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Long-Distance Is Hard, But Virtual Game Nights Are Easy

At the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine, many of us stayed home from school and work for months. During this time we had to adapt to our situation and developed ways to virtually connect for meetings, lectures, and many other activities that were typically conducted with one another in person. Zoom, Google Meets, and other online tools used for communication became key assets in maintaining connections. For more casual discussions with friends and family, FaceTime and Skype were long-trusted tools that helped us stay connected with each other. 

While there are more opportunities to see close friends and family now compared to a year ago, many of us are still separated from those we care about. Some of you may have recently left home for a college in another state, while others may have had to stay home to protect the health of a loved one. Regardless of how you are separated from the people you care about most, I’m here to share fun and easy ways to stay connected using virtual resources that expand beyond a simple conversation on FaceTime. 

Gartic phone

Gartic Phone is a fun, free game that is similar to the children’s game telephone. When a game is created, you share a link with the friends that you would like to join. When all the players have joined, you may start the game. Note that there are different modes to the game so the following instructions may not apply if a different version of the game is selected. Here’s how Gartic Phone works:

  • Each player is asked to write a sentence, phrase, or word.
  • After all the submissions have been entered, they will be randomly distributed to different players.
  • Each player will then be instructed to draw an image that represents the word or phrase that was given to them.
  • Once the drawings are completed, the images will also be randomly distributed to other players that will be tasked with labeling the artwork with the phrase or word they believe best describes the image.
  •  That new statement will once again be assigned to another player for the cycle to repeat itself until three to five images have been drawn.
  • Once the game is over, everyone will be able to see how different the last image is compared to the very first phrase it started from. You can even download your favorite drawings from the game!
  • Skribbl

    This game is a free virtual version of Pictionary! Once a game is created, you share a link with the friends that you would like to join. Before you start, you can decide if whether or not you want to play with the generic words or list words that your group decides they want to be included in the game. Here’s how Skribbl works:

  • In each round, one person is given a word that they have to draw.
  • While the person is drawing, each person will be typing their guesses as to what the word is based on the artwork shown. (Each player is given the number of letters in the word as a hint).
  • The game will tell you if your guess is close to the correct answer, and you receive more points based on how fast you guessed the word.
  • After a certain amount of rounds have been played, and the game ends, the player with the most points wins!
  • Buzzfeed quiz party

    This is a fun and easy way to get to know your friends and compare your results with one another on certain quizzes. This is especially easy as it can be used on pretty much any device with google or web browser access. Here’s how it works:

  • Once up to five friends or family members have joined, you can start the quiz.
  • Once everyone finishes, everyone’s results will be shown!
  • When everyone is ready to move on for another quiz, have everyone click the blue button on the bottom so the host can move on to finding another quiz
  • Jackbox games

    Unfortunately, Jackbox is not free, however, the packs of games often go on sale and they contain multiple games that you can keep forever once purchased and downloaded! They offer a variety of gaming choices, with eight packs to choose from you are bound to find a game your family and friends will love. My friends and I personally love pack 6 for the games “Murder Trivia Party” and “Role Models”. This game will require the screen share option on Zoom or Google Meets. Here’s how Jackbox works:

  • Open the pack you desire to play from, and select the game you are interested in.
  • Once the game opens, press play.
  • The game may need a minute or two to connect to the gaming server, but once it connects a code will be displayed.
  • Have your audience go to Jackbox.tv and type in the four-letter code provided.
  • Once everyone has joined the game, typically the first player to join will have a button on their screen that reads “Everbody’s In”. Press that button to start the game.
  • Each game has a minimum and a maximum number of players that can join, but Jackbox has an audience function that gives extra members the opportunity to participate and watch! 
  • I hope that these games provide an enjoyable experience for you and anyone that may be out of reach at the moment. Remember to stay safe and have fun!

    University of Hawaii at Manoa :P Pre-Nursing Major and aspiring Pediatric Diabetes Educator
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