guns and shot each other. The next year we added points and it has just naturally evolved into this.”
Challenges include earning points by deciphering clues and finding golf balls or, for the truly devoted, traveling to different states to earn “witness protection kills.”
For the past two years, Denton Mafia has partnered with Vision Ministries, a local outreach program of Denton Bible Church. Every pair of jeans donated to Vision Ministries earns the family 20 points.
“I knew college kids were just crazy enough about a game that they would go and buy jeans,” said Michael Pirtle, the director of Vision Ministries. “It was amazing to see jeans that still had price tags on them.”
Balancing classes and the mafia is often the biggest challenge. There are safe zones at home and work, but players are not protected walking around campus.
“It’s crazy because the way that the game works is that you’re not safe going to and from class so you’re pretty much stressed out all the time – if you go to class, I should say,” said Spanish senior Aaron Johnson, the don of the Gorlami family who won Mafia this year.“I actually went to all of my classes during Mafia week. It’s hard to even pay attention in class – luckily they did it over a weekend.”
As the don, Johnson was sending texts, strategizing and going on missions from the time he woke up to the time he went to bed. He said it was all worth it in the end, and that he’d definitely play again next year.
“There’s something really awesome about being paranoid,” Johnson said.
For more information, visit mafia.onoj.com.