9 More Online Games For Virtual Gatherings
As the pandemic has gone on for almost 11 months since my last article about games (11 Online Games For Virtual Gatherings), I’ve felt the continued value that laughing with friends in a virtual environment provides. As such, here are some more games that you can use as mediums for laughter. My criteria, as before, is that I must have personally played them, they must be free/cheap, easy to set up, and last but not least, fun.
Free | <10 players| Word Game
Taboo is a word game that is normally played in person. However, I find that the online variation is actually better because the timer is automatic and the scorekeeping is easily accessible as well. The premise of the game is to try to make your teammates guess the word at the top of the card without saying any of the words on the rest of the card. When they do guess the word, you get a point, and you’re trying to get as many points in 60 seconds as possible. In retrospect, it’s basically a more forgiving version of charades (where you can’t talk at all), but Taboo still requires a surprising amount of lateral thinking to be good at. You’ll probably want to split the group into pairs, so that each person has someone to perform to, or you could also split the group into two teams so that multiple people can guess at a time. The reason I put <10 people is that while one team is playing a round, everyone else is just sitting around listening, which might get boring.
2. Bomb Party
Free | 2-~15 players| Word Game
Bomb Party is a word game where you’re presented with a letter combination (e.g. “ran”) and you have to type a word that contains those letters (e.g. granulation) before a bomb blows up on you. The bomb points at different players hot-potato style in a circular pattern, and if you can’t think of a word fast enough a few times, you lose your life points and get eliminated. A neat mechanic that counteracts this is that if you use all 26 letters at least once, you gain a life, rewarding longer answers. Of course, typing these longer answers also means the bomb is more likely to blow up on you, so there’s a risk-reward aspect too. I always have a lot of fun playing this game.
Free | 4–10 players | Mafia-style Deception Game
Spyfall is a game where everyone is a detective with the exception of one spy. The detectives are all given the same location, and the spy doesn’t know the location. Detectives don’t know who the spy is, and they must figure out who they are by asking others about the location. For example, if the location is a playground, a player could ask another player “are children normally found in this location”, and if they reply incorrectly, they would be very suspicious. The game ends when the detectives unanimously vote on someone being a spy or the spy reveals themself and guesses the location. Compared to other Mafia games where there are many roles, this game is a bit more simple with only 2. While reducing the skill ceiling of the game, it also makes it easier to understand and play and makes good tactics more rewarding since they come from actual ingenuity rather than a familiarity advantage.
Free | Unlimited Players | IRL Game
Here’s one for the people who aren’t good at video games. In Scavenger Hunt, one person simply makes a list of items that all the players should have in their house (e.g. toothbrush, picture frame, stapler), and then one at a time, call out the items for everyone to go fetch in their house. Points are awarded to the first 3 people who bring the item back. The game is usually short but fun and action-packed as people are scrambling around their houses trying to find items.
Free | Unlimited Players | Trivia
Trivia is always a fun test of knowledge for a group of friends, and with so many trivia resources online, it’s fairly easy to set up too. Have one person be the host, and split everyone else into two teams. Have the host create a room on https://buzzin.live/, and have everyone else join their room. From here, you can make your own rules, but a popular format is the Quiz Bowl format, where the host reads the question, and anyone can buzz at any time (the host stops reading), and then that player has to answer without help from their team. If they get it wrong, the team is locked out for the question, the host finishes the question if they weren’t finished reading it, and the opposing team has a chance to answer. By allowing buzzing anytime, teams are rewarded for taking the risk of answering with an incomplete question, and also removes the need to race for the buzzer after the entire question is read like in other formats.
6. Pico Park
$5 (Free Refund?) | 2–8 Players | Puzzle Game
In Pico Park, a cute minimalistic Steam game, every player gets a character in a platforming world, and using teamwork and logic, the players have to work together to solve puzzles. Some friends of mine convinced me to get this game a few months ago, and it was 5 dollars well spent. The game is available on Steam and costs 5 dollars (USD), but if you play it for less than 2 hours, you can refund it as with all Steam games. There aren’t too many levels to play so you can actually finish it within 2 hours, but even if you don’t I still think 5 bucks from each player is worth it for the adventure (compare it to going skating or swimming in real life).
7. Among Us
$5| 25–15 Players | Social Deception Game
Among Us was such a popular game in the past few years that I doubt anyone needs to be reminded of its existence. Nonetheless, if you’re one of the few that don’t know about this game, it’s a social deception game where up to two people in your crew of space-faring creatures are impostors, trying to kill everyone and avoid being voted off the ship by the other crewmates. I played this game a lot to the point where I don’t find it that fun anymore — if you lie well and win you’re left with the bittersweet feeling of having won but betrayed the trust of your friends. Nonetheless, it’s popular for a reason: it’s accessible, it’s rewarding to figure out who the impostors are, and every game plays out a little bit differently.
8. 4 Player Chess
Free| You’ll Never Guess | Chess Game
I mentioned Chess in my last list, but I think this variation, 4 Player Chess, deserves a quick mention because a chess tournament is much harder to set up and not quite as chaotic as 4-player chess. The premise is pretty simple: take turns in a circle playing regular valid chess moves, but on a modified board with 4 players. If you advance your pawns 7 spaces, they promote to queens automatically. You get points for capturing pieces and for checkmating players, and at the end, your points determine your ranking. Give it a shot!
Free| Any # of Players| Miscellaneous Game
WikiRacing is a deceptively simple game: given two unrelated Wikipedia pages, traverse from the first to the second only by clicking on links within the Wikipedia pages that you encounter. The first player to reach the end is the winner! They can then screen share and hit the back button a dozen times to show the ridiculous path they took to get from the start to the end. There are also specialized sites to make WikiRacing easier, but I’ve never tried any of them.
There you have it, 9 online games to try with friends!