Shit’s crazy right now, y’all.
Even my dog is getting sick of me.
Do you know what we really need right now? Some fun. Once you’ve finished binging Tiger King and don’t know what to do next, how about a little socially-responsible gaming with friends from the safety of your home?
There are tons of games you can play with people that don’t require you to be with people. In fact, the WHO Ambassador for Global Strategy said we should #playaparttogether to help flatten the curve. So I’ve rounded up a few of the GRAV team’s favorites that may make your shelter-in-place a bit more pleasant.
Multiplayer Video Games
Video games are one of the easiest ways to play with friends without actually being anywhere near your friends. We all know the mega-popular MMOs like Fortnite, Call of Duty, and the 900-pound gorilla, World of Warcraft. And those are all great!
But the outside world is cuckoo-bananas right now. So how about something a little less kill-y, like a nice game of soccer...with rocket-powered cars? Rocket League is the slightly explosive upgrade that the classic game of football really needed. You whip cars into a ball, “dribbling” it up and down a bright stadium. It’s the follow-up to a game called Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, which may be my favorite name for anything ever. And you can play Rocket League with friends across platforms, so no need to only call your buddies with an Xbox.
If you prefer a little more story with your gameplay, try the adorably soothing Stardew Valley. Made with nostalgia-inducing 2-D graphics, this charming game lets you grow a farm, make crafts, and befriend local townsfolk. You can play with friends, too, but the game will live on the host’s game system. If the host isn’t online, the rest of the players can’t play. Still, this game is addictive even on your own.
For a game with a bit more at stake, power up Google Hangouts or Zoom and play a game of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. One player has to diffuse a bomb based on instructions from the “experts” who have the manual. You’re working under pressure, so things can get a bit tense! Manuals are available online for free. The game is available for iOS and Android, so you don’t need a game system to play.
Virtual Board Games
There’s nothing like a classic board game night with friends. And there’s zero reason why that can’t continue in the world of social distancing. There are tons of board games available in online versions.
We like to have Risk parties at the GRAV offices after work, which are obviously canceled for now. But there’s an online version of Risk that makes a solid substitute. Or try one of its variations like Risk: Factions or Conquer Club. These games are all about expanding your territory and taking over the world. Just remember — never get involved in a land war in Asia.
For something a bit more collaborative, there’s the lovely Settlers of Catan online. Trade wheat, wood, bricks, ore, and wool with other players to develop settlements and cities. The original board game was invented by a former dental technician, and their game company is still family-run even after selling over 30 million copies of Catan.
If your friendships are really stable, you can also play online Monopoly on Pogo. Add friends so you can buy properties and charge them rent. Ah, capitalism. My own husband takes a perverse delight in bankrupting me during this game. Rude.
Virtual Party Games
Playing games together while apart can still get pretty rowdy if you’re playing the right games. But you have to be able to see each other in real-time to keep the vibe alive.
Houseparty lets you enter a “room” with up to 8 friends from your phone or with a Chrome extension. And you can play games from right in the app, like Head’s Up (the digital version of Hedbanz), Chips and Guac (a word association game), or Trivia. Houseparty is also a great place for a good ol’ virtual happy hour.
If you need a release in the form of being horrible, there’s always Cards Against Humanity. The online version gives you a link so you and your friends can all play together. Get on a Zoom call or in a Houseparty room so you can all share the filth in real-time.
I’m also pretty partial to the Jackbox games. Jackbox is a set of party games that players control from their phones. Only one player has to own the game for everyone to play. This is a great option for social distancing gameplay. They even have a handy blog post on their website with instructions on remote setup.
If you don’t want to get the whole game set, I suggest just buying Fibbage as a stand-alone game. Players are given an incomplete fact that they have to complete with a lie. Your goal is to get the other players to think your lie is true. And you also have to select what answer you think is true. It’s delightful.
I’ve got one more on my list. And yeah, it may seem a little 2016. But my Fitbit is going to hurl itself off my wrist if I don’t start getting some steps in, so I suggest we consider a return to Pokémon Go.
We’re allowed to go outside for walks and fresh air, and if you’re like me, you’re not doing that nearly enough. So maybe a little gameplay will get us off our collective bums. Since this outbreak, the game makers have made some changes that let you find more creatures closer to home, so you don’t have to sacrifice isolation for a fun time.
What games are you playing during social isolation? Share your favorites in the comments, because I am not playing Monopoly anymore.