Just because we are practicing social distancing doesn’t mean we have to forego game nights. In fact, isolation has led to a massive boom in online gaming and people using their imagination to bring games to life via Zoom and other platforms.

We’ve compiled the best apps to use to host a games night and the best games to play! So, open up a bottle of wine, send your mates an invite and get playing!

Book in a date

The first thing you will have to do is pick a night! Chances are everyone’s social calendars are pretty free right now, so this should be easy! Once the date is set, send out an e-invite so no one forgets.

Pick an app

There are a few popular video conferencing tools that have really made game night and virtual social hang outs much more tolerable. Here are our favourites!

HouseParty: This video chat service is available across desktop and mobile and allows you to chat with up to eight devices at once! It is also FREE – we like that a lot!! It also comes with its own games (also free!) … more on that below.

Zoom: By now all those working from home have had at least one or two Zoom meetings because it is the video chatting software of choice. It allows 100 devices in a meeting and the first 40 minutes are free! To extend the call you will have to opt for a subscription – running at $14.99 per month. If you plan on hosting multiple game nights it might be worth it!

Facetime: If you and your friends all have iPhones, iPads and/or MacBooks, the built-in video chatting service should be your default. It allows up to 32 devices and there are no time limits!

Facebook Messenger: Some people may not know this, but Facebook has the option to turn any chat into a video call, so long as everyone on the receiving end has camera, otherwise they would just join as a normal call. The great news about this feature is that there is no limit on the number of participants and there is no time limit. All you need is a Facebook account and you are good to go!

WhatsApp: This popular app has just extending the limit of participants to eight devices and, as always, there is no time limit. As long as everyone in your group has the app, these calls are free! Considering the popularity of this texting service, we wouldn’t be surprised if you all already have it downloaded on your phone. If you want to use your computer, you can download it for free as long as you already have an account.

Skype: This one is a classic! In light of the current situation, Skype has opted for a free version of their service – Meet Now. The feature works directly in the browser, so you don’t need to download anything, and your unique link is valid for 30 days It also allows for up to 50 devices on a call.

Google Hangout: Google has a great free service that allows up to 10 devices to join a call and it can be used on a desktop, phone or tablet. However, there is a major downside ,it only allows  one person on the main screen at once, unlike the tile layout on HouseParty or Zoom.

Now for the games!

If there are a few people in your group that struggle with technology opt for a game that is easy for everyone.

Simple games

The classic Charades needs no introduction. To make things easy, use an online word generator to help with movie, book, celebrity, tv show or song ideas.

Another great option is Would You Rather. This game can be tailored to all ages and there are loads of resources online to help find questions.

If you use the HouseParty app, you’ll notice there are a few games already built into the app. Heads Up!, Trivia, Chips and Guac, and Quick Draw! are all free to use and seamlessly integrated.

Games for the more tech-savvy

Codenames is a word game that is quite challenging but loads of fun! You need two groups with one spymaster per group. The spymasters will give one-word clues that point to multiple words on the table, or desktop. Teammates try to guess the words while avoiding those that belong to the opposite team, neutral cards and the game-ending card. For a video tutorial, click here. There is a scaled down version online for free. Create your personalised link and send it to your friends!

Cards Against Humanity has close to 5 stars with over 46,849 reviews on Amazon. People either love it or hate it – but by the looks of reviews, most people love it. The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card. For a video tutorial, click here. There is a knock-off version online you can play – it is virtually the same and very easy to use – click here.

Ones for the digital natives

Catan is a great strategy board game that offers a different journey each time you play. In the game, you and the other players are adventurous settlers seeking to take the rich island of Catan. You and the other players have the objective of being the first settler to reach 10 points, you do this by trading your resources to build roads, settlements, and cities or by buying development cards. You never know when the robber might steal some of your precious resources though! The rules are a bit complicated at first but worth it for a night of fun! Due to the popularity of the game during the pandemic, the Free Match with random people has been disabled but you can still play with 3 friends for free. You can choose to download on your desktop, phone or tablet or can play on Steam.

Secret Hitler is quite complicated but once you get the rules down pat it is a really fun time – and it shows as it has a 4.9/5 star rating on Amazon with over 2,100 reviews.  In the game, players are secretly divided into two teams – liberals and fascists. Known only to each other, the fascists coordinate to sow distrust in order to get Hitler in power. The liberals must find and stop him before it is too late! The free version can be found here.

Don’t forget the snacks and drinks!

With any good game night, you want to make sure you have plenty of snacks and drinks to enjoy.

For easy drinking, try the Denmark Heritage Cider Company. They have loads of specials on their cases at the moment and offer free shipping Australia wide.

Another option for the wine lovers would be a beautiful Riesling! Try a bottle of –  it is divine – especially with fresh chips to munch on during the game.

For red wine lovers, try Brave New Wine El Rojo. It is a blend of Shiraz, Tempranillo and Graciano, and it really hits the spot. The nose is big and bold – it might just whisk you away to the streets of Spain! The funky label will also get you in the mood for an epic night of remote fun.

For those hoping for something a bit stronger, Limeburners Distillery has an excellent single malt whiskey! Get the gift pack to sample some of their most popular ones.


Featured Image from Twitter