Game Night While Social Distancing

For many of us, we’re entering the 3rd month of quarantine during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Staying sane and keeping a schedule has been one of the top priorities.

While we’ve been encouraged to practice social distancing, tons of memes have been floating around showing how gamers have been unaffected. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but there is some truth if you only look at the online gaming scene. 

If you are solely a video game purist, the new normal has not posed many issues. Battle royale games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Apex Legends, and Fortnite are all popular as ever.

The Nintendo Switch offers great titles like Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and even Overcooked. PC gamers are enjoying the new Valorant beta as a nice compliment to established shooters like Rainbow Six: Siege and Counter-Strike: Go

But what about people who want the enjoyment of good ole fashion game night without using a controller or mouse and keyboard? Enter the secondary gaming world – board games, card games, and party games.

With the power of video conference applications, we can open up games that would otherwise need to be played in the same room to the entire world. Your application of choice can be determined by your goals for the game night.

You’ll find various guides around the net on choosing the right one. Our recommendation is to use either Facebook, Google, or Zoom. 

Once you are properly connected with your friends, the final piece is deciding what to play. That’s where we want to help!

Here are a few of our picks for the best genre for a socially distanced game night!

Flash’s Game Night Picks

Picture-Guessing Games

drawful example
Screenshot from Drawful 2

Inspired by Pictionary, these games are a great way for you and your friends to showcase each other’s drawing (in)abilities! All you need is a smartphone to play from and the host to share their laptop screen.

Make sure not to cheat! Fingers only; no stylus or pens for improved dexterity.

We recently played Drawful by Jackbox Games. It typically allows you to use 1 color and prevents you from erasing. Some of the items you are required to draw can result in some hilarious creations.

Free options include Sketchful.io and Skribbl.io.

Charade Games

charades - great for game night
Image from wikiHow: Playing Charades

For those that want to use more acting ability rather than artistic ability, give the charade-styled games a try! Take a few steps back from a well-positioned webcam and all the social distanced barriers are gone. In fact, some of you may feel more comfortable acting a fool in the comfort of your own home instead of in the same room with your friends.

Either way, trying to get someone to guess a volcanic explosion through all action and no words can lead to quite the demonstration! Warning: laughing will ensue.

One game that combines charades with two other popular games – Taboo and Password – is Fishbowl. If you want to keep things more simple you can find a random generator for actions and keep score on your own. PlayCharades.net gives you that. 

CodeNames

It wouldn’t take much to bring this magic online!

Codenames is another great game suited for social distancing. In fact, it might be better under these restrictions as it will limit the forbidden non-communicative clues you can give when together. This one will require more discipline on shouting things out of turn but, if executed properly, can be a ton of fun!

There are several free options for Codenames including Codenames.plus and a version by Cyberspaces.

Escape Rooms

escape room - great for game night
Screenshot from the movie “Escape Room”

You read that correctly. Even escape rooms have made it to the online space! If you are feeling less competitive, you can have an evening of cooperative problem-solving. Though, I can’t promise it won’t lead to the same blaming as found in a competitive game.

Either way, as you might expect, the themes are almost limitless. Doing a search for “online escape room” plus whatever you are looking for will probably result in success. Here are a few popular free ones we found: Hogwarts, Bank Heist, and Midnight Express.

Yoshyaes’ Game Night Picks

Social Deduction games

This genre of game tasks players with using logic to figure out what role the other players have in the scenario. Often times, you’ll have a “good vs evil” theme where the players are split among groups. 

Social deduction groups often bring your friends to the brink of distrust, with each member defending their position. Emotional arguments arise as conflicting reasoning leads you to doubt even yourself!

Avalon is one of my favorite games in this category and can be customized with additional roles if you’re feeling especially ambitious. The Chameleon is another good one if you want to push the boundaries of your lying capabilities.

LIES THAT SOUND LIKE TRUTH

Fibbage XL - great for game night

Fibbage is a bluffing game that tests both your random trivia knowledge as well your creativity. The goals of the game simple: select the correct answer to complete a prompt and convince the rest of the players that your creative suggestion is the appropriate response.

In Fibbage, I’ve had as many laughs as I’ve had moments of shocked enlightenment. Even if you can’t rack up points from the primary objectives, there’s still a consolation prize if your answers get the most likes!

There are several variations of Fibbage available, but my personal favorite is Fibbage XL. It’s a fantastic game for your friends to be silly and flex their wit muscles!

Houseparty

Houseparty screenshot

Houseparty is typically associated with mobile face-to-face and also has a desktop client for folks who want to join on a bigger screen. Last year, Houseparty announced an acquisition by Epic Games last year and has a vision to “make human interaction easier and more enjoyable”.

This collaboration brought us community trivia challenges like the Fortnite Trivia Deck which test your battle royale knowledge. 

The app has seen explosive growth during these quarantine times, with 50 million users joining in March. It’s great for getting larger groups together and you can play popular games like Heads Up and Quick Draw.

ONLINE VIRTUAL WORLDS

Second Life

Since we can’t go out to social gatherings in the real world, we might as well hang out in virtual ones!

Virtual worlds have been around for decades, and allow people to literally just chill with their online friends as customizable avatars. I’m not talking about MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, though. Rather, I’m focused on games that purposely exclude an end goal and only emphasize social interaction.

Games like Second Life give you the freedom to do many of the things you would do in the real world from the comforts of your own home. Best of all, the system requirements for your PC are low so it’s incredibly accessible for non-gamers!

How do you do Socially Distant Game Night?

We want to hear from the community! What are you doing on your game nights to stay connected to your friends and family? Let us know your recommendations in the comments section so we can continue to grow out this list!

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