Social Distanced Gaming

I’m just writing this for families that, like mine are separated by distance, and are looking for some ways to be able to socially interact together.

When getting together with my extended family, we’ve always had a blast playing board games and video games together. Given the current state of social distancing and the miles we are away from each other, it has effectively become impossible to see each other in person.

Like others, a couple of months ago I decided to try setting up some Jackbox games over video conferencing to be able to play some games together. This works by using a video conferencing application that allows you to share your screen or application so that other’s can see. What makes Jackbox Games work so well is that everybody has control through their phone, so regardless of location we can all get our phone, tablet, or computer and have a device to control the game.

Initially we were having audio problems including echos. I’ll be honest, this was because I was trying to be too fancy. Also, the video application I was using was not playing well with Safari, so I needed to switch over to Google Chrome and use Google Meet for it to share the screen nicely.

Below are a few notes that might help get you started:

  • I believe Google Meet is now free, so give it a try
  • If Google Meet behaves oddly in your browser of choice, give Google Chrome a try
  • Use Google Calendar (or another shared calendaring system) to schedule game times
  • Get one (or more) versions of Jackbox Games to play… personally I bought them on steam
  • When you load the Jackbox Games, set your audio volume to about 50%, this will make it easier to talk with others
  • When you are ready to play the game, make sure to share your screen or better, just the application
  • Most importantly, have fun!

We have found with a party of 8 players, which is the max for most games, it takes about twenty minutes per game. A little over an hour will get you three games. We’ve found that we mix the games up week to week, and sometimes we let the kids choose, sometimes the parents, and sometimes we put it up for a vote.

The games that we’ve all had the most fun with are the creative games. The games with drawing in them, and Quiplash, have definitely been favorites. The games that have a lot of talking and no written words on the screen have been the hardest to play. Also, we’ve just avoided Fibbage because it does require lying and reading the room.

Have fun everybody, and keep looking for new ways to keep your family together!

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