6 Games to Play with Friends While You’re Social Distancing

With people around the world being ordered to stay at home, many college students especially have been forced apart from friends and roommates. While social distancing is necessary to slow the spread of coronavirus, it doesn’t come without its toll on mental health. Being cooped up at home can be frustrating, upsetting, and boring, especially if you don’t have many people in your home you can talk to. 

Thanks to the age of technology, however, there are more ways to keep us connected than ever. While texting, video calls, and social media are all helpful ways to keep in touch with friends, sometimes you need something a bit more exciting. What better way to have fun and distract yourselves than a game night? Here are my top six suggestions for games you can play with friends without even leaving the house.

1.) Jackbox Games

Jackbox Games are some of my favorite things to do with a group of friends. Jackbox produces a variety of party games that anyone can play by inputting a room code on their smartphone. You can buy a “party pack” containing five different multiplayer games, or you can purchase standalone titles. While the games do cost money, only one person needs to purchase them, and other players can join on any device with an internet browser. Games can be played in person or even remotely using any app that lets you share your screen (Zoom, anyone?). Jackbox is currently running a sale on all of its party packs and standalone titles, and for a limited time, the company is offering one title, Drawful 2, on select devices for free. My personal favorite games are Quiplash, a game similar to Cards Against Humanity that lets players write in their own responses to prompts, and Trivia Murder Party, a competitive trivia game with punishing minigames for anyone who dares to get a question wrong.

2.) Playingcards.io

Playingcards.io gives you all the fun of classic card and board games without having to leave your house. The website offers checkers, Crazy Eights, Go Fish, Match Up, and a game called “Remote Insensitivity,” which is another game similar to Cards Against Humanity. You can also set up a custom game with a standard card deck and make up your own rules. All you have to do is set up a room, share the link with friends, and everyone can join the fun.

3.) Town of Salem

If you’ve ever played the party game Mafia, Town of Salem is your free, browser-based go-to. The classic version of the game randomly assigns players a role categorized as town, mafia, serial killer, and jester, with different subsets of town and mafia roles. It’s a game of deception and investigation: if you’re a town member, you want to vote out all the mafia members and the serial killer. If you’re part of the mafia or the serial killer, you want to quietly kill off as many town members as possible without detection, until you’re the last one standing. Jesters, the most chaotic role, will want to convince the town that they’re evil and deserve to be voted off. If you like games that will likely tear your friendships apart, Town of Salem is the one for you.

4.) Minecraft

Is there any video game as wonderfully nostalgic as Minecraft? Relive your childhood (or see what you missed out on if you’ve never played) by connecting over this survival and crafting game. My favorite part of Minecraft has always been its endless options for playing. You can spend hours just building extravagant houses and contraptions (I distinctly remember spending hours trying to build a roller coaster in middle school), or fight to survive. You can join a multiplayer server to play with friends, or when you’re bored at 2 a.m., explore your own world in single player mode.

5.) osu!

Osu! is a free rhythm game originating in Japan that challenges you to keep the beat to your favorite songs. You can download “beatmaps” of a wide variety of songs created by the osu! community. The game can be played solo or in multiplayer mode. When you play with friends, everyone can choose which beatmaps they want the party to play, and you’ll compete against each other for the highest score. If osu! doesn’t have a beatmap for a song you want, you can even take on the challenge of creating one yourself. The design of this game is adorable, and I love that it combines two of my favorite things: friends and music. 

6.) Animal Crossing: New Horizons

It was inevitable for me to include the game that the internet is freaking out over. As a long time fan of Animal Crossing games, New Horizons has consumed much more of my time than I’d like to admit. This game is pure escapism: I can fish, catch bugs, and talk to cute animals for hours while forgetting about what’s going on in the real world. You can visit your friends’ islands and send each other letters and gifts. While the game is only available on the Nintendo Switch, if you don’t have one, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is an entertaining alternative, and it’s a free smartphone app.

Whatever you play, I highly encourage you to just have fun with it. There’s a lot of pressure right now to be productive, start new grandiose projects, and revamp yourself, but you should never feel guilty about having some mindless fun with friends. Hop on FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or whatever your preferred method of communication is, and stay connected while we’re all apart.