The greatness of game nights: the best online games to play with your Cambridge friends by video call


It’s the end of the year and everyone wants to let off steam, especially now that we finally all have time to hang out with friends. The only problem? You can’t really meet them in person. It’s a bit of a fundamental problem there. Some are on the other side of the country, some on the other side of the world, and some may live next door but are currently isolating themselves – so they could also be on the other side of the world. Sad moments.

Then someone in the group chat suggests a video call. I know what you are thinking – a video call is good, isn’t it? Oh no. You shudder remembering all the video calling mishaps of the last eight weeks of being online: running frantically around the house five minutes before a meeting trying to find a place where Wi-Fi is working; “Can you hear me?” repeatedly shouted at the camera, rivaled in frequency only by the number of Camfesses linked to Toope; and the occasional heartbreaking mid-supo crying. You can’t make a video call – Zoom is haunted by incidents you’d rather forget.

But fear not! It doesn’t have to be that way! Online gaming night is here to the rescue. To save you the silence of the breakout room, The Tab has ranked nine games that you can play via video call with your friends to make the most of game night. And who knows? You might even forget you’re on a video call in the first place.

Methodology

The detailed steps of our very serious study:

Step one: Assemble a focus group (also called friends)

Step two: play games – all available as apps or online

Step three: rank the games

The NatScis in the group were particularly excited as this is the only in-person practice they’ve had all year. You’re welcome

Game faces on (Photo credit: author’s screenshot)

Results

Respondents were asked to rank the games according to their level of enjoyment, with the results used to give each game a rating out of 10 (we are professionals, we know that):

Results of a * very scientific * study (Photo credit: Author’s screenshot from SurveyMonkey)

Here’s what we found:

1. Psyche

In the first place is Psych. This app is all about outwitting other players by writing creative answers to questions and voting for the best one. The questions range from crafting definitions to fake words in an attempt to deceive your friends, to crafting answers about said friends. Needless to say, things can get * very * personal.

(Photo credit: screenshot by author of the Psych app)

Pro: Possibility to really roast your friends.

Inconvenience : You could roast yourself – but hey, some of our supervisors have prepared us enough for this now.

Goal: 7.8

2. Photographic roulette

This one’s a killer – the app selects random photos from everyone’s camera rolls and players have to guess which phone they’re from. Yes, the thought of giving up control of your filmstrip to the app pains your stomach, but the hilarity of the game is well worth it. Plus, it’s a great bonding exercise – there are aspects of someone’s personality that only memes on their phones can reveal.

Pro: You get to see some very embarrassing photos of other players.

Inconvenience : Did you think those dodgy mugshots your friends took of you in eighth grade would never see the light of day again? Think again.

Goal: 7.2

= 2. Skribbl.io

This game is a lot like Pictionary. Each player takes turns drawing a word given to them and the others have to guess. You earn points for how quickly you guess and the quality of your drawings. Let’s just say none of us are going to win the Turner Prize anytime soon.

Player 3: * draws the bank *
Cambridge student: * guess Trinity *
(Photo credit: Author’s screenshot on Skribbl.io)

Pro: Very easy to access, lots of laughs.

Inconvenience : There’s always a friend with an artistic level A who ends up drawing a Picasso-style masterpiece, which makes you a little ashamed of the stick you just drew. Of course, if you are that friend, the opportunity to develop your superior artistic skills is really more of a plus than a minus.

Goal: 7.2

3. Cards Against Humanity

Everyone receives a few cards with certain phrases on them. Each player in turn becomes the “Tsar of the card” by drawing an additional card that contains a phrase such as “Instead of coal, Santa Claus now gives bad children ___”. The other players must select one of their cards that contains the phrase they think fills in the blank in the funniest way. Card Czar then reads them and chooses the winner of the round.

Flashbacks to ninth grade, anyone? Playing this game over lunch has made you the epitome of badass.

Pro: Everyone’s sense of humor has a bit of an odd side to it and this game is great for revealing that to the world.

Inconvenience : Let’s just say that some of the phrases on the cards can be somewhat obnoxious, so it’s probably not the best idea to play this if you have very young siblings coming in and out of your room.

Goal: 6.5

4. Spy fall

A player is given the role of spy. Everyone else is given a card with a secret location. In turn, players have questions about the location, which are fairly easy to answer unless you’re the spy, in which case you have to make it up. The other players must try to guess who the spy is and the spy must try to avoid being caught.

Pro: We must think quickly! The game can also last quite a long time (15-30 minutes, depending on the number of players), which makes for a healthy night out. Why not make it a themed party with fancy dress, fake mustaches and the James Bond theme in the background?

Inconvenience : You better not hesitate to lie – otherwise your moral compass will to lose one’s mind.

Goal: 5.2

5. Uno

Classic card game… need I say more?

Have a crazy night playing Uno (Photo credit: This photo by unknown author is licensed under CC BY-SA)

Pro: Takes you back to relaxing family evenings. You can spice it up by changing the rules a bit. For example, for each “draw two” card, you must now draw double the number of the last card played… what a snowball!

Inconvenience : Aren’t even suggesting that there are downsides to this universally beloved game, capeesh?

Goal: 4.2

Okay, in all fairness Uno probably came in 5th only because he doesn’t require the same level of mind, or come with the same level of embarrassment as previous games.

6. Scattergories

Invite your friends to join your scatergories server. The server will generate a random letter and a list of categories. All you have to do is write down the first thing that comes to your mind in each category, starting with the random letter. Try to be as quick as possible as there is a hard time limit – and think creatively so you don’t get the same answers as everyone else! You can make the game more competitive by awarding points to players who have given unique answers.

(Photo credit: Author’s screenshot from scatergories)

Pro: Very easy to transform into a drinking game. Matching responses with a friend? It’s time for a Jagerbomb. Before you know it, scatergories will take the place of Sitting Cindies (RIPs) in your heart.

Inconvenience : A bit basic – so not exactly the pinnacle of academic rigor. But this might be what you need after the past eight weeks.

Goal: 3.5

7. Kahoot

Basically a quiz game with lots of categories to choose from, ranging from food to languages. You can make it even better by making your own Kahoot with Cambridge themed questions or questions about your friends, which would be a great bonding exercise.

Pro: Very accessible. After trying out the * very difficult * Intercollegiate Quiz this year, it was heartwarming to finally play a game in which I could answer a respectable number of questions. I mean, with multiple choice you still have a 25% chance of being successful, right?

Inconvenience : If, like me, 80% of your blanket teachers in school were using Kahoot instead of a lesson plan, you might have already stocked up on this game for life.

Goal: 2.2

8. Attention

It’s time to let your creativity run wild …

A player is holding a card (or their phone, in this case) over their head. The card shows a word they cannot see. Everyone should give a verbal description or act out the word on the card. The person holding the card must guess the word, then move on to the next one. The player who guesses the most words at the end wins.

Pro: Fast and fun, everyone can get involved.

Inconvenience : Can be difficult to play if the internet of the person trying to guess the word is lagging behind as the game requires a quick reaction.

Goal: 1.4

So there you have it: all the high-quality Tab analysis of online games. Yes, you might not be celebrating the end of the term with the same enthusiasm as a year ago, but these games show that a healthy, enjoyable and surprising night out is still possible.

Featured Image Credit: Author’s own image and screenshots from the App Store and Skribbl.io

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