Here we are, folks. Still indoors. Still cowering from an invisible enemy. Still trapped in this extremely strange emotional state that fluctuates between utter despondency and a calm sense of acceptance. Still caught between feeling like it’s kind of nice to have some time to just hang out indoors, and desperately longing for human contact. The quarantine is still going, and it shows no signs of letting up — there’s talk of it being extended for another two weeks at the end of April.
So what to do? We’ve read all the COVID-related headlines. We’ve listened to all the albums that are cool to listen to. We’ve made it to the very end of Netflix, watching all the hip-to-watch recommendations as well as forgotten Sinbad comedies from the 90s that literally nobody cares about (except for Sinbad, probably). We’ve even scoured through Argentine Youtube channels in search of entertainment, only to find a disturbing amount of makeup tutorials and commentary videos set to Minecraft footage. So now what?
If you’re anything like us, the worst part of all of this — beyond the existential dread and looming possibility of global economic collapse — has been the social isolation of it. For an extrovert, this is just about the worst case scenario; those of us who get our energy from hanging out with people are feeling like we’re just about ready to lose our minds right now. Thankfully, the miracle of technology allows us to feel like we’re almost sort of hanging out but not really! I’m not talking about Zoom calls — although those can always be incorporated into the mix — instead, I’m talking about the wonderful world of online gaming.
If you’re not much of a gamer, that’s fine! We’re not talking about the extremely complicated, extremely involved games that die-hards of the medium will swear by. Instead, we’re talking about simple apps or browser games that emphasize the social aspect of gaming, where it really does feel like having some silly fun while spending time with friends. We’ve put together a brief list of some free online multiplayer games that you can use to feel a little closer to the peeps you’re isolated from right now!
To me, there’s nothing more fun than watching a person who is not visually inclined try to put together a drawing to communicate an image, feeling, or concept. That’s, of course, half of the fun of games like “Pictionary”– it’s not so much about drawing masterpieces but laughing at your friends’ feeble attempts to have you guess the word “seahorse.” Skribbl.io is a simple website with a simple interface that allows you to indulge in exactly that. Create a private room, send the links out, and then try to guess each others’ weird scribbles. It’s an addictive game I’ve already wasted an enormous amount of hours to, and yet I’m not even close to being tired of it. Play it here.
Dominion is the definition of a “habit-forming” game; if it is in your interests to remain productive during this pandemic, maybe skip this one. But if you’re up for getting addicted to a thrilling experience, by all means, dive in! Dominion is a game of medieval conquests, but it’s more like a strategy game than anything that immediately makes you think of swords and shields. Each player starts with a deck of 10 cards: three Estates (“victory” cards) and seven Coppers (“treasure” cards that serve almost like an in-game currency). The player with the most “victory” cards at the end of each round wins. Even though the rules are simple, the game will quickly spiral into complex strategic decision-making, which is what makes Dominion so compelling. Round up your friends and play a game online here.
Town of Salem
One of my favorite subgenres of party games is those that involve lying to people. Manipulating decisions via deceit using nothing but my own borderline sociopathic tendencies. If you’ve ever played games like Mafia or Werewolf, then you understand the basic concept of the “game of deception,” which is what Town of Salem is all about. This is a great game for getting increasingly frustrated at your friends for being bold-faced liars and slowly, but surely, chipping away at the very foundation of your friendships. If you don’t mind irrevocably damaging the trust between you and your buddies, then check out the awesome Town of Salem here.
Evil Apples vs. Humanity
There’s just something incredibly satisfying about saying horrible things with the full knowledge that you’re not actually going to hurt anybody. That’s the idea behind Cards Against Humanity and games of that ilk; we all want to be able to put together the single most reprehensible thought possible, to make each other laugh uproariously. And Evil Apples vs. Humanity is essentially Cards Against Humanity but online and free, two things which immediately makes it better! Test the limits of your sense of propriety by checking it out here.
Ah yes, Uno. We’d wager that, over the years, the various versions of this game have torn apart more families than alcoholism. There’s a cruel vindictiveness to this legendary card game that is unmatched by just about any other game… except maybe Monopoly. Here we have the free, online version of Uno, to ensure that the quarantine is as contentious as the last time you tried to play this thing. As an added bonus, you can even customize the rules, which you definitely want to do if your goal is to drive each other absolutely bonkers. Play the online version of Uno here!
And we’re including this as a bonus, just in case you’re not one of the millions of people who have already downloaded this ever-ubiquitous app: Houseparty is a social media / gaming platform hybrid that comes loaded with all kinds of mini-games; Heads Up! Quick Draw! Trivia! Basically all the party games you ever played while you were waiting for the next person to come back from their beer run. The app came under scrutiny for supposed security concerns, but those have been largely debunked. Download the app and get to playing!
This situation is not ideal, of course. But if we’re going to make it through this increasingly bizarre situation, we have to be able to come together and do the kinds of silly things we’d normally do at a friend’s house on a Friday night. It keeps us connected and it keeps us from going insane. Stay safe, everyone!