Illustration of the online party games Skibbl.io
Skribbl.io is perfect for a large amount of socially distanced friends. (Illustration by Sezi Kaya, Parsons School of Design)

5 Online Party Games That Are Perfect for Socially Distanced Playing

Staying in touch via the internet doesn’t have to be boring. These fun online games will keep that friendship spark going strong.

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Illustration of the online party games Skibbl.io

Staying in touch via the internet doesn’t have to be boring. These fun online games will keep that friendship spark going strong.

If there’s one thing that has become the norm over the past few months, it’s seeing friends via online video more often than in person. This likely won’t change for the foreseeable future, but online friendship doesn’t have to be droll. During quarantine, my friends and I have gotten together a number of times — whether it be on Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Discord. Getting together used to mean a party with Smash brackets, pizza and swimming. Now, we’ve taken to playing a number of online party games together instead.

1. Skribbl.io

Skribbl.io is probably the online party game that I’ve played the most over quarantine. Out of the games on this list, it’s also probably the easiest to understand. The game is essentially an online Pictionary. Up to 12 people can play in a room, and players take turns drawing.

Unlike real-life Pictionary, the drawer has three choices that they can choose from to draw. Players get a variable number of points. Those who answer quicker earn more points than those who answer later on. Likewise, the drawer gets more points the faster their drawing can be understood and correctly guessed.

More realistic and artistic drawings sometimes take longer for players to guess than simple stick figure drawings. That means skribbl.io is the perfect opportunity to explore your drawing skills without feeling the pressure to be good at the task. Skribbl.io is a game for everyone, and you can even make custom words to draw.

2. Jackbox Games

The online party games developed by Jackbox Games have been around for a while and are playable on a variety of devices, including PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch. Better yet, they’re also playable on mobile devices.

The games do cost money, but only one person needs to have them for everyone else to join in on the fun. Games include Quiplash, where you come up with funny answers to questions for other players to vote on, and Trivia Murder Party, where the losers of each round are slowly killed off.

When you and your friends are virtually connected, have the person who has the games stream the game that’s going on, while everyone else joins in on the fun through their phone, laptop or tablet.

3. Spyfall

There’s nothing quite like a good old spy game to ramp up everyone’s competitive spirit. Spyfall is an online party game that’s best for a large group. Each round of the game is randomly set in a different location — with a crusader army, an ocean liner or a beach.

One person is assigned as the spy, but has no idea of the setting. Meanwhile, everyone else is aware of the spy’s location and is randomly assigned a role pertaining to the locale. For example, if they are in a hotel, then possible role assignments could be hotel guest, hotel clerk or housekeeper.

Players take turns asking each other questions. The goal is for everyone else to figure out who the spy is before the spy figures out what the location is.

The ridiculous questions and answers that can result from Spyfall can only bring you and your friends closer together.

4. Cards Against Humanity

You knew this one was coming up! The physical Cards Against Humanity game came out almost 10 years ago, and it’s still as popular as ever. Fortunately, for those who can’t get together in person to play with the physical cards, there are plenty of knock-off versions of Cards Against Humanity online.

If you’re not aware, Cards Against Humanity is a game heavily influenced by Apples to Apples, although its content is much more crass, inappropriate and politically incorrect. It’s definitely not a game for everyone, but it is a way for people to bond over topics and conversations that would normally be considered off-limits.

5. Heads Up

Heads Up is a game usually played in person, but with video chat, it can also be an online party game. Heads Up involves one person trying to guess a word based on the clues that the other players are shouting or acting out. It’s a high energy, chaotic game, but it gets everyone in on the action. Playing the game forces you to think on your feet regardless of if you are the guesser or not.

Although Heads Up costs money on the app store, there is a different version called Charades! that is completely free. The play format of Charades! is similar, if not identical, to Heads Up

Fun online games aren’t just limited to these options. There are all kinds of creative measures that can turn traditional games into online party games, like puzzles, Scrabble, crosswords and more. It can even be fun to come up with a completely new game to play virtually, like some sort of role-playing game.

With quarantine measures still in place in most areas, and many colleges canceling in-person classes, it can be hard to keep in touch with friend groups and even harder to make new friends. But online games can be an excellent ice breaker if you run out of things to say or if you’re just bored. Plus, they keep the friendship spark going strong. Exciting gameplay will only incentivize future virtual get-togethers for more games to be played and memories to be made.

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