History of the game
This page deals primarily with the history of Mafia as a forum game. Dimma Davidoff is generally credited as the creator of the basic concept of Mafia (an uninformed majority vs. an informed minority) in 1986, though variations of similar games may have in fact used this concept much earlier. For more information, see the history page at The Graduate Mafia Brotherhood of Princeton University.
The Grey Labyrinth, a puzzle website, added a discussion forum in 1999. While initially the forum was entirely focused on puzzles, eventaully (after a switch to UBB) other topics were discussed, and the forums developed a more social atmosphere. Early 2000 saw the first games, with a RPS tournament and Paladin's first Serial Killer game/puzzle (the Serial Killer killed based on a rule, and players had to determine what that rule was).
mith had been visiting the site since 1996, and started posting in the forums soon after they started. mith had played face-to-face Mafia with his church youth group in the late 1990's, and one day decided it would run well on the forums. The original thread can still be found here. The early GL games were often more experimental in nature, with many of the conventions used today developing as things came up. After the first game, roles from the Princeton site were used, along with original roles invented by whoever was moderating.
Mafia and other games soon began to make up a significant portion of the threads on the GL, and a forum was created specifically for games. A waiting list for moderators was created, mostly to make sure everyone got a turn that wanted one, while controlling the number of games running at a time.
In 2001, mith introduced Mafia to Brunchma.com, and the game took off there as well. In part to prevent the game from completely taking over the GL, and in part to bring the two Mafia-playing communities together along with new players independent of both sites, mith decided it was time for a website dedicated to Mafia. After an aborted attempt on his personal website, mafiascum.net was created in 2002. The forums officially opened on March 28, 2002.