We’ve been staying home a lot lately. I’m sure you have, too. If you’re looking for a way to have fun with friends and family who don’t live with you, there are tons of games you can play online together over video chat, like Zoom or Facebook Messenger.
This is a compilation of the online games we’ve been playing on Zoom and other conference calling platforms, lately. You’ll be surprised how many fun games there are to play with friends online: both with the people in your own home, or with up to a dozen or more friends or family members, in different households around the world.
All you need to play these games is a mobile device, an internet connection, and in some cases, access to a video call application (like Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype), or a gaming app (like Steam or Switch).
How to Use Zoom to Play Games Online
In case you’ve never gotten onto Zoom before, or played any games during a video call, here is a quick primer to help you figure it out. The first thing you need to do is set up Zoom on your computer.
To do that, go to https://zoom.us/ and click on Sign up, it’s Free! Set up your account. Now you can host a meeting or join a meeting.
- If you’re the one setting up the call, click on Host a Meeting and click “with video on”. A new meeting window will open.
- Now you need to invite people. The easiest way to do this is to click Manage Participants at the bottom of the window. Then click Invite at the bottom of the participant window. You can now send an email to invite people or copy the URL and send it to anyone through chat or email to invite them.
- Participants just need to click on the link you sent them to access the room.
Once everyone is in the call, you can start to play your game. Many of the games below also require access to the gaming software where the game itself is actually being played.
You will be using Zoom or other video chat to converse with the other people who are playing the game with you.
Zoom isn’t the only option for online chats. We often use Facebook Messenger, Google Meet, and Skype. Use whatever you’re comfortable with.
It’s important to note that Zoom only gives you 40 minutes for free! Then it kicks you out.
Games to Play Online with Friends
1. Online Quiz Created By You
You can create a pub quiz right in your own home with Zoom. This has turned out to be one of the funnest games you can play on Zoom. There are hundreds of Zoom Quizzes taking place right now!
Note that you can also make a quiz for any online chat platform. You just need to find one that allows the number of people you want to let in. Zoom has a 40 minute limit to calls on their free plan, so if you plan to make a long quiz, you might want to try a different platform.
How do you do it?
Someone has to be the quiz master. That person will need to select the questions and create a quiz presentation. The questions can center around anything you want. We like to create travel and wine related quiz questions. Here are some free travel quiz questions to use.
As you probably have already figured out, in an online chat it’s hard not to talk over each other, so it can be difficult for everyone to hear the quiz master read off the questions. That’s why a presentation (made simply on Word or as slides on Powerpoint) is essential. Put one question on each slide, which you will display over Zoom for everyone to read.
Make an answer sheet. The easiest way to create an answer sheet is in Google Forms. You can make it so everyone has their own form and it can be submitted directly to you through Google Forms. The form only needs to include a blank line for each question.
Something like this:
Each team can fill out one form and submit it.
If you don’t want to be so “official” you can just have people record their answers on their own paper and tally their own score once you give the answers.
Create teams from the people who will be playing. You can have up to 100 people on a Zoom call, but you probably don’t want 100 unique participants in your quiz. Create teams of 4 or more.
The team members can create their own Whatsapp or Facebook messenger groups in order to communicate between each other on the answers.
Begin the slideshow and give enough time for the teams to come up with and record their answers. You can keep the audio on during the call so all the participants can chat together, but remind them that everyone can hear them, so don’t give away any answers!
At the end, you’ll need to calculate the winners. You can do this by collecting and scoring all of the online forms that were submitted. Of you can display the answers and have each team tally up their own totals. Depends on how strict you want to be.
2. Family Feud
We all love the old Family Feud game. Now you can play it online! There are four game modes to play in, including the one-on-one classic game, fast-money rounds, and tournaments. With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.
>> Download the Family Feud app. Free for Android, Free for Apple iPhone and iPad.
3. Heads Up
If you’ve never played Heads Up in real life, you have to give this game a try. It can be played very simply over a video call. Everyone has to have the Heads Up app. It’s free for Android and $.99 for Apple.
Here’s how you play:
Player 1 picks a category or “pack” from the game interface. Start the game and put the phone up to the computer screen so everyone else can see what’s on the screen, but you can’t. The other players try to get you to guess what is on the card by giving clues.
When you guess one right, you flip the phone upward to go to the next card. The goal is to guess as many as possible in 1 minute. You can play this game with as many people as are on the call. To mix it up a bit, you can play in teams.
4. Drawful 2
My niece’s 16th birthday was coming up and we wanted to do something fun that the whole family could do together. We brainstormed a list of family games you can play on Zoom and Drawful 2 is one of our favorites. Drawful 2 is a fun game.
You can have up to 8 players (and unlimited watchers). You need to have access to the game interface, so you will need a Steam account. All players then use their smartphones to log in to the game room.
Here’s how you play:
Someone starts the game. Then invite other players to the game through Steam or Switch. Once all players enter the room, they also log into the room on their smartphone using the given code on jackbox.tv. A word or phrase is given that all players must draw.
Then the other players will write a new caption for the photo. The real caption, plus all the fake ones, are given as possible options for the players to pick from. The goal is to guess the correct one, for which you receive points. You also want to get others to choose your fake caption, for which you also receive points.
>> Download the Drawful 2 game. Free for WINDOWS / MAC / LINUX. Also available on Nintendo Switch
Along the same vein as Heads Up is a game called Psych. It can be played very simply over a video call. Everyone has to have the Psych app. Then everyone will need to get on a video call together. This is a really fun family game to play online together.
Here’s how you play:
Choose from a variety of fun categories in which each player makes up fake answers to real trivia questions. Can you choose the outrageous real answer among your friends’ fakes? Get points for guessing the right answer, and for each other player you PSYCH! into choosing yours.
6. Board Games Online
My family loves board games. We are often getting together to play games. Being apart, we aren’t able to play like usual. That’s okay though, because there are many, many online board game simulators and games to play.
Some of our favorite board games are Carcassone, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Dominion and Viticulture. All of these games are available to play online with anyone who also owns that game. Catan is a multiplayer board game based around building settlements, managing and spending resources, and trading. It’s available for Windows/MAC, Switch, Tablet and Smartphone.
Ticket to Ride is a multiplayer train board game where you choose routes and attempt to complete the routes before someone else steals it. The more routes you finish, the more points you get.
>> Get Ticket to Ride here ($5)
Carcassonne is a fun game of tiles where you build a world by setting down tiles. You get points by finishing roads, rivers, and by building cities.
>> Play Carcassonne on boardgamearena.com plus lots of other board games. It’s free to play.
>> Play Viticulture on Tabletopia. It’s free to play, but you need to sign up for a free account to do so.
7. Cards Against Formality
If you’re looking for something a little different to play online, try this fun online version of Cards Against Humanity – everyone’s favorite, cringe-worthy card game.
Cards Against Formality is a fun card game, which challenges players to come up with funny answers to a question in order to win rounds. The cards and answers are all pretty raunchy and crazy, so this isn’t a game to play with the little ones.
Here how to play
This online version is a clone of Cards Against Humanity, called Cards Against Formality. It’s an online interface that allows you to play a game with your friends or join a game of strangers. There will be a card master who draws a black card with a phrase on it that you must complete with the white cards that are in your hand. The more cringe-worthy your answer is, the more chance you have of winning the round.
8. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
We’ve been playing this game for years as a party game. It will get your blood pumping as you try to diffuse bombs while working together. The game was really meant to be played in the same room, but it’s completely possible to play it together over a video call.
Here’s how you play
Everyone needs to have the bomb manual, but only the bomb diffuser needs to have a copy of the game. If everyone playing wants to have a turn at diffusing the bomb, they will need to have a copy of the game on their computer.
It’s best if you can print this out and have it in front of you. We spread out all the pages so we can access the information quickly. One person mans the bomb, while the other players use the manual to find the information needed to diffuse the bomb. Each bomb takes about 3 minutes to diffuse, unless you blow up. Each level gets harder and harder. You can watch a demo of the game here.
9. Online Trivia
Trivia is always a fun way to keep your mind active and to test your abilities vs your friends. Scorple has a great online trivia game that’s free to play against your friends. You all have to be members of Scorple (which is free to join). You can find quizzes covering just about any topic imaginable.
Here how to play
One person starts a trivia game and invites their friends on Scorple. Everyone joins the room. The quiz begins! You will be asked to answer questions in the categories. You can form teams and work together. At the end, all of the answers are tallied up to see who won the quiz. It’s like having a pub quiz at home. BYOB!
>> Click here to sign up for Sporcle.
10. Netflix Party
Did you know that you can actually watch a movie with friends over Netflix? It’s free to get the Netflix Party app. Netflix Party is a new way to watch Netflix with your friends online. Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favorite Netflix shows.
>> Click here to download the Netflix Party app.
11. Overcooked 2
Overcooked is probably my favorite video game that I’ve played in the last 10 years. Nick and I play it at home together all the time. It’s a coop game where you help each other cook and serve dishes to beat a hungry horde of Unbread. You chop, fry and bake your way through a bunch of different kitchens to defeat the unbread and save the onion kingdom.
Here’s how you play
One player must own the game, but the other members have to have an account on the same system. It’s available for many different systems, including Windows/MAC on Steam, Switch, Playstation, and Xbox. The main player invites other players to a game.
Nick and I play on Steam, so we can invite other players from Steam to play with us. You can play on the keyboard or an integrated controller, which I find easier. Up to 4 players can play at a time. It’s super fun to play. And even a bit crazy!
Who doesn’t love UNO? We always play this game when we’re with family. It’s one that we all know how to play already, so no one has to learn the rules over again.
You can play UNO online with friends on the app. It allows you to connect anytime, anywhere with friends from around the world. Everyone just needs to have the app installed on their device. It’s available for Android and Apple.
Here’s how to play
Get your friends together in the Fun Room and set up a game with your favorite house rules! Play the new “Discard All” card to completely remove one color from your hand. Or use the popular “7-0” house rule to swap hands with someone else. Turn up the pressure with the “Stacking” rule and watch your friends pile cards onto one hapless player!
>> Download the UNO app. It’s free.
13. Mario Kart Tour
We love Mario Kart, but when everyone isn’t in the same location, that’s pretty much out. Unless….
You can race your friends in Mario Kart Tour, which is available to play on mobile with up to seven players. Everyone needs to have a Nintendo account, but the game is free. You can download it for Android or Apple.
>> Download Mario Kart Tour It’s free.
14. Jackbox Party Games
Drawful 2 is part of the super popular Jackbox Games. There are dozens of games available to play with multiple players in these collections. You can check out what other games they have on Steam. Jackbox Party Pack 7 was just released.
In each party pack are a handful of fun games that can be played with a crowd online. They make it super simple to play together with other people. Some of the best games that have come out from Jackbox are Quiplash, Fibbage, Fakin’ It.
These games are spread out in some of the packs. The best pack to purchase is probably Jackbox Party Pack 3. The games are available to play through Steam and on many other platforms. Each pack runs about $20. You can also buy them in bundles for a bit less.
>> Download Jackbox Party Packs.
15. We Were Here
Another really popular and fun game to play in person is an Escape Room game. Since we can’t do that together right now, we searched out a few similar games that could be played together online.
One such game is called We Were Here. This game is free to play on Steam. It has a microphone function built in, so you don’t even have to be on a call while you’re playing. You can hear the other player through the speakers.
Here’s how to play
You’re stuck in a frozen wasteland in a huge castle. You both need to find your way out of the castle, but you’re in two different locations. You use the walkie talkie that you find in the room to talk to each other.
You have to look around yourself and find clues that can help each other unlock different puzzles, which let you get to different parts of the castle and eventually out the door. It was fun to play, though a bit difficult at first to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing.
Only one person needs to own the game. The other person can be invited to play. The first version of this game is free. There are other versions you can buy later, if you like it.
>> Download We Were Here on Steam.
Houseparty allows for up to eight people to be in a video chat, and it can be downloaded for free on phones via the App Store or Google Play Store. The app is mostly used as a video conferencing space. It splits the screen up, so you can see all of the people in the call.
It also comes with a few games, like “Heads Up!”, Trivia, Chips & Guac, and and Quick Draw, which can be played during the video call. You all need to download the app to participate. Then you can add your friends and start chats from the friends interface.
>> Download Houseparty from the App Store or Google Play Store.
I hope you find some joy in these fun games to play on Zoom and other online conferencing and gaming platforms. These online games can be played during this strange time with your friends and family all over the world to help you stay connected and having fun. We are apart, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun together!