If you had told me a year ago that I would still have ideas for virtual game evenings in spring 2021, I would have my year of rest and relaxation myself. But here we are and you know what? It’s okay! Despite a lifelong aversion to games and group activities, I now look forward to virtual game nights. It’s a cute and fun way to connect, see the lovely faces of my loved ones, and do something other than stare into the void of the zoom while everyone is talking about each other.
You have probably tried your hand at a virtual game night or two by now. It also likely means that you know that not all virtual game night ideas are created equal. You have to be dedicated, a little silly, and relatively reserved to be truly successful. This shouldn’t be a high stakes stressful situation. It’s hard enough getting people on board. So why complicate matters? Fortunately, there is a virtual game for every ability, age, and level of engagement.
Save these options for online wine evenings with girlfriends, virtual family reunions, or even a team building day with colleagues. You’ll never know when it will be useful to have a list of recommendations when trying to plan a more structured virtual hangout. An evening game outdoors may not be possible for everyone yet. So we have virtual options for now.
Check out these 13 virtual game night ideas before you start your next zoom.
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If you’ve never played a jackbox game, I highly recommend you try it out on your next virtual game night. Anyone can take part in a party package that includes five different games for up to eight players. There are drawing games, word games, and more. The games have a very adult atmosphere and the funny narrator has a sarcastic, sardonic sense of humor that will make your group laugh.
Tap your inner player and launch the Nintendo Switch with friends. As long as everyone has a set, you can start. Personally, I’m part of MarioKart, but what kind of 90s kid isn’t that?
While this requires both parties to have the physical Guess Who game in each of their locations, the small investment is well worth it. Make yourself comfortable and play what my friend Jessie likes to call “Conceptual Guess Who”, where you ask very subjective questions like: “Did your person idealize the memory of Marilyn Monroe?” or “Does your person roll their own cigarettes and hats in hot weather?”
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I’m a bit obsessed with the juxtaposition of virtually playing a game that is traditionally played by elderly people in nursing homes. And who doesn’t love bingo? It’s easy, fun, cute and free through My Free Bingo Cards. Alternatively, you can upgrade to a custom game through Interactive Party.
Houseparty had a strong run in the early months of the pandemic, but it’s definitely overdue for a comeback. The app offers free games that you can play with up to three other friends like Pictionary, Trivia, and others. It’s surprisingly fun and a very easy way to get in touch with people as you can send impromptu invitations to play without having to stand up.
What I would give for a dingy pub night shouting wrong answers into the air while sipping a crispy, cold beer. I’m not even a big beer drinker! But unfortunately we have to stick to virtual trivia for the time being. Fortunately, it’s incredibly easy to recreate a pub quiz night with a group of friends via Zoom. Pick a moderator to write and ask the questions, set up a game on Random Trivia Generator, or take part in a game on Geeks Who Drink.
Heads Up is a free app that is surprisingly rough and fun when played with a large group, whether virtual or in person. There are over 75 different categories to choose from, making it accessible to a wide range of age groups. Play with your extended family or best friends the next time you have a virtual get-together. You will be surprised how many times you are on your feet and laughing.
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Image by Jenna Peffley.
Pantoparty makes it easy with an online version that generates cards with random words to act them out. They even have a kids version if it’s a family game night.
If you’ve made it this far into quarantine without buying a wireless karaoke microphone, I salute you. I collapsed in about nine days and have since tortured my neighbors. A quick YouTube search will give you the karaoke version of a song of your choice so you can scream your precious hearts into the night.
Cards against humanity
All bad cards allow the creation of a virtual game that can be played on your phone or with a laptop. Your friends can join the digital playroom via a shareable link so everyone can see what’s happening in real time. They also have a family friendly version available!
Don’t be put off by the admittedly weird name that is as fun as it is addicting. Think of it as Russian roulette and UN in one. If it’s still giving you a break, know that Exploding Kittens works with the Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS), a nationwide “no-kill” animal rescue service, matching donations to BFAS to save cats. Let your friends download the app and enjoy.
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Do you need to improve your card game skills? Check out the games on PlayingCards.io. It includes classics like Dominoes, Cribbage, Hearts, Crazy Eights, and more. Similar to Jackbox and other virtual game centers, friends can give you a room code so you can hone these skills together.
Do you really want to give it your all? Meet your friends and family virtually and visit one of the Game Night In hosts for a private 90-minute game night. The host will guide players through everything so you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the games. Who doesn’t love a curated, fun game night with minimal effort?