How to turn your next video call into an interactive game night

Plan a virtual game night with these expert-approved picks.
By Megan Foster and Rylee Johnston

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Stay-at-home orders are being lifted across the country, but not everyone is ready to travel this summer. Some families may choose to stay home and continue to connect with friends and loved ones via video chats.

But what do you do when the conversation has run its course? Introduce a fun, family-friendly game that everyone can enjoy despite being physically apart!

TODAY invited Toy Insider Mom, Laurie Schacht, to share some interactive games that will make your next video call exciting, competitive and entertaining. The team at Shop TODAY also spoke with gaming experts to get their recommendations for the best games to play on Zoom for a virtual game night.

See how you can upgrade your video calls at home with some noteworthy picks and childhood classics.

Games seen on TODAY

1. Fat Brain Toys Pencil Nose

In this fun and engaging game, players have to use their noses to sketch a prompt from a stack of cards. Players are separated into two teams and take turns picking a card to reveal their prompt.

The game gets fun when players put on a special pair of "Pencil Nose" glasses equipped to hold a dry erase marker. With the flip of a timer, the player draws an image as teammates try to guess the word on the card.

Each correct guess equals one point and the first team to 7 points wins!

2. PlayMonster Relative Insanity: See What I Mean?!

Created by comedian Jeff Foxworthy, this game is intended to remind us how wacky our family members can be.

Before playing, a set of photo cards is placed face down on the table, and each player gets seven caption cards. The cards contain funny phrases that fall under one of three categories: "punchline," "what happened next" and "what would granny say."

When the group's "judge" turns over a photo card to reveal a hilarious picture, players caption the photo with one of the funny lines on their card.

The winner is determined by the judge and awarded with a small, pint-size trophy.

3. Watch Ya' Mouth

This popular game invites players to say unique phrases while wearing mouthpieces that make speaking difficult.

After splitting into teams, players take turns wearing the mouth expanders and reading phrases from a stack of cards. The goal is to get your teammates to accurately interpret what you're saying in the few seconds it takes for the timer to run out.

After all the players take a turn as the reader, the team with the most points wins.

4. Uno

If you're looking for a classic game, Uno is a great choice for kids and adults. Before starting, each player is dealt with an even amount of cards, and a pile of remaining cards is placed face-down on the table.

In a race to get rid of all their cards, players take turns matching one of the cards in their hand to a face-up card on the pile.

The first player to get rid of all their cards and shout "Uno" wins the game!

More games to play over video chat

1. Wavelength

If you've ever wanted to read someone's mind, this game will help you do just that. The goal of the game is to guess where a target is secretly located. The team behind the YouTube channel Shut Up and Sit Down personally finds the style of this game easy to bring to a video setting.

"The absolute best would be games where only one person needs to own the game and could accommodate a wide, flexible player count for lots or just a few players," the Shut Up and Sit Down team told us.

2. Tales From The Loop

A game of mystery and intrigue, you and your family will role-play as teenagers from the '80s attempting to solve mysteries connected to a group called "The Loop." One person can read from the book, while everyone else listens and helps make decisions along the way. This one is another favorite of the Shut Up and Sit Down team, and you can check out their full review on their YouTube channel.

3. Pictionary

Pictionary lets you compete against your family and friends to find out who is the most artistic of the bunch.

Arneson suggests using classic party games since they're easy to play in a casual setting.

"Sticking to the party game genre, many of the classics translate well to video chat," Arneson said. "Scattergories, Pictionary and charades are all easy to translate into a Zoom-style experience, and great fun!"

4. Codenames

Do you have that one person who seems to always know what you're thinking? Put them and your friends to the test with Codenames!

"It's an amazing game, and like Boggle, all it really takes is one person having a camera they can point at the cards," Arneson said.

5. Trophies Card Game

This quick game takes only five to 15 minutes to complete and you can play with up to 30 people. Rodney Smith, the host of the YouTube channel "Watch It Played," told TODAY it's one of his favorites.

"It’s ridiculously simple, which is also its charm," Smith told us. "Everyone gets how to play right away, and it generates laughs as people race to think of things quickly, often thinking of silly things under the time pressure. And the points don’t really end up mattering. The judge has the final say. If two people say an answer at the same time, the judge picks one – maybe the funniest, or maybe Uncle Fred’s because he really needs the points."

6. Wits & Wagers Board Game

A trivia game that claims no one knows the exact answer to the questions, you and your crew will have fun guessing to see who gets the closest!

"Over Zoom, you just need to have people write their answers on a sheet of paper and reveal them at the right time," Smith said. "The host of the game then copies those answers down onto their own sheets, and arranges them in order on screen for people to call out their bets."

Smith even has a helpful how-to video on his YouTube channel.

7. Yahtzee

Another family-fun game is Yahtzee! Many families might already have this one in their closet, though if they don't, all they'll need is a set of five dice.

"The classic dice game Yahtzee works well as long as everyone playing has their own set of five dice," Arneson told us. "You can easily find Yahtzee scoring sheets on the web."

8. Scattergories

Arneson also recommends playing Scattergories because of the simple set-up and easy rules. Teams come up with answers for specific categories to earn the most points, making it a great fast-paced option.

9. Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale

This role-playing game brings fantasy to life, allowing you and your friends to be transported out of your homes and to a fantasy world.

"For people a little more experienced with modern board games, they might enjoy this title," Smith said. "Each player will need their own sheet, but they can be downloaded from here, for free. Not only is the game full of delightful fantasy art, but the game itself will have players creating their own art as they play."

Check out Smith's video tutorial if you need help getting started.

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