A selection of games to bring fun and laughter to any Zoom group chat

Michelle Taylor 29 September 2021
Promo for Jackbox Games

The king of shared games: Jackbox Games. Photo: Jackbox Games.

Meetings on video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and Google Meet as we juggle work, homeschooling and staying connected with family and friends have become an unavoidable part of our week.

But it doesn’t have to be constant tedium and awkward silences. A few good games and ensuing laughter can brighten any online video interaction.

Here are some games for teens, adults and Friday afternoon work fun that we have tested and highly recommend. Most of them require the person hosting the meeting to have the game on their laptop and then sharing their screen.

Jackbox

This fabulous, slick series of games tops my list even though it’s the only one here that costs money. Only one person in the video meeting needs to own any Jackbox games for the group to benefit from the hours of hilarity it provides.

Jackbox’s three most popular games – Fibbage, Quiplash and Drawful – are each available as a standalone purchase for between $7 and $10. Party packs that include five games each start at $25.

My family owns every single party pack and we play them weekly. To play on Zoom, the host needs to have Jackbox downloaded on their laptop. They will share their screen so other players can see the game while they play on their phones.

It accommodates six to eight people, but more can join as an audience.

Tip: Go to settings and turn on the family friendly filter to avoid unwanted innuendos.

Visit Jackbox Games.

Screenshot from Gartic Phone game

Things can get lost in translation while playing Gartic Phone. Image: Supplied.

Gartic Phone

An old-fashioned concept, this telephone game is an amusing take on Chinese whispers. We have had family members weep with laughter at the results. Free to play and with lots of variations, one player goes to the website and presses ‘play’, then presses ‘invite’ to get a link they can text to all other players. Then let the fun begin.

It accommodates up to 30 players.

Visit Gartic Phone.

Among Us

Played via a free app that can be download from your phone’s app store, Among Us is a deduction game. Crewmates scurry around a map, completing tasks and trying to avoid being killed by the imposter among their number who is hunting them down. Each time a crewmate is killed off, the survivors gather to vote on who they think the imposter is.

Playing Among Us as a group does not require Zoom, but it makes for more fun. One player sets up a game for everyone else by distributing a code. If you haven’t got a teenager available to set up an online multiplayer game for your group, read this simple how-to.

Tips: Don’t scream when you get killed! Also, turn your volume off – if you are the imposter, your distinctive sound is a dead giveaway.

Accommodates four to 15 players in the latest app update.

Visit your app store to download.

Game of Things

A favourite during our family reunions, Game of Things is going to keep you laughing. This is a list/deduction game where a reader selects a card and reads it – for example, ‘Things that are harder than they look.’

Players submit anonymous answers and then try to guess who wrote what.

This game accommodates many players.

Visit Game of Things.

Screenshot from game Psyche

The game of Psych. Image: Munkyfun.

Psych

This game is another free app download. Play together by sharing a code with other players. Come up with fake answers to real trivia questions and see if you can garner the most votes. Score points for spotting the accurate answer among the fakes.

Accommodates many players.

Visit your app store to download.

Codenames

Two opposing spymasters attempt to be the first to collect all their code words by giving hints to their teammates. Create a room and send the link to participants.

Accommodates a lot of players.

Visit Codenames.

Games for young families

While most of the games listed above can be played with young families, here are some simpler games to try.

Scavenger hunts

There are plenty online. One example is where the host screen shares a list and gives families a time limit to find items.

Screenshot from Teambuilding game

Try this scavenger hunt from Teambuilding. Image: Teambuilding.

Pictionary

This one is a classic. Have the host set up a private room and share the link with participants.

Accommodates many players.

Visit Drawsize to play Pictionary.

I Spy

Another classic game, I accessed it via Von Muller’s YouTube channel.

Zoom In

In this game you have to guess the zoomed-in object.

Visit it’sNNAU’s YouTube channel to play.

Games to play with grandparents and less tech-savvy groups

Scattergories

In this online version of the classic game, the host will screen-share the list of 12 categories and the letter you have to use to start each word on the list. Players can use paper and pencil.

Tip: change the time limit to three minutes. Two is not long enough.

Visit Swellgarfo to play Scattergories.

Taboo

This game is chaotic with lots of calling out, but it is still fun. Your online meeting host shares their screen. The first guesser must turn away from the screen while the other players are clue givers. The card onscreen displays the word the guesser needs to guess, followed by five words that clue-givers must not use. How many words can the guesser discover in 60 seconds?

Visit Playtaboo.

20 questions

Super simple, yet fun and it works well over Zoom. Take turns thinking of something such as a person, place or thing, and the other players try to guess what it is within 20 questions.

Charades

The link below takes you to a charades word generator. When we played this with grandparents, most of us used the generator on our phones and acted out the words. When it was my parents’ turn, it was a little different. They do not have a second smart device so they just made up charades words in their head to act out for us. It worked a treat and we laughed way more than we acted.

Visit Play Charades to get a charades word generator.

Honourable mentions

Sporcle Quizzes

There are so many varieties of puzzles and quizzes on Sporcle. Sign up for a free account and share your screen for great fun.

London Eye over the River Thames

Travel the world, virtually. Photo: Kazuri Photography.

Travel the world together

YouTube has many virtual tour options, including guided tours, beautiful walks and scenic locations.

Painting and drawing tutorials

Visit PaintyKat’s YouTube channel to learn to paint a blooming spring landscape.

I hope you have as much fun playing these games as I do!


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