Our weekends have become predictable since we started our isolation but I count down to them with glee because it’s a time for us to re-connect with friends and ignore the kids. Just like we did pre-COVID. While we can’t host friends in our homes, we can still hang out into the wee hours of the morning, is what we’ve come to learn. Chris and I have been hosting virtual catch ups and game nights with our friends for 8 weeks now (CRAZY) and I received a couple requests to share our list of games to play with friends during a virtual party so here we are with virtual party games we’ve played and loved.
Our Friday afternoon kicks off with me shaking some cocktails during our livestream and then that excitement continues. Every Friday we have a standing date with friends we used to hangout on a regular basis pre-COVID (but nothing as often as the weekly hangouts we do now, mind you). Things kick off around 8:00 p.m. and the next thing we know, it’s 3 a.m. and we know better than to pour another drink or pull out another game. As the nibbles and drinks flow, it’s easy to forget that there’s a screen between you and your friends, that’s for sure. Just ensure you’re seated in a comfy spot for game night! We start things off by sending a ZOOM invite (I will mention that Facebook Messenger video and Google Hangouts also work well) but since Chris has paid for a ZOOM subscription we rely on that more often than not.
Now while you could easily play rock,paper, scissors or draw hangman and show it via video, I think it’s time to step up those game because there are SO many different ones out there. Whether you’re looking for casual drinking games or more intense games that will take you a couple hours, we’ve got suggestions that are sure to please your group of friends. I will mention that I actually like seeing my friends so for all these games we play them together live, face to face (virtually).
Games To Play With Friends For A Virtual Hangout
Easy One Stop Virtual Party Games
House Party : Undoubtedly the easiest app out there. All you have to do have your friends download this party app and you invite everyone for a hangout. Friends can see when you’re on the app and join your room (unless you locked the room because you want it to be an exclusive night of course!). I like that the app has a video feature built in so you can see each other as you sip your drinks and play the built in games. The trivia section is the one with most options but I personally love Chips and Guac (kinda like Cards Against Humanity but you do need at least 3 people for this one unlike the others which even two can play), and a Pictionary-inspired game called Quick Draw . This is a free app but you can buy games for under $2 easily. You can have up to 8 people at once and if I have to complain about one thing, it’s that a friend can join you and it connects immediately without the need for you to accept the call. Let’s just say I’ve been thrown into quite a few unplanned calls when I open the app!
Smule : Karaoke fans will love this app where you can sing along with friends or strangers and even team up for group performances face to face. There are a few celebrities that hang around this app too. While the app is initially free to download, a VIP paid membership is required to have unlimited song access. The library of free songs can be pretty limited but for a couple hours.
Bingo : Not only is this easy to set up but you can play it on the same device as to the one you’re chatting. One person needs to set up the words and then a link is created so others can easily open up a card. The person who created the words/cards will be the one calling out the numbers/words (whatever you chose). It took me less than 5 minutes to set up but because I wanted to customize the words (versus using the options they have), it took me an additional 20 minutes to think of funny options. This is an easy and fun one no matter the size of the group!
Games that Require Additional Screens for Video Chats
Dominion : Warning, this deck building card game is a bit confusing the first time you play it but you quickly figure things out. Our first game took us an hour but Chris is now addicted to it and plays against the computer often. He and his friends get together to play this weekly. This is a virtual game with no face to face feature built-in so you have to hop on Zoom, Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts on your phone or iPad to chat through while you play the game on your laptop. The base game is free and has plenty on offer but there is a VIP subscription for expansion kits.
Evil Apples : If you miss playing Cards Against Humanity then this is another fab app for horrible people such as us. This filthy and hilarious game enables you to play with strangers or friends. It’s mostly free but you can earn and spend “cakes” for things like writing your own submissions. If you play with friends no cakes are required but you do need to spend a cake to play with strangers. The game also has three modes enabling you to enjoy a classic version or making it harder by playing one hand for the entire game. You need a minimum of 3 people to play this one but there’s no max from what I’ve seen so far. Once again, there’s no built in video option to see everyone’s reaction so you’ll have to use another device to video chat your way through the games.
Psych! : If you’re an Ellen DeGeneres fan you already know this game as she’s behind this app. The free version has a couple categories in which each player makes up fake answers to real trivia questions. You get points for guessing the right answer and each time you PSYCH! someone else into choosing yours. There are a couple decks you can pay for and the option to pay and remove in-app ads but the free decks are good enough for a couple rounds.
HorsePaste : My Friday night group really loves this one because it’s an easy option. We’re usually on Zoom and each of us pulls out our phones and log on to HorsePaste’s site. This is pretty much Codenames and all friends can break out into two groups to play the shared board. Just ensure that you choose a unique name for your game or else you may notice that there are other’s playing your game! We divide into two groups and one person in each group takes turns being the spymaster while others in the group guess the words with a designated person choosing the chosen words on their screen (we can all see the board on each of our personal devices).
JackBox TV : We’ve been playing this quite a bit with our Friday night crew but the challenge we had at the start was that one person has to set things up by purchasing the pack and sharing their screen. If you’re on Discord or STEAM software for other games, then it’s pretty easy to do it through there as well. Once that’s done, it’s easy for that one person to share their main screen onto the Zoom call. Everyone logs on to Jackbox.tv and sign in using the code the game owner provides. What I like about JAckbox Tv is that there are quite a few games in each game pack. Some are wildly fun and some are just so-so. That said, it does really help pass the hours and well worth the cost of the game packs. If you keep an eye out for a sale you can grab some party packs for under $15 and those are the best in my opinion. Some of our favourite games have been Role Models (you attach personality traits to each of your friends), Quiplash, Fakin’ it and Fibbage. These guys have rated the Jackbox Tv party packs pretty well.
If you and your group like traditional board games, you can pretty much find most of them online these days. From Catan to Pandemic, the masterminds behind some of the popular games are working hard to bring online versions to us during these times. I’ve even heard of families having one person with a traditional game board moving the pieces in one window while everyone else is on the video chat. As long as you can eat, drink and laugh together as you strategise I say go for it!!!
If you’re new to video hangouts, don’t stress about it. Just ask your friends if there’s a time and day that you can connect to catch up. Hop on that video chat and before you know it, you’ll be laughing and having a grand time. We ensure that the kids are fed and ready for bed so that we can focus on our friends (minus a few minutes to tuck them into bed or grab a snack). All that matters is that you’re taking the time to connect with friends and doing things you enjoy as a group. I think that’s really good for the soul. Perks include not having to clean up the house because who cares about the mess?