I feel like everyone I know – myself included – has a game night now. It has become the thing for Millennials (like myself) to do. According to Euromonitor, sales of board games and puzzles increased from $9.3 billion in 2013 to $9.6 billion in 2016 – and sales are only getting bigger. Board games are great for having a drink with your friends and just playing around – making each other laugh, trying to win and, of course, snacking.
However, with the rules of social distancing, that’s changed. My own group, which has been meeting every week for almost four years, made the switch to meeting over Zoom and Discord to continue our games when quarantine began. Even my in-laws have brought their game nights online! Below, find some of my favorite ways to take the game night from your living room to the internet.
Get the Group Together
First, make sure the crew knows they’re invited. “Make an electronic invitation on a platform like PaperlessPost or Evite where guests can RSVP and find more info like the timeline of the event and who else is invited all in the same place,” Jennifer Bennour, owner of Fête du Jour Events says.
Then, pick the platform. There are a wide variety of free online video calling methods – Zoom and Skype are among the most popular. Zoom can host 100 participants, while Skype can host up to 50 people. Those numbers make for some pretty epic game nights! For a smaller group, FaceTime or Facebook Messenger may be the way to go. There is also Discord, which is originally an app for online gaming that offers video, instant messaging and audio capabilities. For audio, there is no limit on the number of people who can participate, but you can have up to 10 on a video call. If there’s a link involved make sure it works and that everyone has it and knows what to do,” Melisa Imberman, founder of The Event Of A Lifetime says.
Both Imberman and Bennour agree that if time and budget allow, it can be nice to send a little gift to each guest beforehand. “I love the idea of sending everyone a small gift card to Drizly or Grubhub so they can get their favorite snacks and drinks beforehand. If everyone is local, the host could make little care packages with treats they would have served at an in-person event, like a mini cheese board or a pre-mixed drink to-go, and drop them off before the event,” Bennour says.
Let the Games Begin
Roll20 is a free website primarily for playing tabletop roleplaying games, like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu and hundreds of others. The platform is simple to use – you can make an account and join a room of strangers or a private room and send a code to friends so they can join you. The website comes built-in with all the functionality you need to move virtual minis, roll dice and more.
A free website that allows you to play a variety of “standard” card games like Go Fish, Crazy 8’s, and matching games. Basically, any 52 card game you want to play though you can also find chess and checkers available here. No account needed to play. Most exciting is you can play their version of Cards Against Humanity (called “Remote Insensitivity”). All you need to do is select the game you want to play. Then send your game night crew the link to the room and you are good to go!
JackBox is unique as it allows the host to play games on their TV while others join in on their phones by typing in a pairing code. While this is a paid service, the deals are pretty good (six games for $20, for example). The games range from rap battles with robots to their version of Pictionary. To make this more interactive, ask the host to share their screen on Zoom. That way, you and your friends can chat and laugh as you find out who the secret artist is among your friend group.
Wow if you wanna FaceTime with a bunch of friends and play games I highly recommend downloading House Party pic.twitter.com/2PvN5ckZKZ
— gabifresh (@gabifresh) March 22, 2020
Houseparty bills itself as a face-to-face social media app, which makes it excellent for game night! The app features the popular game Heads Up, where someone has a word on their forehead, and you must get them to say it. Promise you are in for some laughs with this one, especially if you have had a couple of drinks.
It is the classic card game, but online! Simply download the app onto your phone, invite friends to play and relish in hitting them with three draw 4 cards in a row.
Another fun classic for game night. This online version of the board game will have you and your pals passing Go and collecting $200 all night long.
The unofficial, online version of Cards Against Humanity. Set this up on a Zoom or Skype call – or even without a call! One person acts as the room’s host and receives a unique link to send to their fellow players. They only need to click the link – no account required – and add their name to the room. Players take turns as the “Card Czar,” choosing their favorite responses to questions like “____: it’s what’s for dinner” and “From ____ to ____: a Memoir.”
Do Not Forget the Snacks
Tasty snacks are another key part of game night. Nachos, charcuterie, chips and dip, fruit trays – all are valid options. However, in the time of Corona, delivery and contactless drop-off reign supreme for everything from your favorite local Thai spot to your corner liquor store (Quarantinis, anyone?). Try surprising your fellow game night players with their favorite food delivered straight to their door!
Of course, your local grocery or chain superstore is also a great way to stock up on snacks for game night. Many grocery stores are now taking orders a few days or even weeks in advance and will load your order into the car, totally contact-free. We recommend ordering your game night snacks sooner, rather than later, so you are sure to have something to munch on while you are playing.
Remember, having a game night physically apart from your friends does not have to be a drag – you can wear comfy clothes, go makeup-less, or even add in a little self-care (Sunday Riley flash facial anyone?) while you are playing Monopoly!
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