Mafia (Russian: Ма́фия, also known as Werewolf) is a party game created in the USSR by Dmitry Davidoff in 1986, modelling a conflict between an informed minority (the mafia) and an uninformed majority (the innocents). At the start of the game each player is secretly assigned a role affiliated with one of these teams. The game has two alternating phases: "night", during which the mafia may covertly "murder" an innocent, and "day", in which surviving players debate the identities of the mafiosi and vote to eliminate a suspect. Play continues until all of the mafia has been eliminated, or until the mafia outnumbers the innocents.
Dmitry Davidoff (Russian: Дми́трий Давы́дов, Dmitriy Davydov) is generally acknowledged as the game's creator. He dates the first game to spring 1986 at the Psychology Department of Moscow State University, spreading to classrooms, dorms, and summer camps of Moscow University. Wired attributes the creation to Davidoff but dates the first game to 1987, with 1986 being the year in which Davidoff was starting the work which would produce Mafia. He developed the game to combine psychology research with his duties teaching high school students. The game became popular in other Soviet colleges and schools and in the 1990s it began to be played in Europe and then the United States. By the mid nineties a version of the game became a Latvian television series (with a parliamentary setting, and played by Latvian celebrities).