Now that the majority of the country is practicing social distancing, the way we entertain ourselves has drastically changed. Musicians are streaming concerts on YouTube, comedians are going live on Instagram, and people all over the world are using Zoom well after their work calls are over in order to spend time with loved ones. But if your video chat hangs are starting to feel a bit repetitive (read: You’re drinking way more wine than usual), a game night on Zoom may provide a much-needed reprieve.
“Using video conferencing technology to have fun, to engage with other people, and to connect socially, reminds us that we are not alone and that we have people there to support us,” Dr. Josh Klapow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and associate professor of public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, tells phicklephilly.
Hopping on video chat can be a great way to feel less isolated. Folks everywhere are propping up their phones while they cook together, watch movies, or simply have conversations. But the fun of a game night, in particular, can make these quiet evenings seem a little less strange and a lot more nostalgic. Battling it out with friends might even ease coronavirus-related anxiety, at least for a little while, as you focus your mind elsewhere.
Here, a few ideas for ways to have a Zoom game night, so you can stay connected from afar.
1. Trivia Night
You may not be crammed into your favorite bar booth with five of your closest friends, but you can still recreate trivia night by playing together on Zoom. Start by assigning a host (like yourself) and coming up with questions. Aim for five or so categories, with about eight questions each.
From there, figure out how you’ll communicate. Each team will need a private space to whisper answers, like a breakout room, but you can all meet back in the main “bar” area on Zoom. Give everyone 30 seconds to deliberate, and then have them submit answers via DM.
Of course, as with any trivia night, you’ll want and need rules. Remind players to stay off Google, to put their phones down, and to only get answers from teammates — not their roommate, who is a fount of 90s music knowledge. And just like that, you’ll have recreated trivia night from the safety of your homes.
A rousing game of Punderdome can easily be played via Zoom. To begin, gather at least three people, ensure that someone (again, probably you) has the deck of cards, and spend an evening making awful jokes.
To play, the “prompter” draws two cards from the deck and then reads them out to the rest of the group. Everyone has 90 seconds to create the worst pun they can come up with that combines the two prompts.
The prompter then chooses the pun they like best. The first person who gets 10 pairs of cards wins!
3. What Do You Meme
The “adult party game for meme lovers” is another one you can play from afar. If you’d like to show your cards, simply angle your camera so everyone can see what’s on the table. Get creative with this, and it’ll feel much more interactive.
What Do You Meme is all about matching up photo cards with caption cards to create your own meme. Similar to Cards Against Humanity (we’ve all played that, right?), the winning puns will come down to personal preference and can lead to heated debates over what’s funny and what isn’t.
Since you can only play with up to six people, it’s a great game to try on video chat without feeling too overwhelmed. Drinks, snacks, and other social distancing comfort optional.
4. Truth Or Dare
This classic game is a fun one to try from the privacy of your own home and can be played with as many people as you like. Ask your friends “truth” questions to learn more about each other, or go for a “dare” if your goal is to crack each other up. The possibilities are endless, as long as they all involve staying inside.
In case you need a reminder, charades is that game where you act out a word or phrase without speaking, and your teammates have to guess what it is. To do it over Zoom, simply move your camera when it’s your turn, so everyone can see what you’re doing.
You’ll need two teams, a list of suggestions, and a timer. Each person will get a chance to act out their word, while their team tries to figure it out. You might get something like “gardening,” at which point you’ll get down on your hands and knees, dig in the dirt, plant flowers, etc. Use your imagination.
You can’t, of course, mouth the answer, make noise, or use items in your room as clues. That’s some hardcore charades cheating, right there. But you can think back to your high school theater arts class, and put your old miming skills to work.
6. Dungeons & Dragons
The cool thing about D&D is it’s an imagination-based game, making it something you can easily play on Zoom until you can meet up with your friends in real life.
The majority of the work will fall on the game master (probably you) since it’ll be important to consider ways to keep everyone involved. But it can be done! Just pretend you’re all sitting around the same table, as per usual, and continue your story.
If a player needs dice to roll, they can do so online with a quick Google search. There are also fancy virtual tabletops you can try out. But you may want to keep things simple, especially if you aren’t too experienced with the game or have never tried it before, and stick to fun, light-hearted role-playing.
7. Mind Meld
Have all your friends sign on to Zoom, then take turns going in a circle while trying to “meld minds,” aka say the exact same word at the exact same time.
Two players will start by counting down from three and then saying any word that comes to mind. One player then turns to the person “next to them,” and they count down from three, then say a word that the two previous words made them think of. And so on.
It’s basically a game of word association, and if you play it right — where no one’s trying to be funny or saying random things just for a laugh — you will eventually hone in on the same word, and it’ll feel like magic.
8. Never Have I Ever
This is a classic drinking game that can be played with or without alcohol over video chat.
Have everyone hold up their hand as players take turns sharing something they’ve never done before. If someone in the circle has done it, they put a finger down (or take a drink). Go for spicy questions to keep things interesting, and to make it less likely that everyone’s done it.
Ideas: Never have I ever fainted. Never have I ever bungee jumped. Never have I ever had a paranormal experience. Never have I ever had a one-night stand.
The person with the most fingers remaining up at the end wins!
The rules of Quiplash are super easy, as there are no rules or correct answers. All you do is answer prompts within the game, then everyone votes on the wittiest answers.
According to the game’s creators, you can play with up to eight of your friends, as well as up to 10,000 participants in the in app “Audience.” Playing on a stream? Your viewers can join in and participate in the game, too.
10. 21 Questions
Get to know your friends even better by playing a game of 21 Questions. To get things started, have everyone come up with a list of 21 Qs, then roll a die, and have the person with the lower number answer first.
The person who is asking should start with easy questions, like, “What did you have for breakfast this morning?” Then move onto ones that are more risqué, if your friends are OK with that.
You can ask “what if?” questions, pose interesting scenarios, ask about dreams and fears — or whatever else sounds fun.
11. Two Truths & A Lie
Two Trusts & A Lie is another party game that focuses on telling, well, two truths and a lie. Each player will have a chance to share two facts about themselves plus something that’s entirely made up, and the goal is to correctly guess which one is the lie.
To throw everyone off, choose two truths about yourself that people might not know, or two things that seem a bit outlandish or out of character for you. Mix those in at random with a lie, which can be equally outlandish, and chances are everyone will have a hard time figuring it out!
12. Read My Lips
To play Read My Lips, have the person who is “it” turn off their microphone. They will then say a series of words in a given amount of time while everyone else reads their lips and writes down what they think they’re saying. The person with the most correct guesses is the obvious winner.
13. Pass It Along
This game is all about creating a story together, one sentence at a time. Start the story, then pass it off to another friend who will add the next sentence, then someone else will add the third sentence, and keep going until it feels like the tale has reached a natural conclusion.
You can be as serious or as silly as you want, but think about the plot, remember to add in characters and details, so the story is interesting. Try to recall what was said before you and work together to create a narrative with rising action.
For an added element, record the story and listen back afterward to hear back how utterly ridiculous it was.
14. Scavenger Hunt
If you’re hosting this event, create a list of things people may (or may not) have around their apartment. Add everyday items to the list, like a coffee mug or a box of pasta, as well as a few unique items, like an antique watch or a Slinky. Set a timer, share the list, and see who can come rushing back to Zoom with the most items on the list.
15. Drawing Challenge
Pick a category, form teams of two, and have one person from each team do a Google image search of abstract shapes or pieces of art that fall within the category.
Go into Zoom breakout rooms so you won’t be talking over each other, and then be as specific as possible as you describe the image to your partner, so they have a better shot at drawing it on a piece of paper, with paint — whatever medium you’ll all be using.
Give everyone five minutes to draw, then come back into the main chat and vote on the winner.
16. Last Letter
If you’d like to keep your brain sharp during this time of social distancing, play Last Letter with your friends. All you need to do is choose a category — ’90s movies, flowers, states, colors, etc. — and say a word within that category. The next person will say a word that starts with the last letter of your word, and on and on you’ll go until someone comes up blank. That person will then sit out the next round. Keep playing until only one player is left standing.
17. Would You Rather?
Ask each other “would you rather” type questions, such as “Would you rather have really long arms or really long legs?” or “Would you rather have super strength or super speed?” Be creative and have fun!
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources.
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