Five Fun Games to Play with Family and Friends Remotely During the Holidays
Stay connected with some fun online games for a socially distanced holiday celebration!
December 2020 has been a ray of shining hope in an otherwise disheartening year. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for us who have faithfully remained socially distanced from friends and family since March. Unfortunately with the pandemic in full swing again, for most people traveling to celebrate the Holidays with friends and family is not an option. But we can do the very next best thing — play games together online!
Yule Tide Gaming
Online gaming has saved the social lives of gamers (and non-gamers) all over the world. It is at times like these that I am thankful for great online games, both analog and digital.
If you plan on Zooming, Skyping, Hangouts-ing, or Facetiming with your loved one this month, here are some great ways you can fill the silent moments; with great games that will get people connecting and talking as if you are all in the same room together!
1.Social Party Games — Remember those? Remember going to house parties, drinking inordinate amounts of spiked punch during a game of “Never Have I Ever” or “Two Truths and a Lie”? Remember the awkward games of Charades, Pictionary, and Heads Up in the Living Room after a Holiday Feast? These games didn’t cost a cent to play, but they have stood the test of time and are infinitely fun! The flexibility of these games allowed for large groups to interact meaningfully and get to know each other.
The great thing about these analog party games is that they almost always translate well to Zoom. Your parents and extended family members probably don’t know the post-quarantine “you” — get them up to speed and play some party games at the same time, with an optional glass of eggnog in tow. And as long as you have a webcam and Microsoft Paint you can host a rousing game of Charades, Pictionary, and more.
2.Jackbox Games are next on the recommendation list. At this point in our shelter-at-home lives, almost everyone is at least aware of what Jackbox Games is. But for those who are uninitiated, think “board game meets game show meets interactive hallucination”! Jackbox has released seven “Party Packs”, the standalone game bundles that vary from Trivia to Drawing to Social Deduction and more.
Most Party Packs cost around $20 and include 5 or so games, and everyone has their favorite. The creators of Jackbox are incredibly thoughtful — only one person in your friend group needs to actually buy the pack to play with everyone else. One person “hosts” the game screen, and everyone else plays via their smartphone. Truly a genius creation!
3.Here’s one that is the most costly but in my opinion the most entertaining — Nintendo Switch Online. For those of you with gamer friends, this is definitely an option to pursue. Nintendo Switch consoles have been available since 2017 and sold more than 70 million units. There is a high chance that some if not all of your friends own one of the portable-home consoles.
Nintendo remains the king of the semi-casual, “all are welcome” gaming experience. With online games like Overcooked, Super Mario Party, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Clubhouse Games, there’s a huge amount of fun to be had with your friends.
4.Online Board Games have been around since the dawn of the internet. Chess masters have played with sealed moves sent over the early internet, and today you can play virtually any board game for cheap, usually for free, online. Tabletop Simulator is a fantastic game/tool that allows you to customize a virtual table with any game under the sun. And with an amazing ecosystem of games to purchase, it punches way above its $20 price point.
If you want a $0 completely free option, sites like Board Game Arena allow you to play a select few games with friends for free. There are many games like this with free variants such as Secret Hitler, Codenames, Spyfall, and more. Reddit board game enthusiasts attempt to keep this running list up to date.
5.If you are a gamer you will know this last one on the list. Among Us. Yes, it's a bit of a no-brainer, but think about this fact: almost 500 million players have partaken in Among Us in November alone! Among Us is wildly popular for a reason — it's a great game of social deduction and betrayal. Regardless, I won’t be closing out this list with such an obvious game.
Social deduction games have existed before Among Us, and they will exist long after as well. My personal favorite game from this genre is Project Winter — a stylized survival drama game set in the frozen wilderness. Other games with the same deduction mechanic include Town of Salem, Space Station 13, Werewolf Online, Unfortunate Spaceman, and others. For those tabletop fans out there, there are loads of board games (all available online) with a very unique take on the betrayer trope; great games such as Betrayal at House on the Hill, Ultimate Werewolf, and Secret Hitler are on my “favorite board games of all time” list.
Don’t go it alone this Holiday season. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy your time with friends and family, even if you are apart. Make the time to reconnect with people through games! With this many options, you’re bound to find something everyone enjoys.
This year has been quite the ride. If you are interested in how gaming has changed this year, check out some of my other articles. Oh yeah, Happy Holidays!