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The best games to play with friends over Zoom, from Psych to Heads Up

Eva Waite-Taylor
·5-min read
<p>From a boozy night in to a call with colleagues, we have games for every kind of gathering</p> (iStock)

From a boozy night in to a call with colleagues, we have games for every kind of gathering

(iStock)

For a brief period, it seemed that life was going to back to a state of semi-normality, and 2021 offered a glimmer of hope.

But, as we neared the end of 2020, our expectations weren’t quite met – with much of the country already in tier 3 and 4 restrictions, the government then announced a third national lockdown, which started on 5 January.

The current rules across the UK stipulate that people must stay at home, leaving only for essential reasons or for daily exercise. With this strict order in place, socialising with anyone outside your household or support bubble indoors is prohibited.

While you can go on a socially distanced walk with one other person from outside your household, this isn’t particularly ideal during winter. So staying indoors it is.

As such, we’re once more left scrambling for ideas on how we can socialise. During the heady days of the first coronavirus lockdown, Zoom quizzes were the activity du jour. But, having exhausted just about every possible question, it’s likely that you and your pals are well and truly over them.

Luckily, there’s still a host of other ways to stay entertained and have a laugh. From drinking games to karaoke, there’s bound to be something in this list that’ll bring a little bit of joy to lockdown 3.0.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Heads Up!

Warner Bros
Warner Bros

Heads Up! is a party game that works well both in-person and virtually. First, download the app, then pick a category – choose anything from celebrities and movies to accents and characters, or you can even create a deck of your own. When it’s your turn, hold your phone to your head and your fellow players will describe (or act out) the words on the screen before the timer runs out. Expect shouting and a whole lot of laughter.

Play now

Virtual murder mystery

Masters of Mystery
Masters of Mystery

How about hosting your own murder mystery night? While of course you can create your own story for free, we love the look of this 1920s murder mystery game kit (Masters of Mystery, from £14.99). Select how many of you there are playing, from four up to 30, then simply download the game materials. Included is a host guide, detective audio files, evidence packs, character booklets and costume suggestions. Give your friends their character in advance and encourage them to get dressed up. Surely there’s no better way to spend a Friday night?

Play now

Picolo

Picolo
Picolo

If you’re looking for a drinking game, it’s time to download the Picolo app. Add each of your friend’s names into the app and once you’re all set up, it will prompt you to do specific challenges – from drinking if you’re in a certain demographic to posting something on your social media. It’s bound to cheer up a Saturday night in lockdown.

Play now

Karaoke

Amazon
Amazon

If you and your friendship group are the type who love to hit up a karaoke bar on a night out, this one is for you. Simply download the Karafun app, choose one of the songs (there’s everything from “Shallow” from A Star is Born to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”) and share your screen with your fellow singers. Either take it in turns to sing or belt the bangers out all at once. Subscriptions start from £4.99 and we’d suggest splitting the cost across the group for many weekends of fun. As an added extra, why not buy a wireless microphone (Amazon, £17.99) to really up the ante.

Play now

Psych

Warner Bros
Warner Bros

Similar to the TV panel show Would I Lie To You?, in Psych each player makes up fake answers to trivia questions and you have to decide what the real solution is. If you think you really know your friends, why not try the new “and the truth comes out” category, which will put your knowledge to the test.

Play now

Just Dance Now

Ubisoft
Ubisoft

Missing those Saturday night’s spent dancing? Us too. If you’re looking for a mood booster, try turning your living space into an at-home club. Download Just Dance Now to your laptop, desktop or phone, and share your screen via Zoom.

With a range of music on offer, your device will act as the controller and you can follow virtual dances on screen, or take it in turns to be the controller and try to beat each other’s high scores. All you need to do is make sure you’ve got your favourite tipple on hand, whether that’s a flavoured gin or alcohol-free spirit.

Play now

Hogwarts digital escape room

Peter Township Public Library
Peter Township Public Library

Featuring in our guide to virtual escape rooms is this Harry Potter-themed version created by an American librarian in Pennsylvania. Fans of the wizarding world will love it, with team-building exercises, trivia questions and puzzles to solve. Someone will just have to share their screen with the group.

Play now

GeoGuessr

Geoguessr
Geoguessr

GeoGuessr if one for the geography fans. The aim is simple – guess the exact spot or region of a place by looking at nothing more than an abstract picture. Test your ability by opting for famous landmarks or more obscure places around the world. Divide your large group into teams and take it in turns to generate the picture and share your screen – the team with the most points wins. A great way to explore the world when under strict instructions to stay at home.

Play now

Chess

Chess.com
Chess.com

Inspired by The Queen’s Gambit? Why don’t you and a fellow aspiring chess champ compete online? Create an account on Chess.com and challenge one another to a match over Zoom. Turn on your cameras while you play and watch your opponent’s face when you catch them out.

Play now

Searching for more ways to stay entertained? Read our guide to the best online games and multiplayer apps to play with your friends while at home

Read More

The best virtual escape rooms to lose yourself in

Best online games and multiplayer apps to play with friends

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