More than eight weeks into social distancing and quarantine in response to the corona virus pandemic, many of us have been keeping in touch with distant friends and family on video chat, via the ubiquitous Zoom, Face Time, House party, Google Hangouts or any other software.
While it’s wonderful that we have the ability to see our loved ones on our screens while COVID-19 keeps us from getting together in person, there isn’t much to talk about in a world without school, sports, new movies or much news unrelated to the fight against the virus. If your Zooms are in a bit of a slump, a virtual game might jazz things up enough that you won’t need to pretend you’re jumping off the call to do some work.
We’ve compiled a list of Zoom-friendly games – some video games, some board games and some that require no equipment at all – for a range of ages and occasions. Whether you want to plop the little ones in front of their grandparents to get a half-hour of rest or you miss Saturday night partying, there’s something on this list that will entertain you for the length of a call.
We all remember this game from preschool. Someone is Simon, and everyone else playing has do to whatever “Simon Says.” Anyone who follows orders when Simon doesn’t utter the magic words is out.
Particularly good for wrangling a chat with five or more participants, and obviously for entertaining preschool and elementary school kids. And lest you think this is only for children, adults can enjoy it, too – there’s even an adults-only game of Simon Says in Season 2 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
If you’re not playing Animal Crossing yet, chances are you know someone who is. The recently launched Nintendo Switch game has been a best seller for the company and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular, especially in quarantine.
Users move to a deserted island in the life simulation game, fishing, growing flowers and fruit trees and designing their homes and a village. If you have a Nintendo online subscription, you can visit friends’ islands with your in-game avatar, and enter their houses, buy from their stores and generally have a good time.
Video chatting with your friends while you or they visit makes it even more fun – you can give a guided tour of every nook and cranny on your island.
Dungeons & Dragons
The popular role-playing game set in a fantasy world is mostly verbal and usually played around a table, so it can be easily converted to digital form with each player conferencing in.
Trivia (of any kind)
Quizzing your friends and family (or being quizzed yourself) is an easy, engaging way to liven up Zoom. All you need are questions and answers, which you can acquire from the cards in board games like Trivial Pursuit, or go online to research your own list of stumpers.
Here’s a pop culture freebie: Which movie won best picture in 1976? (Answer: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”)
Strictly for responsible, adult-only Zooms (preferably on Friday and Saturday nights), there are ways to adapt classic college drinking games to suit a video chat format. While card games are out, classic secret-spilling games like Never Have I Ever are easily done remotely.
You can also watch movies and TV shows in tandem, and play the associated drinking games. But, like in college, you all have to agree on the rules of the game, and since you’re not in anyone’s home specifically, no house rules will likely apply.