6 online games you can play virtually with your friends near and far


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Photo: Stocksy / Babett Lupaneszku

It’s a safe bet that you’re missing at least two things during social distancing: your friends and fun. While it’s so important that we stay indoors in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, self-isolation can be, uh, isolating. But since we’re all in this together, there is a way to liven up your downtime by playing online games with friends.

Here’s the thing, it’s important to not combat our loneliness and stay connected during this time, and we can best do that by making the internet our bitch. There are lots of platforms that allows for co-op gaming, and there’s more than one video platform to make more offline-games communal. Remember in college when it was either Skype or Oovoo. A simpler time, really. One without mandated curfews.

Anyway, I decided to give you a variety of things that you can try out. Whether that’s a very simple board game you can do with your iPhone, a role-playing game you can get into on your laptop, or even just an accessible way to do some pantomime via video conference, you have options. Just get creative with FaceTime or Zoom or whatever while you’re playing. Whether you have friends trapped inside across the street or across the country, it’ll be like the whole gang is trapped right there with you. You know, in a joyful way.

Here are six quick gaming options that can rally your community when you have the self-isolation blues.

1. Scrabble

Let’s kick it off really old school with Scrabble, a beloved board game that sharpens your cognitive skills, and causes far less destroyed friendships than Monopoly. You can easily play this off your smartphone and have mini-meltdowns over whether “Kwyjibo” is a real word over video.

2. Poker

Or “Pokerrrr 2” technically, imagine saying it with a sexy rolled “r.” Make yourself a martini and practice your best game face as you and the gang play for the lease of the whole damn casino. Or…like, a collective $30 after each loser sends over a five spot over Venmo.

3. Drawful 2

Drawful 2 has some real Pictionary energy… with a twist. You use your device to draw something based on weird prompts like “creepy tiger” or “two moms having a great day.” Then everyone guesses what they think the prompt is, and vote on the best answer. Three to eight of your friends can participate, and thousands can vote online. Not your speed? Drawful 2 is part of the Jackbox network of games, and you can set yourself up with a whole party pack of remote games that can get you through the end of the world.

But uh, hopefully it won’t need to get you through the end of the world.

4. Quiplash

Another standout from Jackbox, Quiplash is a “battle of wits and wittiness.” You respond to prompts like, “The worst thing to add to your trail mix,” and everyone votes on the best (worst?) answer. You use your smartphone as the controller, and while a screen share is essential for this one, you’ll also want to hop on a group call (up to 8 people can play at once) so you can hear everyone else laughing at your cleverly hilarious answers.

5. Stardew Valley

This one might require you to download Steam, but my colleague Jessie Van Amburg and I both agree that Stardew Valley is positively soul-soothing. The premise is clean and wholesome: you inherit your grandfather’s farm, and now it’s your job to meld into the community of Stardew Valley by building it back up. You can rough it out alone, but I always used to do it two player. If you’re missing the great outdoors, why not raise some cute pigs and plant even cuter turnips with your long distance sweetie?

6. Charades

Hey, why not! You can give this a whirl over Google Hangouts, each person can use the simple website’s prompts, and one person can in charge of keeping score (make sure it’s someone trustworthy). Divide up your friend groups into Teams of two and act out as many words as you can over video. Keep your body moving! You might as well get as much exercise as you can!

Okay, we know we should be washing our hands more, but here’s the deal on if that same rule apply to showering. And these fitness studios are taking their workouts online, so you can get fit from the safety of your own home.

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