No board? Games for video calls

TIPS! Missing game night? Sick of streaming your life away? Online games tailored for video chats are a great way to spend time with your friends online, so we found the best.

Image for No board? Games for video calls

A screenshot from Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, one of the many online games perfect for your next group video call. (Photo supplied by Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.)

Films? TV? Books? Exercise? In the weeks since social distancing arrived in Berlin, you may have struggled to fill in the extra time at home. You could be streaming your life away, perhaps burning through that series you always wanted to watch (The Sopranos, anyone?). Or perhaps reached your six-pack fitness goal (yeah, right), What else, you ask, is out there?  Well, it’s time for online group games, the kind you play over FaceTime, Zoom, Jitsi or whatever video chat you prefer. Like the board games that inspired them, some are family-friendly, while others are best played with your friends – unless you want to see grandma knocking back whisky shots.

We tested some games over the past few weeks. From drinking challenges to strategy and trivia, we found the best on offer. So next time you jump on a Zoom call with brothers, besties or neighbour, be sure to give one of them a try.

Stay the Fuck Inside

This digital drinking game describes itself as a “game made of games”. You and your friends take turns reading prompts aloud and completing each one. The prompts are specifically designed for a group of people playing remotely, and many are corona-flavored. You might give a tour of your apartment, choose which player is most likely to lose their mind in quarantine, or be dared to share your latest DMs with the group. It’s pay-what-you-want with a minimum of $4.99 USD (€4.60).

Jackbox Games

Jackbox Games come in a wide variety of “party packs,” each with several different types of activities for a group of 2-8 players. It was designed for a group of friends sitting together in their living room, but it works just as easily over Skype! One person can host the game and share their screen while everyone else uses their phone to play. You only need a web browser, so there’s no downloading apps or signing up for an account.

There is everything from trivia and to drawing to collaborative tee shirt design! Some of our favorites include Quiplash, a prompt-answering game where you’ll pitch bad ideas for pinball machines and come up with a better name for France, and Drawful 2, where you’ll have to figure out how to draw “dignity” and decipher your friend’s depiction of a meerkat. (€10 – €25)

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

You’re locked in a room with a bomb. It must be diffused but you don’t know how. Luckily, your friends – the so-called “experts” – all have the manual, but they can’t see the bomb. You’ll have to work together to figure out which wire to cut, how to describe that weird looking question mark with an “x” on the left, and whether or not to press the big red “detonate” button. 

As no one should see the bomb, there’s no screen sharing required! Everyone (except the defuser) will just need a PDF copy of the bomb defusal manual. As a bonus, the manual is available in tons of languages, so this makes for a great chance to practice your German! (€15)

Cheers to the Governor

A classic drinking game that works beautifully over video chat. The premise is simple: you go around in a circle and count off. I say “1”, the person to my left says “2”, etc, until we get to 21. Instead of saying 21, everyone says “Cheers to the Governor” and drinks! At that point, whoever would have said 21 makes up a rule and assigns it to a number. For example “On 9 you have to say 15”, or “On 6 you have to make up an inspiring quote”, or “Instead of saying 1 to start, you say ‘Your turn to start, Henrik.’” If someone messes up they drink, and then they kick off the next round. No two times you play are the same, and there’s nothing quite like feeling a sense of accomplishment for having counted to 21 as a group. (Free)