Zoom has probably become your most-used app—besides Netflix and Hulu, of course—over the past year. Whether it's a meeting for work, a catch-up call with family, or a happy hour with your BFFs, we've all been using the video chatting service during coronavirus quarantine.
If you're like me, you have a specific night of the week you set aside for some one-on-one time with the people you care about the most. Sure, those first few minutes are probably great for catching up—but after some back-and-forth, the conversation dies down, and you and your Zoom backgrounds are left to look at each other. Therefore, to pass the time and so my friends don't have to hear me go on and on about The Queen's Gambit anymore, here are 24 games sure to inject some fun into your next virtual hangout.
Games You Can Play Online
Words With Friends
If everyone has the app downloaded onto their phones, you can play Words With Friends with your crew over Zoom. Hold a tournament where each person plays each other each night of the week and then have the champions face off in a head-to-head battle. Or, play a Lighting Round where you have to unscramble a group of words in the least amount of time with up to five players.
Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity's website has downloadable versions of the Main Game and the Family Edition right on their website—because in these times, your favorite card game has gone digital. Simply scroll down to the section that says "Steal The Game."
The Uno app lets you partner up with one person in your friend group for a two-on-two game, or you can just play the game the classic way. You can even choose with rules you want to play with before you start the game, so say goodbye to those tricky schoolhouse rules that no one seems to know.
A Virtual Murder Mystery Game
Red Herring Games offers tons of inexpensive virtual murder mystery games right on its website. Simply download the game, send all of the participants the link, and get playing. Don't forget to come to the meeting in theme!
Channel your inner spy with this game, which has a nifty online version for virtual play. Here's how it works: There are 25 secret agents who can only be identified by their codenames, and you have to identify and make contact with your agents before the other team does, using clues given by the "spymasters." The rounds go by quickly, so it's great for quick video calls with friends.
It's everything you love about the game Scattergories, but online! Set up your game by choosing from topics like TV shows, things that can found in a desk, or even pizza toppings (can you tell I'm hungry?). Create the game and send a link to all the players to join. If you're the last person standing with words to add to the category, you win! No need to share your screen for this one since everything's located on the website.
Matthew McConaughey might not be calling out the numbers, but don't let that stop you from playing. Using the website Bingo Maker, create a virtual game with as many players as you please. They all just have to have the password from you to log into the game. Best part? You can enjoy the game from any device, so if your laptop charger magically went missing before your call, don't sweat it.
Give trivia night a facelift with Quiz Up. The app has a ton of categories to choose from, like Disney, sports, Harry Potter, or video games. Play with anyone worldwide or set up a round with one of your best friends and see who comes out on top. You technically don't need Zoom for this since the magic happens on your phone, but we know the best kind of bragging always happens face-to-face.
DIY Board Games
Always wanted to create your own board game but never had the tools? Same. Meet Tabletop Simulator, which boasts a library of classic thrills like Chess, Poker, Jigsaw Puzzles, and Dominoes while also giving you the option to create your own game through its workshop tool. Just choose a game from their library, or come with your own and invite friends virtually using a handy-dandy link. All the fun happens on the site, so don't stress if your connection is lacking.
Purchase one of this site's party packs (some are on sale right now!) and enjoy a selection of games, ranging from tests of your artistic abilities to fill-in-the-blank queries. It's a lot of fun, and the games can quickly transfer to other gaming devices, like your Playstation or Nintendo Switch. Now all you have to do is make the hard decision of what game to play.
If you have a larger group, Mafia might be the game for you. Developed by Russian psychology students, it's a complicated game that involves a high level of social deduction—but that's the fun of it. You split into two groups, the villagers and the werewolves (so, not the Mafia at all in this version, confusingly), then proceed to sniff out which of your friends are bloodthirsty killers and which are just innocent townspeople.
Growing up, I spent hours filling out Mad Libs to recite to my mother in a fit of giggles. Now, thanks to Quiplash, my childhood memories have grown up. The game asks players to respond to prompts with the wittiest answers they can come up with; your group then votes on the best response, kind of like a group version of Apples to Apples. Up to eight players can play, but one person needs to buy the online game so they can share the fun.
This is a great family game because it's fun for people of all ages. Basically, you're assigned a character, and others have to guess who you are—the rules can differ a little depending on the size of the group and your preferences—using a series of yes or no questions. This is one that always leaves everyone laughing. Make sure no screens are shared, so it's fair gameplay.
Classic card games like Checkers, Go Fish, Crazy Eights, etc. are all available at the click of a mouse on PlayingGames.io. The website allows you to select a game, invite as many people as you please to your link, and get ready to play. Best of all, it's free and requires no spotty screen-sharing.
Divide your Zoom party into two teams, take turns sharing screens, and choose someone each round to be clue-giver. This person will help their team guess the main word using one word from the list at a time, with only two words from the list, or, in typical Taboo fashion, without letting slip any of the words on your list—it's up to you!
Get everyone in your online party to download Psych, and let the fun begin. Each player makes up fake answers to real trivia questions, and it's your job to find out the real answer. It's from the same creators of Heads Up!, so you get an idea of what type of fun is in store. You'll be able to play over your phone for this one, so don't worry if your Zoom connection is lacking.
Your 5th-grade art skills are put to the test in the free multiplayer game Skribbl. Create a private room with your party, choose a word from their list, and try your best to create a masterpiece in 80 seconds. As you sketch, the other players will type what they think you're drawing into the chat. The quicker a person guesses correctly, the more points they get.
Up to four players can try to serve diners in this virtual cooking game. It's a lot like Diner Dash, where you seat, wait on, cook for, and serve all kinds of guests, but with very weird twists. It's chaotic, fun, and will fill the void where dinner parties once stood.
Consider this the online version of the word game Boggle. Players have two to three minutes to find as many words as they can from a selection of 25 words. Whoever ends up with the most words at the end of the game wins! Be careful, though, because if you submit a word that's not in their database, you'll lose 10 points.
There's a reason Among Us has been one of the most popular apps of quarantine. For this one, everyone in your group will need to download the app, and you can create a private game for the whole squad to join. When you enter the game, someone will be designated the "impostor," with a goal of sneakily killing off their fellow crewmates one by one; the surviving players meet up after each kill to discuss their theories and vote for who they think is the killer—who will hopefully be revealed before they get you, too.
Sure, you're still confined to the limits of your computer's webcam, but at least a rowdy game of Charades will get you up and out of your desk chair, probably for the first time all day. Consider this chance to painstakingly act out every single word of a movie title your exercise for the day (or week), and feel free to really get into your acting so your friends and family can see it all the way across the internet. Bonus: This online Charades Generator will come up with all the topics for you, so all you have to do is bring their words to life. Silently, of course.
If you, like me, wasted away countless hours of your childhood trying to stump one of those portable 20 Questions spheres, here's your chance to bring it all rushing back. This online version of the game is just as freakishly smart as that little plastic genius, but I have faith that you and your Zoom party can find a way to beat the A.I., either with a classic animal, vegetable, or mineral, or something from another of the game's preset categories, which include movies, music, and Star Wars topics.
Games You'll Need to Own (That Still Work for Zoom)
The classic party game, Pictionary is perfect for a long-distance dinner party or night in with friends. With Zoom's whiteboard feature, you can play virtually—Bustle has instructions here—or you could play separately and hold up your drawings for the other team.
Sometimes an ice-breaker game is necessary. To avoid discussing the weather for the millionth time or what everyone is binging on Netflix, grab a box of TableTopics. It's a card game with 135 questions where the owner of the card game can read off prompts ranging from simple questions like "What's your favorite song to play in your car?" to more thought-provoking ones like "Would you rather be the best player on a losing team, or the worst player on a winning team?" It's a sweet reminder of how amazing human interaction can be (no shame to our furry friends, though).
This simple word game takes seconds to learn and delivers some serious laughs. Have the judge—in this case, the owner of the game—pick up a card, read the topic, and show the group a random letter. Two members from opposing teams then have to try to be the first to say a word that matches the topic and letter. If the judge likes what you're saying, you get a trophy! Whoever gets the most trophies by the end goes home (or, you know, leaves the virtual call) a winner.
5 Second Rule
In this fast-paced game, the host will pick a card, read the topic, then start the timer. The player then has five seconds to blurt out three things that fit the topic. Prompts include naming celebrities who definitely shouldn't be famous to the tricks you'd teach a dog. It's the perfect game to speed up a slow Zoom call.
Think of it as Family Feud, but without Steve Harvey and his mustache. Split all the players on your call into two teams and pick a host. This timed board game's objective is to write as many items down that apply to a certain category, like things you might find in a home. The more you have that are on the game host's list, the more points you get. You'll want to use Zoom's whiteboard feature again for this game.
The Alphabet Challenge
If you ever went on a long road trip as a kid, odds are you probably played this game. Choose a category like celebrities or fiction books and try to name something for each letter in a certain amount of time—with or without repeating all the previous entries in alphabetical order. You can easily make this into a drinking game and have whoever can't name a new word or forgets one of the previous ones take a drink.
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Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.
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