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Connect with friends and family and have fun with a virtual game night!
Connect with friends and family and have fun with a virtual game night!

Virtual Game Night 🎲

Game Night: That time-honored tradition of gathering your nearest and dearest in an attempt to completely obliterate them in your quest for triumph. 🏆

But game nights are so much more. We all know a good game night never confines itself to just the game. It’s a way to catch up that takes the burden off small talk, shares a collaborative experience and creates connections with friends new and old.

Yes, there are plenty of online games, video games 🎮 and games services, but we’re hoping to replicate that old-fashioned game night experience using video conference software of your group’s choice. Options include Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Google Meet, and others, depending on the size of your group.

Due to the pandemic, many local game stores canceled their regular game days or closed their game rooms, but the sale of board games surged. And we don’t think the appeal of virtual game night will go away, even when it’s safe to gather. Holding events virtually means that distance is no longer a barrier to spending quality time together. 😊💻

Here are a few recommendations to get your virtual game night started, adaptable to different sized groups, with varying degrees of prep work required. Game on! 🎲

Minimum Prep
There are quite a few popular family-friendly games that work well for gaming over a video call, whether it’s with cousins in California or friends from down the street. 

Yahtzee is a crowd favorite. Each household just needs five dice and a cup. 🎲 Establish an order, pick someone to keep score and you’re good to go.

Battleship was originally a pencil-and-paper strategy game, invented during World War I. 🚢 In our version, all you need is some graph paper (or draw a grid) with labeled rows and columns. Color the boxes in your “battleships” and cross them off when “hit.” To make the page reusable for multiple rounds, stick the paper in a clear plastic document sleeve and use it as a whiteboard with a dry erase marker. You can play people against one another using break-out rooms (make sure your opponent can’t see your sheet on the screen!) or make it a group battle, with people taking turns calling hits on each other. 🎯

Charades is a party pleaser and has been for over a hundred years at least. 🙅‍♂️🤷‍♀️ If there are multiple players in one household, put them on different teams to heighten the drama. Individuals can choose their own hints to act out, or the host can private message a hint to that round’s actor. 

Medium Prep
With a little research, a few rounds of trivia can make for a lively night.❓🙋 Prepare questions in levels of difficulty, with themes, or by age. You can also prepare a few prizes for the winners (think stickers, gift cards, “winner” ribbons, or a certificate of victory), ready to mail out the following day. (FYI: Keep an eye out for the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art’s family-friendly virtual trivia night, which happens every few months.)

Don’t want to bear the burden of scouring the encyclopedia for tricky tidbits? Up the ante with an amped version of “True or False.” 🧐 Have all the participants prepare an array of true facts and believable falsehoods. The player with the most correct answers AND who manages to fool the most people, wins. 

Scavenger Hunts will send kids (and adults) scurrying around the house, trying to be the first to collect a range of household objects. 🏃‍♀️ Make tiered lists: Easy to find (a shoe, a blue pen: 1 point), harder to find (usually more specific, like a red t-shirt, a purple beaded bracelet, or a Wiffle ball: 2 points) and nearly impossible (a magazine with a picture of a tabby cat in it, a family picture from the late 90s, or a traffic cone: 3 points).

Like charades, drawing games like Pictionary have been popular for years. 👩‍🎨 Households will need whiteboards or plenty of paper and at least one player needs a timer to keep track of turns. We recommend using black marker, easier to see over video. The tech/engineering savvy might be able to rig up an overhead camera, for easier drawing and viewing. The host can create a list of drawable hints by perusing the dictionary (or using a random word generator), private messaging the players for each round. 

Maximum Prep
Enter the realm...of the imagination. ✨ The true hero of game night is the creative host, ready to lead family and friends in a storytelling adventure. 

Role-Playing Games: Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs have proven sure winners for the together-but-apart aspect of this pandemic, with regular gatherings to keep the campaign going. The tabletop version easily transfers to the online medium and —bonus — you can change all your backgrounds to look like you really are in the same place — whether it’s a cave, a forest, or a dungeon. Plus, you get to dress up! 🧙🧝 If you've never played before, try a D&D starter pack. There are also games geared for younger players, such as “No Thank You, Evil!”

If you want to go on an epic adventure you’ll never forget, let a younger player lead the story. Sure, they won’t stay on script, but the plot twists will astound you. 🤯 Just roll with it.

Solve a Mystery: Weave a tale of deception and design a mystery for your group to solve. 🕵️ Putting together a good mystery is a challenge (and yes, there are services that will do it for you) but it allows you to tailor it to your players and their interests. Who stole the Cursed Ruby of the Isle of Fortuna? Why is there a rooster in the treehouse? What is in that spooky abandoned mansion at the top of the hill? Where did all the cupcakes go? 🧁🧁🧁

Party Prep
This is a party, after all, a gathering of friends and family. If you really want to wow your “guests,” mail or drop off a party pack, with the necessary materials for the game night, some snack packs, and a note to tell them how much you look forward to defeating them in person, when it’s safe to gather again. 🛍️

 More Adventures in Kansas City

Game On: Virtual Game Night Fundraiser 🎲

Harmony Project KC, which works to increase access to higher education through music, is hosting a virtual game night fundraiser with the Northeast Community Center on April 17. Learn more about the event and RSVP online.
Rap & Jazz Music Tribute Concert 🎷

On Wednesday, March 31 at 7 p.m., tune in for a special tribute concert broadcast live from the Gem Theater. Hosted by the American Jazz Museum, this concert is free and you can watch it from the museum's Facebook page.

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Photo Credits:
1. Liz West | Flickr
2. Chris Riebschlager | Flickr
3. Libby Hanssen | KCUR
4. Patrick Q | Flickr
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