Back in 2020, I came up with a list of 10 games designed for socially distanced gatherings. Turns out that 2021 isn't much different. Oh well.
(And I doubt next year will be better, because it's 2020 too! Ah ha ha ha! Ah hah. Haaa.)
I used up most of my best concepts in 2020, but here are 5 more games to add to the list. They've all been tested.
- Will work over video chat.
- Cannot require special items, applications, or elaborate preparation.
- Cannot rely on the physical fitness of any participants.
- Are not intellectually challenging.
- Are sufficiently ridiculous that anyone who gets overly competitive will feel a bit silly, yet still retain a degree of competition.
Each Participant Will Need: Several sheets of paper, a marker, and a pen.
Each Household Will Need: A ruler or tape measure, and an umbrella, rolling pin, or walking stick.
A marker is easier to see when held up to a camera. Pencils will not work; they're too hard to see. The ruler/tape measure and umbrella/rolling pin/walking stick keeps people guessing and promotes interest in the game. Ooh, what have they got planned?
The games work with up to 20 people, though anything past 10 results in moderate chaos from time to time.
The person organizing the games should commit to them knowing full well they'll look like a damn fool. The organizer can participate in most of the games.
If you've got one uncle who flipped a card table when they lost a particularly close card game, or an aunt who hasn't had fun since 1952 and has no intention of starting now, these games simply won't work. Arguments should be fun, self-aware and performative, not actual fights. As with any game, you need a certain type of relaxed group.
11. The Folded Creature Game
This game depends on 1. The Category Challenge from last year's list and a separate piece of paper. It should be played before the items on the list are revealed or compared.
Depict the second animal on your list using a piece of paper. You cannot draw on your piece of paper, but you can fold it, cut it, or tape it. You have 90 seconds starting now.
Taking it in turns, show your animal to the group. Everyone writes down their guess. You get 1 point for each person who correctly identifies your animal. Anyone who correctly identifies your animal also gets 1 point.
The joy of the category challenge is realizing you've put yourself in a terrible position. It wouldn't be as fun if the host gave everyone a list of animals.
Moving your folded animal to assist the judge is technically cheating... but it also leads to lively debate and adds to the fun. Making noises is beyond the pale. You can also try this with the other categories (machines, foods, or musical instruments), though it will be more difficult.
12. The Hand Arrangement Game
This game also depends on 1. The Category Challenge from last year's list.
Taking it in turns, arrange your hands so that they resemble the third animal on your list. You cannot move your hands once they are arranged. Everyone writes down their guess. You get 1 point for each person who correctly identifies your animal. Anyone who correctly identifies your animal also gets 1 point.
This game works well with the other categories (machines, foods, or musical instruments). It's basically shadow-puppets, but without the shadow bit. Everyone cheats and wiggles their hands; it's inevitable.
13. The Most Comfortable Chair Game
Draw the most comfortable chair. You have 90 seconds. You cannot write letters.
Taking it in turns, show off your chair. Players vote on the most comfortable chair. The winner gets 5 points.
Vaguely based on the prize task in Taskmaster S4E7. Soliciting votes (by extolling the chair's virtues, by threats, or by strategy) adds to the hilarity of the game.
14. The Modified Portrait Game
This is a variant of 4. The Portrait Game.
Using a marker and a piece of paper,
draw a portrait of one person you can see on this video call. You cannot
use your dominant hand. You cannot write letters.
You get 1 point for each person who correctly identifies the subject of your drawing. However, if everyone correctly identifies the subject of your drawing, you get no points.
You have 30 seconds starting now.
The same suggestions and drawbacks apply, but this variant adds a bit of bluffing and deliberately misleading details.
15. The Spaceship Game
This is a variant on 10. The Monster Drawing Game.
Using a marker and a piece of paper, draw the spaceship I am going to describe. You have 2 minutes to draw the spaceship, starting from when I start describing the spaceship. I will not stop or repeat myself.
My magnificent spaceship has a spherical crew module and three windows. It has a hydrogen fuel tank and an oxygen fuel tank, and two rectangular solar panels, and one more window, and two round solar panels, and a long truss made of triangles.
It has one big engine and two smaller engines. And it has a spare oxygen tank. And it has a spider-shaped antenna. And an escape pod that looks a bit like an ice cream cone. And the escape pod has a round solar panel. And it has a cube-shaped cargo pod on the end of the truss.
And it has a really cool name, painted on the side. It was sponsored by the USA and Russia and China and Australia, and it is leaking air, and it is crashing into the moon.
Hand your drawing to someone else to mark. You get 1 point for each criteria your spaceship meets. Arguing is permitted. Maximum of 20 points.
Criteria (1 point each):
[Read out loud and get people to put a checkmark for each criteria met, then collate the totals.]
Spherical crew module?
1 Hydrogen tank?
2 Oxygen tanks?
2 rectangular solar panels?
3 round solar panels?
1 triangular truss?
Cube-shaped cargo module on the end of the truss?
1 big engine?
2 small engines?
Escape pod that looks like an ice cream cone?
Total of # windows?
Really cool name?
Crashing into the moon?
Taskmaster task reference (UK S10E09). Pause while describing the spaceship to let people catch up. Really relish each word.
Designing games for video calls is tricky. The constraints make a lot of traditional games impossible. It's a fun challenge, and I'm sorry this year's list aren't quite as good as last year's. Still, more games means more options. Enjoy!