People are rigging up makeshift game nights using video chat, online games and cameras suspended from the chandelier

Technology

Even people who rarely play games online are now using them to relax and connect with friends and family across town or the country.

“In this strange time that we’re all experiencing of physical distancing, there has never been a better time,” said Tami Bhaumik, head of marketing and digital civility at the game creation platform Roblox.

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I’ve gotten emails from folks asking me how to make their regularly scheduled poker nights virtual and how to play chess against friends. One person even went so far as to suspend an iPod Touch from a chandelier to get a shot of a Trivial Pursuit board for a Zoom game night.

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Here are some other ways people are connecting over games during social distancing.

Poker Stars

Make it a virtual poker night with Poker Stars, a website that lets you host private games with friends. Just sign up and share an invitation code with friends and they can join your table for some “fun money” action.

Viewer John Wilson of Long Beach told me the site works for him. “We are a bunch of elderly guys … who have been playing a weekly poker game for over 40 years now,” Wilson said in an email. He even invited me to his game.

Roblox 

Roblox is a popular with kids 9 to 12.

“We are truly seeing some of our highest numbers,” said Bhaumik over a Skype interview.

The platform hosts digital games other people (mostly kids) create. Parents can control who kids can chat with.

“We have thousands of moderators that are reviewing and for every video, audio, text upload that is there, so it is a very, very safe experience,” explained Bhaumik.

Not content just for in-game chat, kids are playing side by side, virtually – using FaceTime to hang out and audio chat while they play.

Cards Against Humanity 

For the adults, Cards Against Humanity is a popular party game with fill in the blank questions that produce hilarious answers.

You can recreate the experience online with friends through a website called PlayingCards.io. There, they have a similar game called Remote Insensitivity.

If you’ve never played before, just be prepared for some, shall we say, interesting answers…

Houseparty 

Houseparty is a group video chat app that also has several built in games.

There’s a word association game called Chips and Guac, a Pictionary-like game called Quick Draw and a Heads-Up game – you know, the one you see Ellen playing and everyone in line at Disneyland (those were the days).

Mario Kart Tour 

Nintendo’s racing game Mario Kart Tour lets you race with up to 7 friends located anywhere in the world.

Scrabble Go

Personally, I’ve been playing a new app called Scrabble Go. Think Words with Friends, but officially licensed. It’s a slick take on the classic board game that lets you play against random online opponents or real life friends.

Other Recommendations

Words with Friends, Jackbox, Song Pop 2, Chess and Pictionary-style games.

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