11 best games to play on Zoom

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

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At a time when most people are social distancing and doing their best to say at home, it may seem like throwing a game night is a thing of the past — but it doesn't have to be! With video chatting apps like Zoom and Skype, you can still get together with your friends and family to catch-up and play games.

Shop TODAY spoke with gaming experts to get their recommendations for the best ways to have a virtual game night. Take a look below to find your next go-to board game!

Games to play over video

1. Wavelength

Whether it's just you and a friend or 20 other people, this game will accommodate everyone! 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 this style of 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. Trivial Pursuit Classic Edition

As long as one person has the board, anyone can play! This classic trivia game requires creativity and knowledge as you move around the board. Designate one person to show the cards on the video screen, and then compete to see who knows the most trivia.

Erik Arneson, author of the upcoming book "How to Host a Game Night," finds trivia games to be the easiest to move to a digital setting.

"It's not difficult at all to make Trivial Pursuit — or just about any other trivia game — work on video chat," Arneson said. "You may need to adjust the scoring system, but that's always pretty easy to do."

4. Pictionary

Another timeless game, 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!"

5. 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.

6. Trophies Card Game

This quick game takes only five to 15 minutes to complete, and you can even play with up to 30 players! Rodney Smith, 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 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."

7. 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.

8. 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."

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. Welcome To...Your Perfect Home

Tony Mastrangeli, a publisher for Board Game Quest, says the "roll and write" genre also translates well to video chatting apps. This particular game inspires you to tap into your inner architect and build your own town.

"The sheets are free to print off, and the person that owns the game just needs to focus their camera on the game cards," Mastrangeli said. "Everyone can see the cards and record their choices on their own sheets. There are actually a ton of games in this genre that would work. Just look up 'roll and write' games."

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