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How To Have A Zoom Family Game Night That's Fun For Everybody Involved

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If you’re like most people who have hunkered down as a way to practice social distancing, you’re probably feeling pretty bored (read: stir crazy) right about now. After all, there are only so many times you can walk your dog, or, um, home school your kids. So it’s time to let off a little steam with a good ol’ family game night. But if game night usually included other friends and relatives, it might feel like something (or someone) is missing. That’s when you need to log back onto your computer and figure out how to have a Zoom family game night.

Of course, it might feel a little awkward at first to host a virtual game night. But once the games get going, you might find that you even forget you’re not all in the same space. “Game nights are a great way to make sure that family gathers together, and will draw kids in (and away!) from their devices,” Dr. Lea Lis, a double board-certified adult and child psychiatrist, tells Romper. “Game night can help increase bonding and make your family feel more together.”

Get ready to roll the die, log in to your Zoom account, and have some laughs with a family game night that keeps the connection going despite the (social) distance.

1. Be Prepared

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There’s nothing like a video lag to ruin the spirit of game night. So make sure that your WiFi is up and working well, as well as everyone else’s. You might even do a test run with a fellow gamer before getting everyone in on the action. “Do a demo before game night, so that you have a smooth start and playtime without frustrations,” Tania DaSilva, a clinical psychologist, tells Romper. And that way, you won’t miss a moment when Grandma suddenly decides to act like a T-rex during Charades.

2. Make Everyone Feel Comfortable

Let’s face it: some people are just more tech savvy than others. So you want to make sure that everyone is on the same page skill-wise when it comes to using Zoom. “Troubleshoot ahead of time to ensure that relatives understand how to use the app,” says DaSilva. And since a camera can be off-putting to some people, you want to make sure that no one feels self-conscious while sharing the screen.

3. Serve Some Snacks

Just because you won’t be breaking bread with your best friend and fam doesn’t mean that food shouldn’t be a game night priority. So start thinking about the menu (snacky foods work best!) and share it with your fellow gamers. That way, you can all be eating the same delicious party food — and you won’t have nearly as many dishes to wash afterwards.

4. Have A Backup Plan

If you thought that you could play any ol’ game virtually, think again. “Pick a game list that would work in this unique setting,” advises DaSilva. “And have multiple options so if one doesn’t work exactly as planned, you’ll have other alternatives.” That way, if the WiFi goes out, you can always use your phones or play another game to keep the festivities going.

5. Decide Which Games To Play

The one thing you don’t want to do on game night is wing it (although serving wings would be scrumptious). “Think of simple, easily transferable games for the night; these would be the most successful,” says DaSilva. “Look for games that don’t need much else other than paper and pens, and the players themselves.”

6. Be Flexible

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When you’re planning a perfect night of fun and games, try to be as flexible as possible. That’s why you should adopt an attitude of adaptability. “Think of games all family members own, and how you can adapt the game style to work from different homes,” says DaSilva. That way, everyone can participate in the fun and won’t feel left out. And if things don’t go exactly as planned, that’s okay — it’s all part of the fun.

7. Play Pictionary

So your partner thinks he’s a Picasso? Let them prove their artistic excellence with a solid game of Pictionary. “Pictionary is not just a fun game to play, but it can also work very well in the video chat arena,” says Dr. Lis. Make sure that everyone has paper and markers, and draw to their heart's content.

8. Do The Distance Dance

You knew that it was only a matter of time before the Coronavirus created a new dance craze. Enter The Distance Dance. Created by Tik Tok star Charli D’Amelio, the dance is meant to encourage people to “Inhale, exhale, breathe slow, rewind. Stay at home!” Get everyone to watch it ahead of time, and then let them show off their impersonations. Best performance gets a virtual high-five!

9. Play Charades

Give your silly kiddo the chance to get the sillies out in this fun game. Everyone can have a handful of ideas written on scraps of paper, numbered 1-10, for example. Let your child pick a number, and then the person has to act out whatever's written on the paper.

10. Crush It In Karaoke

Challenge your fam and friends to a winner-takes-all game of karaoke. Just search up some songs on YouTube and have everyone sing along with the lyrics. Have prizes on hand for the person with the best pipes. Don’t have a mic? A hairbrush will totally do.

11. Host A Scavenger Hunt

Set up a scavenger hunt for everyone. Select a theme (it could be anything from animals to artifacts, for example), and then set a timer, for say, 60 seconds. Then, everyone has to race around and collect all the items before time’s up.

12. Ask 21 Questions

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If your kid clams up when he’s facing the camera, help him become an interviewer extraordinaire with 21 Questions. The questions can be silly (i.e. "What did you eat for breakfast?") to the more serious (i.e. "What's your biggest fear?") It's a great way to get to know everyone on an entirely new (and meaningful) level.

Experts:

Dr. Lea Lis, a double board-certified adult and child psychiatrist and author of "No Shame: Real Talk With Your Kids About Sex, Self-confidence, and Healthy Relationships"

Tania DaSilva, a clinical psychologist