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Virtual Game Nights: Gather Your Competitive Crew

Savannah Kuchar
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Virtual game night

A group of friends, all Rice students (pictured, counterclockwise) Lidia Ochoa, Savannah Kuchar, Josh Bae, Zachary Taqi, Loren Goddard, Patrick Yee, Stephen Chamness and Natalie Goddard laugh at their questionable artistic skills while playing Skribbl.io.

Looking for a fun and safe way to spend time with friends or extended family? Invite them to join you (virtually) for some healthy competition and high-spirited time together.  

This summer, I’ve been a part of a couple of virtual game nights and they were a blast! My friends and I used Zoom to set up a group call, and then after logging on and catching up for a bit, we jumped into the excitement of the games, with the help of a few different websites or apps.

Virtual game nights are also a great way to make new friends. Sometimes the best way to get people to open up and be themselves is by meeting them in the heat of competition. If you host your own game night, invite a few of your friends and ask them to invite other people they know but you don’t yet. In this way, you can actually use this time of physical separation to branch out socially.

If you ever end up with a group that’s too large (more than 10 can be tricky with some games), one thing my friends and I like to do is to use the breakout room feature included on platforms like Zoom, which allows you to separate into smaller and more manageable groups (usually 6-10 people per room). After a couple rounds, scramble up the rooms so you can meet and play with as many people as possible.

There are many online games available to help your group to reconnect, no matter how physically separated you may actually be. With a quick Google search, you can likely find an online version of any board or card game that you’re used to enjoying in person. Or check out the list below for some recommendations of games that my friends and I have tried and loved:

  • Codenames (ages 10+): An online version of the popular board game, Codenames is played with two teams (technically there is no limit to team size, but we’ve found that it’s generally best with three to five per side). Both teams have a certain number of cards assigned to them, but only one person on each side, the designated “spymasters,” knows which cards these are. They then must communicate with their teammates in one-word clues to get them to choose the correct cards. Whichever team is able to identify all of their cards first wins.
  • Among Us (ages 10+): This app is similar to the popular group games Werewolf and Mafia, where 4-10 players can log in and play the game on their phones. The twist is that one person is designated the Imposter, while everyone else is a Crew Member. Crew Members try to complete various tasks aboard their spaceship, while the Imposter attempts to blend in while silently sabotaging the mission by killing other players or tampering with the ship. The only way to defeat the Imposter then is to complete all required tasks or to identify who the Imposter is before they’re able to fully take over the ship.
  • Skribbl.io (ages 13+): In this online rendition of Pictionary, each person in the group takes turns drawing a given word while everyone else attempts to guess what that word is before time runs out. After three rounds, the player with the most points, earned from a combination of guessing and drawing skills, is crowned winner.
  • Scattergories (ages 12+): All players are prompted with a game letter and five distinct categories. You all then have to come up with a word that starts with the assigned letter and can fit into all five groups. The more unique you are, the more points you get, and at the end of all rounds, the player with the most points is the winner.
  • Kahoot quiz (all ages): You might be more used to seeing this site in a classroom, but it’s also great for non-academic group settings, like a virtual game night. Setting up your own quiz is super easy, and it can be about literally anything! You and your friends can use it to have a trivia night, where everyone comes up with their own quiz on a random topic (ex: sci-fi movies, vintage cars, football statistics, Harry Potter, etc.). Or if you’re using the night to meet new people, have everyone make a quiz about themselves and take turns learning about each other through some rapid-fire multiple-choice questions.
  • Charades (all ages): This classic game-night game easily translates to an online format. Split your group into two teams and then with the help of an online word generator, take turns acting out different words. The side that can correctly identify the most words wins!

Editor's note: For more on game-night fun, see ideas for family game night and gathering for a virtual mah jongg game

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