During a pandemic, Zoom game nights are the epitome of fun and safety. With friends time-zones apart and outdoor hangouts freezing cold, finding the perfect online multiplayer game is more important than ever.
Here are some of our top free-to-play picks.
Creative Games (for the imaginative)
Redacted: 4+ people, 15-20 min
Similar to your classic pen-and-paper “pass the story” games, every player starts by writing a few lines, then passes it on to the next player, who gets to add, edit, or delete parts of the story. Each player will eventually end up with the story they started with and get to read the group’s literary masterpieces on Zoom.
Pros: This game will become chaotic, but in the best way possible. And, for even more chaos, toggle the “anonymous” setting on.
Cons: Being creative can be difficult, especially when a timer is counting down the seconds.
Kahoot.it Personality Quiz Night: 3+ people, 10 - ∞ min
Have each player create their own personal quiz before the night starts and find out who knows who the best! The questions can be as random or deep as your heart desires, ranging from “What is my ideal Tuesday evening?” to “Which Muppet most clearly reflects my innermost soul?”
Pros: You will learn more about your friends then you had ever imagined.
Cons: This requires some prep work. And while Kahoot is free, you do need to make an account.
Drawing-Based Games (no art skills required)
Scribble: 2+ people, 10-15 min
Similar to old-school telephone, every player is initially given a word to draw, the next player writes their best (or craziest) guess for the word, the next player draws their best interpretation of that word, and so on. At the end, each player can share what they originally created – and what it turned into – with the group.
Pros: Each player is active the entire time and has full creative freedom.
Cons: Since players’ drawing speeds may vary, you may need to set a timer.
Skribbl: 2-12 people, adjustable setting for draw time and number of rounds
Similar to Pictionary, Scribble.io gives one player a prompt to draw, while the others guess. Using the “Custom Words” feature allows you to draw inside jokes or curate a list of wacky prompts. Scribble.io’s set timer, shorter round time, and shared screen make it ideal for a larger group.
Pros: You get to create and customize your own avatar.
Cons: Some prompts may be incredibly difficult to draw, while others may be too easy to guess.
Games that Require Deep Thought (for those who like words)
New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest: 1+ people, 10 - ∞ min
Search “New Yorker Cartoons” in Google Images and have one person share their screen. Choose an image that speaks to your heart, then let the caption war in the Zoom chat begin. Variations include Democracy style, where each player votes on a winner, and Card Czar style, where there is one judge per round.
Pros: Since most images’ captions are not visible during the google search, you and your friends have full creative leeway.
Cons: Even for word-lovers, caption writing can be difficult.
Codenames: 4-8 people, 15-30 min
Codenames is a witty guessing game in which the “spymaster” on each team must give their teammates a one-word clue and a number, while their teammates must debate which cards on the grid do (or don’t) match the clue.
Pros: This game is unique and perfect for those who like guessing or word games!
Cons: When you have the perfect clue-word at the tip of your tongue, but it continues to evade you.
Classic Card Games (for the nostalgic)
Picture Cards Online: 1-20 people, 15 - ∞ min
Picture Cards Online is essentially Cards Against Humanity, except you can choose between thousands of player-created decks (or create your own). Similar to Scribl.io and outofcontext.party, one player will create a private game room that other players can join.
Pros: There are multiple playing modes, such as having only single-blank cards or letting every player vote at the end of each round.
Cons: Depending on your personal comfort zone, some cards may be a bit too offensive or risqué.
Pizzuno: 1-4 players, 10 - ∞ min
Pizzuno is essentially the same as UNO, except the cards and rules are slightly different. While any UNO lover will have no trouble picking up this version, reading the rules is highly recommended.
Pros: Perfect for anyone who loves cut-throat competition.
Cons: Players need to adjust to the game’s slight differences from UNO.