Have a VIRTUAL Game Night!: Our Favorite Games To Play Online

April 4, 2020

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One of the very first memes I saw when this pandemic was just starting to pick up in the US, read “Check on your extroverted friends. They are not okay!” If you are hosts at heart and have been going through entertaining withdrawals like us, playing games virtually with our friends has been a little band aid on our social distancing wounds. We wanted to share with you some of the popular tried and trues and even some that maybe you didn’t even know were out there! All of these games can be played on your phone, via apps or using a browser, allowing you to play with your friends remotely. And to kick your social game into high gear, use a video conferencing site like Hangouts or Zoom, so you can actually see the gasps, laughs, and face palms as you play! This is highly recommended for our first 2 picks, which are in the realm of games.

Here’s how to get set up:

  1. All players having a strong internet connections is key. Double check on that first!
  2. Open a videoconferencing service (like Zoom or Google Hangouts). As game host, start a game on your laptop and use the screen sharing option so that players you’re on a call with can see the game.
  3. Everyone can play along on their own mobile devices but additionally will need to have Zoom or Hangouts open on a laptop/desktop computer to be a part of the video conferencing.
  4. SUPER IMPORTANT: As game host, if you’re having difficulty with getting out of full screen mode in the game to get back to your video conferencing screen, go to the game’s settings in the main lobby and turn off “Full Screen Mode.”

Let’s get into it! 

1. Drawful 2: Free to Own on Stream Until April 11th! If you’re a Pictionary buff, Drawful 2 turns the point scoring to the players and even lets you provide your own promptings! Definitely at the top of the list for the level of fun, as well as their current offer that’s too good to refuse. 


2. The Jackbox Party Packs ($): Now in its 6th iteration of the made-for-parties collections of games, these packs feature games that have become staples in online gaming, such as Quiplash, Fibbage and the classic You Don’t Know Jack!  Each pack contains a collection of games that provide very different (and hilarious) experiences for friends and families.


3. Catan Universe (Free w/purchases) & Catan VR ($): Catan is the “new” Monopoly. There, I said it. It is regarded as the game that kickstarted the newest era of board gaming (for some people, the Golden Age of board gaming). If you have VR enthusiasts in your circles (I know a couple of them), Catan VR is the same as being on a virtual tabletop and playing the game. The. Same. 


4. Poker (free, as it should be!): select your favorite app (WSOP and Zynga are probably the best out there), have your friends on a group Facetime call, and a fun Texas Hold’em night has begun! (or any other variants). You can set up your own private rooms, and have 8 players on the table. No real money to buy-in, keeping the fun healthy and friendly! 


5. Boggle With Friends (free w/purchases): a distant cousin of this classic, Wordscapes, has become one of the most popular apps in the world. However, the fun in Boggle is not finding a list of words, but to find more words than your opponent! Boggle WithFriends lets you recreate the fast pace of this beloved classic. Definitely worth a few rounds or more.


6. Ticket To Ride ($): anywhere you see a copy of Catan on a shelf, you will most likely see this modern classic too. So easy to learn and even more satisfying to play, it’s one of those games that you don’t even care if you didn’t win. Have all your friends download the app and you’ll be traveling all over the globe in this fun train track competition.  


7. Clue ($): playing the classic mystery game on an actual, physical table, feels very outdated nowadays, but still nostalgic. However, playing it on the app feels surprisingly intuitive… almost as if this is how it was always meant to be. At a relatively low buying price, Clue will provide you with hours of mystery solving, and revive the sibling argument of who gets to be Miss Scarlet!


8. Pandemic ($): (is it too soon?) Pandemic completes the trinity of the modern classic (the other two being Catan and Ticket to Ride). Limited to 4 players, this game will have your team work together to stop a pandemic from spreading across the world. It can be unforgiving and brutal…okay maybe it’s too soon, but the payoff of finding the cure together and saving the world could be the pick-me-up we all need right now. 


9. Perudo ($): Ok, this is the game that Davy Jones and his crew played in Pirates of the Caribbean! Anyone? Also known as “Liar’s Dice,” tensions and fun run so high in this game!


10. Puerto Rico: No other game has been ranked #1 for as long as this one, and thanks to its tutorial mode, learning this game is a breeze for anyone. Puerto Rico never disappoints, and is always a standout at any game night. 


11. Psych! (free w/purchases): From the Ellen family of games with Heads Up!, Pysch is a hilarious game blending trivia and bluffing, challenging everyone in the room to geniously craft an answer to each question. Here, playing is the reward. Winning or losing comes second.


12. Uno! (free): You know how to play this. You also know how not to play this. You also know that you’ll play this game anytime someone challenges you, because everyone is good at Uno!. The app does a great job of scaling up the tabletop experience. You know how, you know when, and you know why to play Uno! Go for it!


13. Risk (free): If there’s something you probably have a little more of now, it’s time. What better heavy-weight game to tackle when days are just blending together anyway! Risk is the “people’s champ” of war gaming. It’s a legend. It’s long. It did an incredible job transitioning to an app. It has a Pass-n-Play version, if you’re playing with others in your house, and also lets you play with friends remotely. 


And one more you may want to try out…


14. Tabletop Simulator : This is not a game per se, but a platform in which you can play any board game. Any. Board game. Setting the games up is, admittedly, a task for the tech-savvy. However, using the interface is not. Anyone who can point and click on a computer can play a game on Tabletop Simulator. Ask your friends to learn the rules of your favorite game, buy it (or recreate it) on Tabletop Simulator, and jump right into the vast universe of board gaming. 


What are you waiting for? Make tonight, game night!


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What do you think?

  1. Abrielle says:

    We’ve used Houseparty a few times and had a blast.

  2. Kaleena says:

    Love the fresh ideas. My personal favorite has been to play the actual tangible Battleship and Yahtzee via FaceTime (as long as both parties have dice and the game)! It’s been so much fun to make a weird season of life still bloom into a beautiful one! Family, friendship, laughter and joy still remain!

  3. Mandy says:

    Hi! Does anyone have a digital Bingo game they can recommend? I have been playing Zoom Bingo with friends but one of them has the actual ball roller thing and cards. I’d love to be able to play with other people but am hoping for a free app to call out the numbers?

  4. Sarah says:

    What a fun list–I never thought I’d be looking for online games. I will definitely try hosting a virtual game night!

  5. Karissa Woodward says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! We host a lot of game nights at our house and have been looking for ways to continue that tradition virtually!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    This is so helpful!! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Susie says:

    Poker should not be free. Changes the whole game.

  8. Nicole says:

    We just hosted a Zoom Birthday party for my 8 year old. We made plain cupcakes and dropped them off the night before with Frosting baggies and sprinkles. We had the kids frost them when they were on the call and then we sang Happy Birthday and played Headsup on my phone. They had fun and it was funny hearing all the kids yell out clues.

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