Coronavirus has taken a toll in 2020, however one thing it hasn’t taken is our ability to have a laugh with our friends, even though it has meant moving from the physical to the virtual get-together. But like any get-together, some nights prove better than others. Below, we’ll be taking you through the planning, preparation and presentation of the perfect virtual games night with the best games on Zoom in your back pocket.
It’s much easier, and honestly a lot more fun, than it may sound.
How to plan a virtual games night?
Select your players
If you have a large social group this will be the most difficult step but - and we cannot stress this enough - keep your group small! Depending on which games you’re planning to play, you’ll want a minimum of four attendees (including yourself) and a maximum of 10. If you invite more than 10 virtual guests things have a habit of deteriorating into a confusing mess of people shouting and once order is lost, it’s hard to restore. Also, at the risk of sounding obvious, try to invite people that actually get along. The last thing anyone needs right now is more drama.
Make an itinerary
Even a virtual party needs some semblance of a spine. A loose structure will help add some shape to the evening and eliminate any uncertainty between one game ending and the next beginning. If this is your first virtual games night with a new group, decide and share the itinerary ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect. The itinerary can be loose, of course (first game at 8, pre-ordered letterbox cocktails at 9 and a quiz at 10) but there has to at least be some plan in place.
Get on the same page
If there are any members of your party that are new to the video conferencing software or multiplayer app you’ll be using, spend some time with them in the days before the big night going through the application and how it works. It will save you dozens of awkward silences.
Choosing the games
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The games you select are obviously going to depend on the crowd you keep and the mood you’re trying to cultivate. In the wake of the first lockdown, there has been a spate of great games that have been released or rediscovered, all of which can be played easily using video conferencing software. So, let’s run through a few of the more popular options. And if you want even more ideas, try googling “what games can we play on zoom” and you’ll probably be overwhelmed by the options.
The virtual pub quiz
How do you play virtual trivia with friends? Simple. There are dozens of websites that have been set up in the last six months to help you do just that. However, if you really want to make your quiz night special, we’d recommend putting a little more effort in and doing it all yourself. The ‘share screen’ button on Zoom allows for any number of quirky picture and video-based rounds and there’s always the option of having each player do their own round.
The old classics
There are hundreds of classic dinner party games that you’d have thought were created with remote play in mind. Charades, for example, is even funnier on the big screen. Read My Lips, meanwhile, is even easier to put together, as you can simply turn off your microphone when it’s your turn.
Over the last 10 years, Jackbox is a company that has essentially monopolised the concept of virtual party games. There are currently 7 collections of games, each packed full of mini-games that can be played by anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection. From games that see you scribing your own hilarious raps, to crazy “whodunnit” mysteries and everything in-between, there’s even a game that’s based around designing T-shirts. Whatever you choose though, they are definitely the kind of games that go down best with a few cocktails.
Building the cocktail menu
What’s a game night without a good selection of drinks? Your virtual games night could also be a virtual cocktail party in disguise, as long as you have the right ingredients and the right friends. Of course, at a ‘conventional’ party it’s easy to ensure everyone is enjoying the same drinks, as the host is responsible for making them.
On a virtual games night, the rise in ready to drink letterbox cocktails has meant it’s never been easier to sync your drinks and turn an otherwise rather dry virtual gathering into a really enjoyable occasion. Simply have all the ready to drink cocktails delivered to each invitee and pair each cocktail with a different game or a different part of the evening. You might even decide to create a virtual dinner party, complete with a drink pairing for every course.
As a general rule, the type of cocktail should depend on the type of party and the guests, of course. But to finish off our guide into the world of virtual party planning, here are a few classic cocktail party tips you might want to consider:-
- Keep things basic and not too rich and creamy. You want the focus to be on the games and each other, the drinks are just the icing on the cake. Plus, you have no way of knowing how proficient your guests are at following complicated instructions.
- Build a bespoke box of pre-made cocktails and have them dispatched to each invitee if you really want to cut down on the complications.
- If you’re making them from scratch, don’t scrimp on the good-quality spirits! A cocktail is only as good as its base ingredients and you’ll be able to taste that bargain-basement rum, no matter how much fruit you try to cover it with.
- Don’t choose cocktails that are too strong. A good virtual games night should last well into the wee hours and you don’t want everyone swinging from the rafters before midnight!
- Never forget the teetotallers! Indeed, there are dozens of delicious alcohol-free cocktails out there that are every bit as complex and exciting as full-strength alcoholic drinks.
There is never going to be a real replacement for gathering together with your loved ones and having a right old knees-up. But for now, virtual games nights and cocktail nights are a great way to stay connected