It’s no secret that we’ve turned to video games to connect, de-stress and unwind in a year when the pandemic has forced us inside.
According to research from Chumba Casino, 81 percent of respondents tried a new online gaming activity during the pandemic, and 90 percent of respondents said that their screen time has increased since March 2024.
Hosting a virtual game night is a great way to connect with friends and family members, especially if you’re easing into social interactions. What should you play? Below we’ve shared our recommendations for the best games to play – for all ages – at your next virtual game night.
This classic game is sure to have caused a few tears in your youth. However, the broad themes and quick thinking required for Monopoly will keep your family entertained, even virtually.
Even better news, Monopoly is a game that you can feel good about: a recent article from Inc. suggests that Monopoly:
- Teaches financial basics
- Forces kids (and calculator-dependent adults) to practice math
- Teaches property ownership
- Teaches kids how loans work and about the powers and perils of debt
- Fosters negotiation skills
- Explains the basics of taxation
- Illustrates economic inequality
If that sounds like we’ve just sucked all the fun out of your game night, don’t worry – there’s a lot of fun laced between those life lessons. Monopoly is available to play for free online.
The Ideal Group: Monopoly is excellent if your game night has tweens, teens and older adults. Older adults will remember the nostalgia of playing this game. At the same time, tweens and teens are old enough to persevere during a Monopoly lull (they’ll also be more inclined to understand the math and logic behind mortgages and loans.)
A murder mystery is a perfect setup for a family game night, and the great news is that Zoom has partnered with the makers of Clue to make the experience virtual. What’s the premise of the game? According to Bustle, “a murder has taken place in a mansion with many decadent rooms, and it’s your job to figure out who did it, where, and with what weapon. Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard or Professor Plum? Lead pipe, revolver or wrench? The right combination is hidden in a secret envelope.”
Hasbro’s Clue app (available for $3.99 on the Apple Store) allows you to match up with strangers or play with your friends in different locations. It’s a unique, intuitive experience that follows the lines of the board game very closely. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t have a chat or video option, but the experts at Bustle recommend running Zoom alongside for a more interactive family game night.
The Ideal Group: This game is excellent for all ages – young children can ‘pair up’ with adults for a more interactive experience, and this game is great for elementary-aged children. We recommend dressing up in character and coordinating your Zoom backgrounds to maximize the fun!
Internet Scrabble has been a popular online game for a long time – but did you know you can host Scrabble night virtually? Scrabble Go is free to download from most app stores, and you can choose to play with friends or strangers. And Scrabble is more than just a great way to spend your free time. According to the gaming experts at Meeple Mountain, Scrabble is an enriching experience with many benefits:
- Scrabble increases vocabulary: playing Scrabble will teach you new words and stretch you to think of words you haven’t considered for years. It’s a fantastic game for schoolchildren and aging adults.
- Scrabble improves focus: in our digital world, we’re more distractible than ever. Scrabble requires you to sit down and focus on one task for hours at a time. It may seem arduous at first, but regular play will improve your concentration.
- Scrabble improves your memory: learning new words and interacting with friends stretches your mind. Scrabble improves your memory for new words – and your overall memory, as well.
Our best tips? For a more interactive virtual game night experience, run Zoom concurrently for plenty of discussions.
The Ideal Group: Scrabble is a great way to bond with (or come to hate) the avid readers in your life. This game is ideal for children in their tweens and older adults. Don’t forget the dictionary!
This epic throwback is the perfect family game night waiting to happen. Combining nostalgia (who doesn’t remember throwing shells at each other virtually growing up?) with some good old-fashioned competition, this is a great game for when you want to switch off and have a great time.
Mario Kart is available to play over the internet if you and your family members have a Nintendo Switch. According to How to Geek, up to twelve people can play at a time in a match.
The Ideal Group: This is a great family game night for teenagers and tech-savvy adults. Just watch out for any flying drinks – Mario Kart can get heated.
Forget needing to download an app or play on one of those sketchy, third-party sites – you can challenge friends and family to a game of Pictionary using Zoom’s ‘whiteboard’ feature. Just click the ‘share screen’ button, choose the ‘whiteboard option,’ and select the tool that allows you to draw. Set a time limit and start drawing!
Playing in technology like Zoom means that you’ll need to send your list of words ahead of time or use an online Pictionary theme generator, like this one from Get Pictionary Ideas. If you’re playing with young children, we recommend putting in some ideas yourself to make sure that everyone understands what they’re supposed to draw. It’s also a great way to extend the activity if you’re a parent!
The Ideal Group: This game’s simple premise makes it fantastic for children and adults of all ages. We recommend pairing very young children with an adult partner, and if your crew gets very competitive, eliminating the timings.
Playing video games is a great way to interact with family and friends in a pandemic-friendly environment. Happy gaming!