How to Plan a Virtual Game Night: 12+ Fun Ideas for Social Distancing

Contributing writer, former long-term care admissions counselor and social worker

Published on:

Virtual game night is a great option as a fun quarantine bucket list item! Thankfully, technology has made it possible to connect virtually and make social distancing a little easier. There are tons of digital gifts, video chat platforms, and websites that can bring loved ones together. 

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If you’re interested in throwing a virtual game night for whatever reason, follow these tips and ideas to ensure it goes off without a glitch. 

How to Plan a Virtual Game Night

Hosting a virtual game night allows you to hang with your friends and family in the comfort of your home (and PJs). Be sure you hit all your bases with these steps! 

Round up participants

You’ll want to determine a group size before making too many other plans. This way, you can choose the best game and video application to use for good results. You can invite your family and friends with a mass text message or email.

Set a date and time 

Setting a time and day will make it more official and something for everyone to look forward to. Include the time you need to explain how to play and get everyone on the same page. I

t’s not as easy to explain things over video or phone calls as in person. Also, be mindful of time change for your friends in other time zones! 

Decide on game(s)

Once you know who is participating, you’ll get an idea of what is appropriate for the age group and what can be done with your group size.

You can stick to one game or plan on doing a few different ones. Either way, it’s best to have an idea ahead of time. 

Tell players what they need 

If you are playing a game that requires players to have a deck of cards or more than one screen to play, let them know ahead of time. If you’re hoping to play a game that revolves around drinking alcoholic beverages, this should be mentioned as well! 

Most games will require more than one screen, one for video chat, and one for playing your game. Players should be notified of all of this as well as what application or website is being used before the day you play so players can prepare by downloading apps and gathering items they need. 

Family-Friendly Virtual Game Night Ideas

Family game night doesn’t have to be canceled, just make it digital! Kids can get in on the fun with the help of parents and these games are fun for the whole family. 

1. Card games 

Play some of the classic games like Go Fish! and Hearts with the website Playing Cards. This website allows you to play games in real-time with friends but you’ll need your video chat or phone call set up elsewhere. 

Pro tip: Each household can have more than one player by using separate phones for game play and an additional screen for video chat. 

2. Interactive online games 

Jackbox Games offers interactive games for all ages. These games cost money but their party packs allow you to purchase more than one online game for a cheaper price. You can get creative with drawing games, guessing games, and even murder mystery games. 

One person runs the purchased game on his or her computer and shares that screen with others in the video chat. This means it requires a video call system like Zoom that allows that person to share the screen. Players will need one screen for video and another to play the game. 

Pro tip: Jackbox is a great digital gift. It’s not only online but can be played in person on other gaming systems as well. 

3. Scattergories

The oldie but the goodie, Scattergories is one of many games that can be played anytime online with friends. To include it in virtual game night, add video chat and you’re all set. 

You can play with friends in special events and daily challenges and track your progress which can keep an ongoing scoreboard for your weekly game nights! 

4. Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is an interactive, fun game where players build a train to travel across the country. The game allows for a pass and play option for up to four live players.

It does not have a place to chat, so another screen is needed to video chat or turn to the trusty telephone for a phone call as you build. 

Virtual Game Night Ideas to Set Up for Your Kids

If your kids are missing their friends, a video chat is one way to ease that. 

5. Bingo

This bingo game, created during the COVID-19 pandemic, is used to bring together any group of people. It can be played live up to 30 players and more than 30 players for a small fee. They offer tons of bingo boards to choose from to amplify the fun! 

Refer to the Virtual Bingo website for detailed directions on how to throw your fun, free bingo game night and use cards that reflect the interests of your kids. Add a video chat and it’s just like they're playing in person. 

6. Charades

Charades is a great option for kids. Parents can create cards with people, places and things to choose from. All you need is a video chat connection through Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype

7. Battleship 

One way to ensure your kid doesn’t cheat in Battleship is to play virtually — there’s no peeking when players are miles apart! If each person has his own Battleship game, it can be played easily over a video call. 

Pro tip: Similarly, other board games can be played if each player has his own at home. Get creative and play Pictionary, Scrabble, or other games! 

8. Hangman

All you need is paper and a writing utensil for a successful hangman match! 

Pro tip: Use a whiteboard instead of paper for a bigger game space and it will be easier to see. 

Virtual Game Nights to Do with Friends or Other Adults

Even when you’re virtual, you might include some snacks and drinks! Virtual game nights with adults have some different language, level of difficulty, and rules kids just cannot participate in. These game ideas make a successful virtual game night possible. 

9. Houseparty 

Houseparty is an app for all phones and other devices where you can video chat with up to 8 other people. Houseparty has in-app games where you only need your one screen to participate. 

The app has a drawing game, the Heads Up game and its spin on Apples to Apples. 

10. QuizUp

QuizUp allows for virtual play with friends with trivia about any topic imaginable. This is a free app where you can challenge your loved ones and win bragging rights for next time you see each other. You’ll need a secondary screen for video chat, but it will provide hours of competitive fun. 

Pro tip: Play teams and come back each week with a running scoreboard! 

11. Scavenger hunt 

A unique idea for virtual game night is to do a scavenger hunt without leaving home. Head to Google to search for some scavenger hunt ideas or create a list with points for each task.

During game night, each household participates and earns points. Of course, you’ll use your video call to prove you find or do each item. 

Some ideas for your scavenger hunt:

  • Do a cartwheel
  • Find your high school yearbook
  • Open a bottle of wine

12. Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity is an adult favorite with many spinoffs since it was created. Now there’s a way to play online completely free. The website allows players to keep their cards private and if you get sick of one deck, you can move onto another.

Pro tip: Create your own Cards Against Humanity game right on the website to play with your friends. 

Be a Virtual Winner

Game night is a staple for many families and friend groups. It brings families and laughs together and makes memories that last a lifetime. Use virtual options to keep the tradition going even in times of social distancing, moving, and sickness! 

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