Who Really Invented MAFIA Game?

Millions of people play the intellectual game Mafia all around the world. But who invented the game? If you Google this question, many different sources will give you the name of one specific person. But I would like to challenge that information by reviewing some of the statements you can find on Wikipedia about the history of Mafia…

Here is what Wiki says:


The first game appearance is documented in 1989, in the summer camp of Pennsylvania (USA). Davidoff’s original Web site where he had posted the original rules no longer exists. That’s why since then the main rule is that there are no common rules for this game.

AND! I met someone who played this game before Davidoff went to college…

That article demonstrates how official sources tell the story. I have been running the English Mafia Club for more than 4 years. And throughout all these years I was never once concerned with Wikipedia’s point of view about the history of the Mafia game. Then, one day, a PRI journalist from New York contacted me with an interview request. Alina Simone was doing her own research about the game of Mafia.

As a professional journalist, she was challenging the statements Wikipedia and other sources were making. She even found Mr.Davidoff in Boston. He moved to US in the 90s and registered the copyrights for the game. Now, he licenses it to different people around the world. Alina had a hard time convincing Mr. Davidoff to come on the radio station for an interview. This hesitant response was interesting, but not necessarily surprising. Imagine making money by licensing your invention to others. Would you be interested in going on public radio and attracting more licensees to market the invention? Even if you don’t have a marketing background, the answer is quite obvious. But Mr.Davidoff definitely didn’t share my view. From what I heard, it was quite a challenge for Alina to get his highness into a PRI’s studio in Boston.

I couldn’t stop asking myself: “Why would he be so suspicious about an interview?” Well, the only logical answer I could come up with was that he is a CIA agent. Alina and I were laughing about that suspicion of mine, but the funny thing is, when Mr.Davidoff was directly asked whether he was a CIA agent, he neither confirmed nor denied it!

Anyway, the guy who claims to be the MAFIA game inventor should probably be suspicious of everything and everyone. But let’s leave him for a moment. We have another interesting character to explore… Ernest Fedorov. An international entrepreneur, who lives in Kiev, but was born in Lviv. A much more public person, by the way. He runs the most well-known local mafia club in Kiev. He is really the first person who created a professional Mafia club in Ukraine. And by the way, he patented his own variation of Mafia game rules. And those rules are pretty much the same as what you see in the majority of professional Mafia clubs in Kiev or Moscow.

So, this gentleman says he was playing Mafia game back in 1981! I asked him: “How did you even know about this game back then?” It tuned out there was somebody in Lviv who played this game in psychological department of university in Moscow. That person got so excited about the game that they introduced it to their friends in their hometown, Lviv.

My next question was: “But who actually invented it then???” Mr.Fedorov said: “From what I heard in 1981 – there were two rooms in the dormitory of MGU, whose residents invented this game. Two rooms in a Soviet dormitory means approximately eight people. Who are they? That will probably remain a mystery forever…”

Another thing I don’t understand is: where are the original rules and strategies that Mr.Davidoff invented? When I started the English Mafia Club in Kiev back in 2010, I learned the rules from somebody, who learned those rules from Mr.Fedorov. I have researched this matter on the Internet, and the only thing I found was: “…all information about the original rules by Mr.Davidoff was deleted from the web when he moved to US and now there are many arguments about the original version of the intellectual game Mafia.”

And where is an official web-source with the information about what we can license from Mr. “Founder”?
My club has thousands of fans and followers. We have hundreds of players in Kiev and around the World. Why have I never been approached to buy that magic license? To be honest, I am very suspicious about all the answers to those questions.

CIA agent

Anyway, all these doubts and questions make the story dark and confusing. But isn’t that logical for something that has to do with the MAFIA? And no matter what conclusions you and I make – Mr.Davidoff certainly added some value to this game by promoting it around the globe. Even if he lied about inventing Mafia game – I still respect him for what he has done.

So, let’s not bother with the history. Let’s just play this fascinating game! And let me be honest with you: if I find out about one of the world’s best intellectual game, which hasn’t been patented by anybody – would I hesitate to do the same thing Mr.Davidoff did? Not for a second!

Date: December 20, 2014
Author: Eugene Bazhenov