One of the toughest parts of online games are available for you to play with others, even from a distance.lockdowns and for many people has been the inability to see family and friends socially as you normally might. Luckily, a number of
Whether you’re looking for old-school favorites,, escape rooms or hard-core , there’s likely a virtual option for you, as people during . (Watching together through extensions like and have also become popular ways to hang out virtually.) Here are some of the best online gaming options available, whatever experience you’re looking for.
For me, Jackbox Games is the holy grail of social distance gaming: The party games are incredibly simple to learn but are still very entertaining, and it’s also easy to stream or screen-share games from one device to a group. Everyone plays through a web browser on their phones, so no apps or consoles are needed. You can even mirror your Android or iOS device to your TV.
Here’s how it works: One person has to purchase either one of six Jackbox Party Packs, or one or more individual games, on Steam (for PC, Mac and Linux). The packs contain five games, and usually cost $25 each, but are currently on sale for $12. The packs are also available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and other devices.
After purchasing, you can hop on a video chat through Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts or wherever you prefer, start the game on your laptop, and use the screen-share option so that all the other players on the call can see the screen too. As mentioned, everyone plays along on their mobile device by using a browser and going to Jackbox.tv, where you’ll be asked to enter a room code.
Other options include using Steam Remote Play Together, Discord screen sharing, sharing through your gaming console, or just setting up a webcam in front of your TV. Jackbox provides information on how to stream its games, too.
Each pack includes a variety of different games that might ask you to answer trivia questions, draw weird doodles or write the best joke. The games are light and humorous, and include clear instructions, so they’re easy for the most novice players to pick up.
The Escape Game
Put your puzzle-solving skills to the test with a virtual escape room. Try to solve all of the puzzles and follow the clues to escape the computerized room before time is up, as you would in the real-world version.
One option for ages 12 and up is TEG Unlocked: The Heist from The Escape Game. In the two-part game for one to four players, you’ll work as a secret agent trying to thwart a suspected art thief. Each part costs $10, or $17 for the bundle.
If you’re looking for a more kid-friendly choice, there’s a free Harry Potter-themed escape room created by Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, Pennsylvania, using Google Docs.
Tabletopia/Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET
If you’re looking to play traditional tabletop board games online, check out Tabletopia, which calls itself an “online arena” for playing more than 900 board games the same way you would in real life. You can play on a desktop browser for Mac or Windows, or download the platform on Steam, the App Store or the Google Play Store.
You’ll find classics like chess and Texas Hold ‘Em, or more in-depth options like Scythe and Clans of Caledonia. Start your own game with friends, or join a game in progress with open seats.
You can play some games for free with the bronze package, or upgrade to the silver ($4.99 a month) or gold ($9.99 a month) package to access premium games.
Another similar option is Tabletop Simulator, which includes base games like chess, poker, dominoes, Mahjong and jigsaw puzzles. Create your own original games on the platform, as well as play ones that were created by others.
You’ll see some familiar titles in here, but note that most of those were created by other users, as opposed to actual game developers. You can buy Tabletop Simulator on Steam for Windows and Mac for $20, and can then share your screen to play with friends.
Houseparty is a video chat app owned by Fortnite developer Epic Games that lets you play popular games like trivia and Heads Up with friends online. While the app is free to download, you do have to pay for some of the games, typically $1-$3. Up to eight people can join a video chat “room” at once and play games together.
Just a warning: There have been rumors that the app has enabled Netflix account hacks with loose security protocols. The company said it has not been breached or had any data exposed, however, and offered a $1 million reward for proof of the problem, claiming it’s more likely tied to reusing login credentials and passwords.
Houseparty is available for iOS, Android, MacOS and Chrome.
You may already be familiar with popular mobile games that you can play with friends anytime. Fortnite, Words with Friends 2, Scrabble, Uno & Friends and Draw Something are all great options for simple games that let you keep in touch and sneak in a turn when you have time throughout the day.
If you’re mostly playing solo, you might want to check out a mobile gaming subscription service. Apple Arcade has a library of more than 100 original games including nostalgic favorites Pac-Man Party Royale and Frogger in Toytown, along with new hits such as Crossy Road Castle and Ultimate Rivals: The Rink. For $4.99 a month, you can play across iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac and Apple TV devices.
Of course, there’s always the option to go as old-school as possible in your virtual gaming: You can find free online versions of some classics like Battleship. You can also work on a crossword puzzle with friends through the Washington Post. Tabletop Simulator, mentioned above, also includes games like chess, poker, dominoes and jigsaw puzzles that you can play with friends if you both buy the platform.