One of the things I’ve missed most in the pandemic is being in the company of larger groups of friends. Zoom has been a very helpful tool to connect, but with bigger groups, it is easy for the call to get chaotic and full of awkward silences. Many times, everyone just looks at each other, not knowing when to speak next in fear of interrupting someone.
Yet, in times when I’ve really needed more human connection, organizing games and activities over Zoom has been a nice alternative. Larger groups of friends can still hang out and crack jokes together over Zoom — it just takes a little more creativity and structure to get the dynamic rolling.
Here are some suggestions for games to play together with a wider group of friends while social distancing:
For the first few months of quarantine, a group of my friends played Scattergories every Saturday. It’s not hard to organize this game with your own materials once you know the format — you don’t need the official game box. We came up with our own categories, and someone chose the “key letter” by counting the alphabet in his or her head until another person stopped them. Once we figured out the order in which people shared answers, it was easy to play! It brought so many laughs, and was something I looked forward to each week.
2. Game of Things
This is another hilarious game to play over Zoom! Again, you don’t need the original game or official rules to play. One person asks a question (you can find some ideas online), and the rest of the members private-message their answer to that leader. You then take turns trying to eliminate each other by guessing who wrote which response — last person standing wins. This game is actually more fun to play with a larger group of people!
3. Euchre tournament
As a Midwesterner, I grew up playing all sorts of card games. To keep with the spirit, my sister organized a Euchre tournament over Zoom. Everyone got the same app and did online play together. Technically, you don’t need Zoom for this one, but the streaming connection is nice to have side conversations while you are playing. In a way, it makes you feel like you are in the same room as the people playing with you.
My classmates played trivia during our orientation period for my master’s degree program, and it was a great way for us to get to know each other and learn new facts. I recommend using the “breakout group” feature on Zoom — time was carved out to send us to our small groups, and it helped lessen the chaos of being on one call. Have one participant from each team submit answers on a Google form. You can create any category you want: Harry Potter, The Office, and other subjects your friends hold dear!
This is a classic game of sketching under pressure while the group guesses what you’re drawing. Online resources can help you generate a set of random words, and Zoom has a whiteboard feature that you can use for drawing. Bonus points if you play with the mouse from your laptop — it’s much harder to use for drawing, and therefore the results are much funnier.
6. Show & tell
A great “get to know you” activity! Have each person grab something special from their house, and give everyone the opportunity to share their object and tell the story behind it. It’s fun to see what heartfelt things can turn into memories, and helps learn more about someone on a deeper level.
7. At-home bar crawl
If you are still weary about going to bars, have a bar crawl at home! Bring your drink to a different room of your apartment, studio, or house — you might have to get creative with where to go, but it’s a fun way to share your living space. You might even think about sharing new cocktail recipes together.
Social distance is a way to keep each other safe and provide for the common good, but it doesn’t mean we have to be lonely. Those large-group outings might be on hold for now, but with some creativity, leadership, and intentionality, you can still enjoy time with your crew. There’s something about the dynamic in groups of friends where we know that we’re not alone, that we belong. These days, that feeling is more important than ever.