The grandeur of game night: the best online games to play with your Cambridge friends via video call

It’s the end of term and everyone wants to let off steam, especially now that we all finally have time to hang out with our friends. The only problem? You cannot meet them in person. It’s kind of a fundamental problem there. Some are on the other side of the country, some are on the other side of the world, and some may live next door but are currently self-isolating – so they might as well be on the other side of the world. Sad times.

Then someone in the group chat suggests a video call. I know what you’re thinking – a video call is good, right? Oh no. You shudder as you remember all the video call incidents of the past eight weeks online: frantically running around the house five minutes before a meeting trying to find a place with working Wi-Fi; “Can you hear me?” repeatedly shouted at the camera, matched in frequency only by the number of Toope-related Camfesses; and the occasional mid-suppo heartbreaking scream. You can’t video call – Zoom is haunted by mishaps you’d rather forget.

But don’t be afraid! It doesn’t have to be like that! Online Games Night is here to the rescue. To save you from the hush of the breakout room, The Tab has rated nine games you can play over 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: Gather a Chat Group (also known as Friends)

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

Third step: classify the games

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

Game faces enabled (Photo credit: screenshot by author)

Results

Respondents were asked to rank the games in order of satisfaction, with the results being used to give each game a ranking out of 10 (we’re pros, we know that):

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

Here is what we discovered:

1. Psych

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

(Photo credit: screenshot by Psych app author)

Pro: Ability to really roast your friends.

Vs : You might get grilled yourself – but hey, some of our supervisors have prepared us enough for that by now.

Goal: 7.8

2. Photo 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 handing over control of your camera roll to the app is stomach ache, but the hilarity of the game is worth it. Plus, it’s a great bonding exercise: there are aspects of someone’s personality that only the memes on their phone can reveal.

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

Vs : Did you think those dodgy snaps your friends took of you in 8th grade would never see the light of day again? Think again.

Goal: 7.2

=2. Skribbl.io

This game is a bit like Pictionary. Each player in turn draws a word given to them and the others have to guess it. 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: *guesses Trinity*
(Photo credit: screenshot by author on Skribbl.io)

Pro: Very easy to get to, lots of laughs.

Vs : There’s always that friend with an A level in art who ends up drawing a Picasso-esque masterpiece, making you a little ashamed of the person you just drew. Of course, if you’re that friend, then 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 gets a few cards with certain phrases on them. Each player in turn becomes the “Tsar of Cards” by drawing an additional card that contains a phrase such as “Instead of coal, Santa now gives bad kids ___”. The other players must select one of their cards containing the phrase they think fills the gap in the funniest way. The Card Czar then reads them and chooses the winner of the trick.

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 a weird side to it and this game is great at bringing that out to the world.

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

Goal: 6.5

4. Spy Drop

A player is given the role of spy. Everyone else receives a map with a secret location. In turn, players ask each other 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: You need to think fast! The game can also last quite a long time (15 to 30 minutes, depending on the number of players), which makes for a healthy evening. Why not make it a themed party with fancy dress, fake mustaches and the James Bond theme in the background?

Vs : You better have no qualms about lying – otherwise your moral compass will be 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 under CC BY-SA license)

Pro: Takes you back to relaxing family evenings. You can spice it up by changing the rules a bit. For example, for every “draw two” card, you now have to draw twice the number of the last card played… oof what a curve.

Vs : Aren’t you even suggesting that there are downsides to this universally loved game, capeesh?

Goal: 4.2

Alright, in all honesty, Uno probably came in 5th only because it doesn’t require the same level of mindset or incur the same level of embarrassment as previous games.

6. Scatters

Invite your friends to join your scattergories 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 mind in each category, starting with the random letter. Try to be as quick as possible as there is a strict time limit – and think creatively so you don’t have the same answers as everyone else! You can make the game more competitive by awarding points to players who gave unique answers.

(Photo credit: screenshot by author from scattergories)

Pro: Very easy to turn this into a drinking game. Matching answers with a friend? It’s time for a Jagerbomb. Before you know it, scattergories will fill the Sitting Cindies (RIP) place in your heart.

Vs : A bit basic – so not exactly the height of academic rigor. But maybe that’s just what you need after the last eight weeks.

Goal: 3.5

7. Kahoot

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

Pro: Very approachable. After trying my hand at the *very difficult* intercollegiate quiz this year, it was heartwarming to finally be able to 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 success, right?

Vs : If, like me, 80% of your cover teachers at school have used Kahoot instead of a lesson plan, you may have had your fix of this game for a lifetime.

Goal: 2.2

8. Caution

It’s time to unleash your creativity…

A player holds a card (or their phone, in this case) to their head. The card shows a word they cannot see. Everyone must give a verbal description or play the word shown 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 participate.

Vs : Can be tricky to play if the internet of the person trying to guess the word lags as the game requires a quick reaction.

Goal: 1.4

So here it is: all the premium Tab analysis of online games. Yes, you may not be celebrating the end of term with the same enthusiasm as a year ago, but these games show that a healthy, pleasant and surprising night is still entirely possible.

Featured image credit: Author image and screenshots from App Store and Skribbl.io

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