Online games: A great way to stay in touch with family

There’s no doubt about it: the pandemic has changed everyone’s lives around the world. With less freedom to visit your loved ones back home or even to visit friends locally, it is easy to lose touch with people.

Sure, there are ten apps on your phone that can instantly connect you via video with someone 6,000 miles away.

But there are often some relationships that are better to cultivate (or are easier to foster) through an activity. In the past, that may have included going to have a meal, or playing a game of catch or checkers. Those activities, which previously may not have seemed particularly significant, are now sorely missed.

But all is not lost. With online and Zoom culture taking over business and personal life, a number of fun games have popped up that allow you to make or deepen connections with the person on the other end of the device. Loads of non face-to-face games have also become popular.

Family playing online games together

Here are a number of ways to stay connected to people you miss in a fun way.


Jackbox Games

What you need to get started:

  • Computer with video conferencing capability
  • Good internet connection (50 MB download speed is sufficient)
  • Smartphone
  • Number of players: 2-8 (but some have additional audience participation)

Cost:

These are sold as individual games, “Party Packs” or “Bundles.” Prices for each game start from $6.99 and go up from there. “Party Packs” start at $9.99. Once games are purchased, players do not pay for participating. All prices listed are based on the U.S. store.

URL:

jackboxgames.com

How it works:

There are a host of multi-player games with Jackbox that work through your video call software (like Zoom or Google Hangouts), with some involving your smartphone as a controller.


One person (who they call the “VIP”) will be required to establish an account and purchase the game(s).

Once the game has been decided, all players go to a website where a “Room Code” will be required to enter (which your “VIP” will supply you with).

Depending on what game you are playing, commands and results will be on your computer and your entries to challenges will be done through your smartphone.

Don’t miss:

One of the best Jackboxgames is “Quiplash,” which is a game of “wits and wittiness.” Each group is given a statement or question which requires each player to enter a response into their smartphone. Once everyone answers, the group will vote on the best (and sometimes most ridiculous) anonymous answers. Through a number of rounds, points are awarded. In the end, a champion is crowned. Recently, family all over the world had a blast with this game and all the nutty answers. What is also great is you can hear and see everyone’s reactions while you are playing. Other great Jackbox titles include Fibbage XL, Drawful and Blather ‘Round.

Chess.com

What you need to get started:

  • Computer or smartphone
  • Mobile data or home internet connection
  • Number of players: 2

Cost:

Free

URL:

chess.com

How it works:

Chess dates back almost 1,500 years, with the earliest mention of it coming from India. The classic game has seen recent popularity, with a number of online playing options available. Chess.com is easy to find, hassle-free options and an easy interface on tablet, phone or computer. Connecting with your friends and family is easy and only requires them to create an account, where they can be searched for when you want to challenge them for a game.

Since you may be in different timezones (and have differing amounts of free time) choosing the style of play is quite flexible. The main parameter to choose is the “Game Clock.” This defines how long your opponent has before they must make their next move. You can choose a certain number of minutes for a speedy game or go with a more slow-paced game that allows three days (or more if you like) between moves. Playing will also provide you with an official rating, so when you don’t have someone to play against, just put yourself out there to the worldwide community and find someone who has a similar ability level. You can also take online lessons from the pros, watch videos of the greats playing and more.

Scavenger Hunt (Kid Friendly!)

What you need to get started:

  • Computer or smartphone
  • Video conferencing (Zoom, Google Hangouts or other)
  • Mobile data or home internet connection
  • Number of players: 2+

Cost:

Free

URL:

none

How it works:

With a game of Scavenger Hunt, you only need your video conferencing account, a leader and a number of scavengers. The host simply calls out an item the scavengers need to hunt for around the house. Points can be given for how quickly the scavenger locates the items, with the game going multiple rounds. In the end, a champion can be crowned (or not, to minimize the cry-factor).