Online Games

What do you think are good games for playing over a video chat?

Sir Monkeypants and I recently did a Trivial Pursuit night with two other couple friends of ours. It worked pretty well. One couple had the board and set up a phone pointing at it, while dialing into our Zoom call on a laptop as well, so we could all see them and see the board. We each had our own die to roll at home, and the other couple also had the same TP game so were able to share in asking questions. We all brought our own dessert and beverages of choice.

(Also: we lost. But we didn’t embarrass ourselves, so we’re calling that a win, and we’ll see how we do at the rematch scheduled for tomorrow.)

It worked fairly well, except that there can’t be any side chit-chat because the Zoom tries to focus on just one person talking at a time and when we’re all talking at once it’s hard, so you had to sit and wait quietly when it wasn’t your turn. But otherwise, success!

I started to think of other games that might work remotely like this. I couldn’t come up with many, so I thought I’d throw it out there for ideas.

Things that could work if everyone has their own copy of the game:

  • Yahtzee
  • Battleship
  • Guess Who
  • Snakes and Ladders (head to head speed races, perhaps?)
  • Cranium, maybe?
  • Bananagrams, maybe, if everyone used a smaller letter stockpile, and played until their own letters were gone?

Things that could work if one person/group has the game, and the others just instruct the home team on how to move their pieces:

  • Chess
  • Connect 4
  • Scattegories
  • Pandemic
  • Forbidden Island
  • Boggle

Okay, that’s all I can think of. I know there’s others where you can maybe all play together online through an app, like Scrabble and Ticket to Ride, but I was looking for things that could be a little more interactive and have a little more human component.

Got any other ideas of games that might work remotely?

3 thoughts on “Online Games

  1. Mark Davis

    We played Pictionary last night with another family, using whiteboards. We didn’t keep score, just took turns with one family drawing and the other guessing. It took us a while to figure out how to make it work (but that’s sort of part of the fun of it) – we started out with just one feed per family, but quickly realized the camera needed to be trained directly on the whiteboard in order to get a good image, so then we both eventually set up a second feed just for the people. Not strictly necessary for the game, but that gave it a more personal connection. You also need good markers to make good solid lines, and also don’t draw too small.

    Trivial Pursuit does sound like it would work well if you both have the same games, or hey – even if you don’t. We’ve often played with different card sets for different people. That would require both parties to have cards that the other likes, but probably not a big obstacle.

    The problem with audio is one I’ve long complained about with online meetings (they happen pretty regularly at work, and obviously more so now). It’s amazing to me that in 2020 we have video phone calls, but the audio is terrible and it really degrades the experience. If more than one person talks at once it just falls apart. Maybe someday when our interfaces with our devices are surgically implanted that will finally be able to work better – each person would have a separate feed and they could be mixed together for better separation. It also doesn’t help that the audio feed in Zoom is effectively (or maybe even actually) mono. Stereo separation really helps a lot.

    It’s interesting that the distinction between games where you need to have shared objects and those where you don’t has suddenly become very important. Battleship is a classic example – it’s trivially playable with only an audio connection between the two players. Card games are at the other end of the spectrum – how do you deal from one deck of cards to two physically separated parties?

  2. Check our board game arena.com – if you pair it with a zoom call, it’s pretty good. They have Solo (I.e. Uno) and Yahtzee, I think both are free. (The premium membership int expensive either.)

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