Missing your family? We all are but here’s how to host the best virtual Family Game Night.
Especially at holiday time, when the family tends to gather and be together, Family Game Night is a staple in most homes but just because you’re not all under one roof, does not mean the fun and laughter has to stop. We’ve gathered together some of our favorite resources and show you just how to host the best Virtual Family Game Night ever. The best part is that it’s FREE!.
It’s A Party-Send An Invitation
Even though you’re not meeting in person, setting a time, date and sending out a quick invite (via text or email) will give everybody something to look forward to. Plus, determining the guest list—whether it’s mom and the extended family, or your friends from work —will help determine what type of online games to play.
Next, Pick Your App
Houseparty: On Houseparty, an app that’s similar to zoom or skype, you can play built-in-games with friends like Ellen Degeneres’ “Heads Up!”, “Quick Draw,” and even trivia. To get started, simply download the free app, tell your friends to download it too and click the dice icon in the right-hand corner.
Zoom: The new default video chatting software of choice for many people working from home, Zoom allows you to connect with up to 100 people for 40 minutes for free, but you’ll need a monthly subscription to continue after that.
Google Hangout: This popular video chat option from Google will allow up to 10 people to join at once, and works across desktop and mobile.
Skype: The OG of video chat, Skype may be the mode of virtual communication that most people already use. You can download it for free on desktop or mobile, it has an easy interface, allows screen sharing, and up to 50 people can join in.
FaceTime: Are you an Apple family or do you text via iMessage with your friend group? Then you probably already know how FaceTime works. The Group FaceTime option lets you add up to 32 people, and works across iPhone, iPad, and Macs.
Most of these services that give you a way to share the screen with multiple people also tend to provide the option to play third party online games that aren’t built into the app. Some games many are playing with others online right now include Quiplash and Kahoot. from National Geographic. To play, visit their websites and follow the instructions on how to download and share the link with friends.
Heads Up is a game where one person races against the clock to guess a hidden word based on clues their friends give. Originally a stand-alone app, you can now play the game in the Houseparty app for free with up to eight friends.
Miss going to trivia night at your local hangouts? Recreate the feeling with QuizUp, a virtual trivia app where you can play against your friends in realtime. With different categories, thousands of topics, and the ability to win boasting rights, download the app and hop on a video chat to show off everything you know.
Looking for a more simple, no-frills game to play? The Playing Cards website lets you “create a room” where you can invite friends to play board games and card games like checkers, go fish, crazy eights, and any other card game using a standard 52-card deck. All movements are synchronized, and if you add in a video chat, it’s basically like playing in person.
“Gayle has the measles.” “Zar has dysentery.” “You lost all your supplies” Yes everyone’s favorite game from back in the days of the Apple when floppy disks were actual floppy disks is back and now you can relive all of the fun and the best part is that it is the Oregon Trail of your youth! Any kid that was around in the 80’s and 90’s will remember trying to make the harrowing journey across the American West without contracting dysentery or losing any cattle and now they can introduce it to their kids. Oregon Trail, the nostalgic early computer game in which players go on a virtual version of the trek early settlers made (and face all the old-timey challenges they would have encountered), is back and I couldn’t be happier. Travel Oregon, the state’s tourism organization has released a playable version of the game on their website.
Yes, Words With Friends is back and is bigger and better than ever before. Words With Friends was one of the very first virtual games that you could play and challenge friends and with distance learning right now, it’s a perfect way to challenge the kids and keep you on your tows. With competitive modes, lightening duels, and one-on-one gameplay, Words With Friends makes staying in touch with loved ones a fun brain exercise.
Although initially slated for a fall release, the Cards Against Humanity makers decided to move up the timeline and make a free, printable family-friendly version of the famous card game available for bored families everywhere. So print the downloadable PDF out, and schedule that Skype/Zoom/Google Hangout with your family for a PG virtual game night. And don’t worry, you can still play the not quite so friendly family version as well.
Of course, all of us have played Scattergories, but did you know you the game is available to play virtually via the app for free? Challenge your family to a night of the top-selling word game while hanging out on Zoom or FaceTime.
Available across a whole host of platforms (desktop, Apple TV, Fire TV, Steam, Playstation, Nintendo Switch and more), JackBox games are a social distancing savior perfect for virtual game nights. Once you purchase a game (or a pack of 6 games for $20.99) you can play with up to 10 friends in front of a virtual audience of up to 10,000. With personality test games like Role Models, comedy contests like Joke Boat, and unique word games like Dictionarium—there’s endless fun to be had, online.
Ticket to Ride, the classic board game in which you build train routes crisscrossing North America. It’s available across a range of platforms for $7 to $10 (though it’s currently on sale with Google Play for $4), and it’s especially great for families. Everyone will need to buy the app in order to play, but for a beloved game, it might be worth it, especially if your family loves to travel.
Old Classic Board Games Still Work
And thanks to today’s technology there are plenty of non-video options to play with friends online like Mahjong and Catan, Monopoly, Bingo, Charades, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Candy Land, Sorry, the list is endless. Just have one person set up the gameboard, or have each household set up gameboards and let the fun begin.
Don’t let social distancing keep you apart! Thanks to technology, your family is just a click of the mouse away. Now the only question is, what game will you start with? We’ve shared with you how to host the best virtual Family Game Night now let us know how it went for you!
Gayle is an educator, storyteller and lifelong learner with a passion for spontaneous travel. Here you’ll find practical tips and creative hacks with the hope of helping you to create your own extraordinary life experiences - without breaking the bank.