Hunt’s Pier – Chapter 8 – Living The Dream

“Nobody ever says, “Remember that Spring?”

But people do say… “Remember that Summer?”Chaz

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1980

One night we were all working. It was early, maybe 6 pm. Each shift was from 5 pm until 11 pm when the pier closed. As one of the cars came in full of people and they exited the ride, someone left a camera on the ride. Danny brought it to me, and I remembered the guy and his family. I was like, “Wait…there he is over there with his wife and kids. I’ll run over and give him back his camera.” But then an idea came to mind. I went over to Louie and told him what was up and handed him the camera. He gathered the whole staff together on the platform and took a photo of all of us guys with the man’s lost camera. He handed it back to me and I ran down the ramp and tapped the man on the shoulder. “You left this on the ride, sir.” The gentleman was very grateful and relieved.

It was one of those jokes you do where you’ll never see the outcome, but you know when he gets home from vacation and gets his photos developed, he’ll find a mysterious photo of the whole Golden Nugget team among his pictures! Great idea, right?

When the pier closed at 11 pm, they always put up a big wooden fence to close off the area. There were guards and dogs always present at night to protect their assets. But the fence was in large sections and each piece was really heavy. After working all night on our feet and taking care of thousands of tourists, the last thing we wanted to do was carry big sections of fence and set it all up each night. So all the flunkies (as Louie called them) who worked all the rides up at the front of the pier were the first ones called upon to help put up the fence. We at the Nugget and the Log Flume would take our good old time closing our rides and walking up to the front of the pier to help. I can honestly say I have maybe only helped with one small section of fence on only three occasions. We were the elite weasels on that pier.

One of the amazing benefits of working for the Hunt’s Corporation was that they also owned every movie theater on the island. So as a perk for being an employee, each Saturday night at midnight, they would have a private screening of one of the latest movies playing in the theaters.

It was awesome. You’d finish your shift at 11 pm, and then had an hour to get something to eat, hit the liquor store to buy some beer, and then head over to one of the theaters and watch a movie with your coworkers. It was glorious. The cool thing was, you could bring a guest. So I could bring my buddy Wolfie with me and we could check out a cool new movie for free. (And drink beer!) But most of the time if one of the guys and I had met some girls that night on the ride, we’d take them to the movies with us. That was fantastic. Free movie with a new girl. Unless it was something we didn’t want to see, we would go every week all summer long. (Even back then, 40 years ago I was providing the hookup to the ladies in my life!)

Seeing The Empire Strikes Back in an empty theater with just my buddies with me was an unforgettable experience. The film as we all know was a long-awaited blockbuster and seeing it for free for the first time was amazing. I remember taking my buddy Wolfie with me to see the film, Airplane! And at the time it was the funniest film I had ever seen. It’s still in my top five of the funniest most creative and madcap movies I’ve ever seen. The Cannonball Run also comes to mind as one of the more memorable films we saw that summer. Just great times!

I even got my friend Pitchy a job up on Hunt’s working at the Log Flume. He was my summertime best friend who lived around the corner from my house. He and I had been friends since the early ’70s and had a rich history of summers together. He had worked as a stock boy at a local grocery store at 9th and Ocean avenue and was looking to do something different for the summer. I got him a job on the pier. He liked working on the flume and got along with all of the guys over there. One night he started chatting up a really cute little Italian girl from South Philly and later made a date with her. A few years later they kept in touch and he eventually married her and they have three great grown kids now. Met his wife on the Log Flume!

I remember it was the 4th of July weekend which is an enormous time at the shore. The island is packed with tourists and the boardwalk is mobbed every night. I went on my break and walked over to the snack bar across from our ride and got a soft pretzel and a fountain coke. I went back to the Nugget and went in the back and up the fire escape to the top floor of the ride. The ride was obviously going non-stop so you had to be careful up there navigating the tracks so you didn’t get run over and killed by the ride. On the roof, (you’ll see in some of the attached videos) had several dead man’s gulch attractions on it. Tombstones, skeletons, prospectors, etc. There actually was a replica of a gallows up there. I climbed the rickety wooden ladder up to the top of it and had a seat at the hangman’s pole.

There it is. Three stories above the boardwalk. 100 feet up from the beach.

The mine cars full of tourists would actually pass under it. So, I parked myself up there and munched my pretzel, and sipped my soda. The view was incredible and I suddenly felt an incredible level of exhilaration sitting up there. Here I was on the roof of a three-story dark ride I once rode terrified with my father and sisters. I lit a cigarette and looked out at the entire sea of people below me. The pier was packed with people, and that flowed out onto the boardwalk that was in full swing. Amusement rides going, people screaming, laughing, and filled with joy. Happy to be at the seashore and away from the heat of the city and work. They were all on vacation and having the times of their lives here in Wildwood.

The smell of french fries, caramel popcorn, funnel cake, cotton candy, and pizza filled the air. The sights and sounds of summer. I sat under the stars and watched as fireworks exploded in the sky in the distance.

I knew in this perfect moment that I was in the most pristine place in my life. I sat atop my castle as the self-proclaimed King of Wildwood. Finished with high school, tan, fit, clear skin, healthy, and immaculate. My painful past barely visible now. I had game and could talk to girls and they liked me enough to date and kiss me. I was in a rock and roll band, and didn’t have to be anywhere I didn’t want to be.  The island and this ride were mine.

But I could feel as I finished my cigarette I wouldn’t come up here again.

This moment would vanish and never return.

Like a child’s balloon that had escaped their grasp. You watch as it rises higher and higher into the night sky. But you’ll never get it back.

All you can do is make a wish…

The sax solo in this song (4:00 minute mark) by the late, great, Clarence Clemmons, and Bruce’s howl at the end of the song is about as close as I can get to what my heart felt like on any given summer night in Wildwood.

But, even as I write these words, I feel I just can’t do justice to those summers at the seashore.

You had to be there.

Hunt's Pier At Night | "Watch the tram car please!" 1970s Po… | Brian | Flickr

I’ve lived and worked in many places throughout my life.  But I still say to this day, working at Hunt’s Pier on the Golden Nugget Mine Ride was The Greatest Job I Ever Had.

 

This is sort of what it sounded like to be on the boardwalk in Wildwood.

Here are a link and some videos I found to give you an idea of what the Golden Nugget Mine Ride was like:

http://www.funchase.com/Images/GoldenNugget/GoldenNugget.htm

This series is not over yet. There’s more to come every Thursday through July.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Wildwood Daze – Overcast Skies

North Wildwood, New Jersey – 1977-1978

Every morning when you woke up in your bed at the seashore, normally the first thing you heard was the distant cry of a seagull. It was a grounding sound that let you know you weren’t in the city anymore.

Back in 1977, I’d get up every morning, 7 days a week, and go to my job at the El Morro Motel where I worked as a pool boy. It was my first job, and as much as I liked having a job and not being grounded, I always hoped for rain.

But to the best of my memory, it only rained a couple of days that summer. Which is great for the local resort community’s economy, but I rarely ever got a day off. I mean, I only worked from 7 am to noon each day due to my age, but a guy needs a day of rest occasionally. But, I didn’t really mind. I had boundless energy back in those days at age 14, and once I finished at the motel, had the rest of the day to play.

When it rained at the shore it always felt a little sad. The island relied on the sunshine to provide the one thing everybody who came to the shore was looking for. Go to the beach, sit by the pool, hit the boardwalk, and go on the rides at night. If it rained the tourists would be pretty much holed up in their motel rooms, watching television, eating, drinking, and playing cards.

Some folks would put on their rain slickers, grab a couple of umbrellas and head to the movies for the afternoon. There were plenty of theaters in town. The Hunt’s Corporation owned them all. The Blaker, The Strand, and The Shore Twin, just to name a few. I would later work for Hunt’s in 1980.

Blaker Theatre in Wildwood, NJ - Cinema Treasures

Others would brave the wind and rain and head up to the boardwalk to play in the arcades because all of the rides were closed. All the shops were open, and people could buy souvenirs or try their hand at a few games of chance.

I will say, after a good thunderstorm, the ocean was usually still a bit angry. The wind and surf could be a bit wild. I’ve experienced some of the best body surfing in the waves after a good rainstorm. The feeling of that powerful, bubbly water washing over you was better than any spa treatment you could get today.

But, I couldn’t go to work because the pool was closed and people couldn’t go to the beach. So what to do on a rainy day?

My friend from next door and I would take a walk along Surf Avenue. We lived on 8th street and would make the trek down to 17th street. The only time I ever saw my neighbor wear shoes was if he was going to the boardwalk at night. Other than that, we all spent the summer barefoot.

The reason we went to 17th street was that there was a big open shop that carried all of the usual things most resort community stores provide. It not only served as a huge newsstand where you could get newspapers, cigarettes, and candy, it pretty much carried everything you’d need for a day at the shore. Sunglasses, beach towels, t-shirts, paperback books, magazines, suntan lotion, beach toys, and all of your other seashore and beach needs. But the only reason my neighbor and I would go to this particular shop was that they had not one, but five racks full of comic books!

Back then comic books only cost twenty cents. So, if you had a dollar in your pocket, you could buy five comics! So between the two of us, we’d usually leave that place with ten brand new comics! That was an entire afternoon of reading quality stories together. Our favorites were horror comics!

Mixed horror Comic Books (Lot of 6) Vintage 1972-1974

We’d normally park ourselves on his big porch. We’d sit on the astroturf covered floor and lean on the support posts across from each other. Once you were finished reading one, you’d simply toss it over to your friend. We’d do this for hours as the rain beat down on the metal awnings around the porch.

Sometimes we’d get together with my sister and her friend Sandy and break out the board games. Our go-to game was Monopoly. That game was amazing. We’ve all played it and it’s based on the streets in Atlantic City where the game found its origin.

We’d pick our little playing pieces and off we’d go. I always liked being the car, and I think my friend was the hat. I don’t remember what pieces the girls picked but, I don’t think either of them really cared.

During one part of the book they play monopoly every night and the games would get very heated and the pieces would g… | Monopoly pieces, Monopoly game, Game pieces

We loved playing monopoly because it was such a fun competitive game. The object is to become a giant property owner and destroy your opponents financially. Pure Americana right there!

But before each game, my friend and fellow comic book and Mad magazine fan would sing a little song. It became a ritual before each game. I loved doing this so much, I never forgot any of the lyrics we sang about the game of Monopoly. The melody of our little song came from the United States Marine Corps Hymn. So, this was a serious moment before each game in an attempt to beat the girls and win all the money.

You can pick this tune up at the 0.40 second mark to hear the melody.

Here’s the lyrics we sang before each game of Monopoly.

From the slums of Baltic Avenue to Boardwalk and Park Place.

We will buy up all the properties. Put hotels on every space.

We will drive our foes to bankruptcy if they fail to pay the price.

But we cannot even start the game, till someone finds the dice!

Then we’d start the game. It was a riot.

We’d play as two teams. This way we could share ideas and strategies. There were times we’d have to take a short break from the game and go in another room and have a conference about what was to be our next move. Should we attempt to acquire all of the railroads? What about the utility companies? Is there any possibility that cheating could become an option to win?

We’d return to the table and carry on. I don’t know if the girls needed these little meetings. I think they were just happy to play and have something to do on a rainy day.

The game takes hours to complete, so we’d have these marathon gaming sessions. The girls were good. Too good. They made wise financial decisions and thoughtful, methodical moves. On the other hand, my friend and I were a bit more reckless with our money. Our only object was to win and destroy our opponents. But the ladies were slow and steady. They were slightly older than we were and patient in their approach. Great development skills for the future I suppose.

We've All Been Playing Monopoly Wrong Our Entire Lives | Vintage board games, Childhood games, Childhood memories

If my friend and I were ahead, we’d gloat and act like idiots. But I suppose that’s just typical teenage boy behavior. We’d have moments of glory and bask in the victory of our decisions. But, slowly the girls would basically take us apart. I don’t mean the occasional win by some lucky roll of the dice. The girls would systematically annihilate us on the board. We’d be mortgaging our properties and facing bankruptcy, as the girls calmly moved forward with their program. Being testosterone-loaded boys we didn’t take kindly to their evil, diabolical schemes against us.

Was this really happening? Were we being faced with the stone-cold reality of being beaten by a couple of girls? Well, you don’t know my sister. While my friend and I were laughing and thinking we could ace the game, she was probably thinking three moves ahead of us. Classic ant and the grasshopper level stuff going on here on the floor of our living room.

Things would begin to look a bit bleak for us financially, as the girls rolled the dice and hopped around the board. The pressure was on. We had to turn this situation around. We had to win. Losing was not an option.

Our financial world was beginning to crumble before our young startled eyes. What to do?

It was time to take one of our many breaks to reassess the situation and our assets. This was serious. The girls would relent and let us go into another room to discuss our future game plan. They’d get up, stretch their legs, grab a soda and a snack. They’d then resume their positions around the board and patiently wait for our return. They knew it was just a matter of time before they would grind our dreams of being land barons into dust.

Knowing the losers would have to clean up and put away the game for next time was too great a punishment. How could we dig our way out of this seemingly hopeless situation?

A bit of time passed, and we weren’t back from our closed-door meeting to discuss our plan. So the girls called out to us to come back and finish the game. When we didn’t respond, they came looking for us. But we were no longer in the other room.

We did what any teenage boys would do with the threat of being defeated.

The girls heard the sound of us outside and saw as we ran past the front porch windows.

They did what any victors would do in this situation. They chased us both all the way down the street until they caught us. We would both sheepishly march back and have to clean up the game like good boys as my mother looked on. Like a warden, she made sure the escaped felons were brought to justice and made sure we cleaned it up properly and not just dumped everything back in the box.

The best part for us was being chased down the street by my sister and her friend. It was all in good fun. We were all laughing hysterically, and it was just another rainy day at the seashore.

Tomorrow the sun would return and we’d all be back on the beach where we belonged.

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

21 of our Favorite Holiday Gag Gifts — All from Amazon

I love this crap!

Happy Holiday, Everyone!

 

A warning to those who leave their children unattended in cafes

unattendedchildren

Amazon

“Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten” sign, $12.99

Perfect for that friend who owns a cafe and just can’t figure out how to deal with the unbridled children of their caffeine-fiend clientele.

 

A (loudly) screaming goat figurine and booklet

screaminggoat

Amazon

“The Screaming Goat” book and figure, $7.55

If they still can’t get enough of that Screaming Goat video on YouTube, this is as blood-curdling — and annoying — as you might imagine. Trust me, I have one on my desk. My colleagues love me.

Blinker fluid, for the uninclined

blinker fluid

Amazon

Blinker Fluid, $6.95

We can all think of someone who this is for. Maybe they’ll get the message now.

The world’s smallest violin

violin

Amazon

3-Inch Miniature Violin Replica (with case), $11.98

Sorry, no pony this year, either, kiddo. Play it, momma.

A mock video game to drop the hint that it’s time they pull their weight around the house

extremechores

Amazon

Extreme Chores: Motion Controlled Video Game (empty box), $7.49

For little Lord Fauntleroy. Yeah, maybe coal didn’t quite get the message across, but this ought to do the trick. Note that this box comes empty, so you can also fill it with coal, if you so please.

Your face on a pair of socks

facesocks

Amazon

Custom Photo Face Socks, $15.59

Put the mug of their best friend (or worst enemy) on a pair of socks. Either way, they’ll wear them. Trust us.

For those who ask too many questions

'what if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions'

Amazon

“What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions,” $11.49

Great coffee table (or commode) material for the coveter of useless information.

Help them slow that little tyke down

toddler tamer gag

Amazon

Toddler Tamers (gag kit), $7.99

Parents, rejoice!

An ice cream lock, so they’ll stop blaming you for being the culprit

icecreamlock

Amazon

Ben & Jerry’s Euphori-Lock Ice Cream Lock, $24.19

For the stingy one who’ll never share their ice cream.

Poems by cats about what cats do best

icouldpeeonthis

Amazon

“I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats,” $9.89

For your friend, family member, or housemate who’s just a little too in love with their feline and could stand a reality check.

A muffler whistle, to terrorize both them and the neighborhood

mufflerwhistle

Amazon

Muffler Whistles, $8.79

To the know-it-all mechanic(s) in your life: Fix this!

Your face (or theirs) on a real potato

potatoface

Amazon

Potato Pal, $17.99

Your face on a potato. How could they not savor this forever and ever?

One dozen rattlesnake eggs (keep warm for best results)

rattlesnakeeggs

Amazon

(Fake) Rattlesnake Eggs, $7.99

Best delivered incubator-warm.

A bag of “the world’s strongest coffee”

deathwishcoffee

Amazon

Death Wish Coffee Co. Coffee, $19.99

We only hope they’ll get this is a gag.

An impossible-to-solve puzzle

ravensburgerpuzzle

Amazon

Ravensburger Puzzle, $15.68

Something to finally stump that very special whiz kid you know.

A remote-controlled scorpion (be sure to pre-open and gift-wrap this one)

rcscorpion

Amazon

Remote-Controlled Scorpion, $15.99

Have the remote handy for when they open this one; it’ll work a lot better.

A game for the whole family

relativeinsanity

Amazon

Relative Insanity Party Game, $14.16

Think “Cards Against Humanity,” but for some wholesome fun for the whole family.

A personal cleansing wheel (in lieu of the bidet they keep asking for)

rotowipe

Amazon

Roto Wipe Personal Cleansing Wheel, $7.99

So they’ll finally stop pestering you for that exorbitant bidet thing they all love so much over in Europe. (Note: This is just an empty box in which to wrap your real gift.)

Instructions for gracefully approaching (and achieving) senescence

crotchety

Amazon

“How Not to Become a Crotchety Old Man,” $6.39

Dear Dad (or Grandpa)…

Snot (and tear) mittens, for those who work outdoors, or just won’t stop wiping their nose on their sleeve

snittens

Amazon

Snittens, The Original Snot Mittens, $19.99

One side for snot, the other for tears. Maybe after receiving this, they’ll stop wiping their nose on their sleeve, or their bare hands. Probably not. Either way, they actually work!

A practice putting green for the bathroom

toiletgolf

Amazon

Toilet Golf, $9.95

If their Golf Digest subscription just isn’t cutting it on long trips to the john anymore, they can always stand to work on their short game.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

10 Virtual Escape Rooms For 2 People That’ll Kick Your Boredom To The Curb

Imagine this: It’s a rainy day and you’re texting your bestie. In between various emojis and pics of your island on Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you’re saying how you need some new ideas of things to do at home. Why don’t you team up for a rad adventure and check out these virtual escape rooms for two people? They’ll kick boredom to the curb and challenge you from the comfort of your bed.

It may sound too good to be true, but you really can enjoy these escape rooms in a pair of sweatpants and with a cup of coffee by your side. You don’t have to travel to a city where these excursions are on every block, or even necessarily make a reservation with a company in order to have this unique experience. Instead, you just need a laptop or tablet and the determined attitude that’s needed to solve epic puzzles and reveal wild mysteries. Of course, you also need a pal who’s willing to spend an hour online with you, tag-teaming a storyline that’s based off of Harry Potter or a gang of superheroes very similar to the Avengers.

Finding a bestie who’s down for a spontaneous at-home adventure likely won’t be hard, though. After all, everyone in your group is saying they’re ready for a new challenge or for some fun. Check out these 10 virtual escape rooms for two people.

1. Unlock Disney World Virtual Escape Room

A young woman sits on the floor of her loft with a cup of coffee and her laptop.
MilosBataveljic/E+/Getty Images

First up, if you and your bestie are diehard fans of Disney, then you’ll want to play the Unlock Disney World escape room. This virtual experience is entirely up to you to navigate, and is easy to access, thanks to Google Slides. Just text your BFF the link to the slides, call them up, and then conquer this storyline together by clicking on the same pieces of the puzzle. You’ll start at the Haunted Mansion and work your way to it’s a small world.

2. “Save King’s Landing” Escape Room

Have you ever dreamed of saving King’s Landing from Game of Thrones? This escape room gives you the chance to do it, with a series of online puzzles and the help of Tyrion Lannister. If you solve the puzzles with your bestie, then you two will rescue the city. Be sure to book your time slot in order to play. (Right now, this escape room costs 60 euros for two players on two different devices.)

3. “Defeat Thanos And Save The World” Escape Room

The “Defeat Thanos and Save the World” escape room is really a race against the clock. You and your bestie are given the task to stop Thanos, the strongest villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from destroying your beloved city. Experience what it would be like to fight alongside your favorite Avengers, and celebrate your victory with a Captain Marvel watch party and some popcorn.

4. “Oscar’s Stolen Oscar” Escape Room

The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland joined in on the virtual escape room fun with “Oscar’s Stolen Oscar” Escape Room. According to SimpleMost.com, this experience allows you to help Oscar, the fish from Shark Tale, in a quest. To solve the mysteries, you must navigate the virtual tour of the aquarium that’s located on their website, and use all the information buttons to crack puzzles and find clues.

5. Esscape Room’s “The Real Kitchen Nightmare: Silent Partner Edition”

A young woman with blue-green hair plays an escape room on her laptop and eats a slice of pizza.
Nevena Ristic/E+/Getty Images

On any given day, you and your BFF may typically order pizza and watch a movie. Your next hangout will be a little different and might include Esscape Room’s “The Real Kitchen Nightmare: Silent Partner Edition.” It’s a live, online experience that you have to book in advance, but is well worth it because of the nail-biting storyline. The word on the street is that you’re looking to hire some new employees for a world-renowned restaurant in the city with a chef who’s troublesome. Grab a slice and get ready for a true adventure.

6. ‘Shrek’ Escape Room

If you’ve ever watched the Shrek movies and jammed out to “All Star” by Smash Mouth with your bestie, this super sweet Shrek escape room is for you. It starts with you waking up in a dimly lit room to the bold smell of earwax (Was there an ogre here?), and having to read a scroll. The rest is for you to find out and enjoy while on FaceTime with your BFF, eating waffles that are approved by Donkey, and playing the films in the background.

7. “Welcome To The Snow Ball” Escape Room

Stranger Things fans, unite! This virtual escape room, titled “Welcome to The Snow Ball,” will only take you 30 minutes to complete, but will be loads of fun. You’ll start trapped in the gym with your crew, frantically looking for an escape. But, if you translate the Russian memo sent to your phone then you may be able to find your way out with ease. Jot down answers and team up with your BFF to make it happen, OK?

8. ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Escape Room

Are you watching every episode of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix? Check. Trying out this Schitt’s Creek-inspired virtual escape room? Well, that’s next on your at-home bucket list. To be honest, you didn’t know such a beautiful excursion existed, but now you’re excited to tackle all three levels of gameplay — named after the characters, of course.

9. Escape Room L.A.’s “Escape From Planet X”

Charday Penn/E+/Getty Images

A vacation in space sounds pretty cool, right? You would likely lounge with the aliens and teach them about the constellations in the sky. During Escape Room L.A.’s “Escape From Planet X” experience, you may change your mind, as it becomes your mission to get your spaceship up and running before aliens attack you. The experience lasts an hour and can be played with your bestie by booking a slot with a live host for $15 per person.

10. Ultra Mega Super Death Escape Room

Give the Ultra Mega Super Death Escape Room a try when you’re kicking your boredom to the curb with your bestie. It’s not as scary as it sounds, and has a storyline you’ll likely find #relatable. You and your bestie are in quarantine — as you may be now — and you have to unlock a secret stash of Nintendo Switches. If you get to the stash, your character will be able to ditch TV episodes they’ve seen already and go play Animal Crossing: New Horizons instead.

 

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How To Have A Zoom Game Night

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.

2. Punderdome

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.

5. Charades

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!

9. Quiplash

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

Woman using a laptop in the night sitting on a couch in the living room at home
Shutterstock

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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