It has been almost a year since life as we’ve known it, including the ways we socialize with one another, has been changed by COVID-19. Even though some of these challenges have been alleviated thanks to safety measures taken at UNH allowing students to experience some normalcy, challenges such as rising cases, winter weather limiting time outdoors, and the overall state of the country still make socializing with friends difficult. Difficult, but not impossible.  

Perhaps we are fortunate that this pandemic has occurred in an age where we are connected now more than we ever were before in an age of technology- and an age of video games. Even if you’re not a self-proclaimed gamer, video games can be a fantastic way to connect with far-away friends and family. 

So as the vaccines continue to roll out and you continue to do your part to stop the spread, here are some games you and your long-distance loved ones can use to pass the time during these remaining winter days:  

“Jackbox Party Packs”:  

A few months into the pandemic, I eagerly bought several of the “Jackbox Party Packs” and I can confidently say that this may have been my best investment within the past year. Each of the seven “Jackbox Party Packs” comes with five games, usually including at least one game involving trivia, drawing, strategizing, and fast-on-your-feet comedy writing. If you want a game night with a few far-away friends, “Jackbox” is for you! If you want to host a huge hootenanny, “Jackbox,” along with its audience feature for many of its games, will still be for you! All you need is one person with a pack, a screen to view the game, a phone to play with, and you’re golden! 

One of the catches to the fun-fest that is “Jackbox” is the cost, with most of the packs being priced at $25-$30. However, the games often go on sale, sometimes drastically reducing their prices. And although it may be tempting to buy as many packs as you can get your hands on, each “Jackbox” pack stands well on its own.  

If you want a gut-busting game night, check out any of the “Jackbox Party Packs” available on Steam, the Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Playstation, and more!  

https://www.jackboxgames.com/

“Skribbl.io”  

If you like “Pictionary” and tormenting your friends with your so-so art skills, you might be drawn to “Skribbl.io!” In this simple and quick-paced drawing game, you and others compete to see who can identify the most drawings the quickest. The way you play can make a difference- sometimes, you’ll want to flex your drawing skills, other times (after a hard round) you might just express yourself with stick figures. Either way, the race is on! 

Like the rest of the games on this list (for the most part), “Skribbl.io” is free to play! Just hop onto your computer or laptop and start your art! 

https://skribbl.io/

“Among Us” 

If you haven’t heard of this game before this article, you might be a bit sus, but here’s the gist of it: in this interactive “Mafia” and “Werewolf”-like game, you and your fellow crewmates are tasked with fixing your ship and base, only to be thwarted by the killer imposter among your team. While mostly a strategy game, “Among Us” requires somewhat decent lying and improv skills as well as an assortment of mini-games to play even after your little crewmate has been snuffed by the imposter.  

This 4-10 player game is on Steam and PC for $5 but free to play on your phone if you want to see what the hype is about!  

(For more information, check out Art Editor Cee’s write-up on “Among Us”!)  

https://innersloth.com/gameAmongUs.php

Nostalgic Games: 

Let’s face it: many of us are still children at heart. So during these extremely tense times, why not unwind with our friends and revisit some of our favorite childhood video games with our friends? 

While some of them as you may recall are stuck behind paywalls and memberships, others over time have become more accessible. For instance, “Club Penguin,” which shut down in 2019, has been given a new life through “Club Penguin Rewritten” where you can waddle along with your friends without having to pay those membership fees!  

You’d be surprised to find out that a lot of your favorite childhood games are still around today from “Roblox” to “Webkinz,” ready for you to play! Just keep in mind that even if you’re having a good time as an adult revisiting these websites, there are still kids who are playing! 

“Gartic Phone”:  

Want a drawing game like “Skribbl.io” but with a bit more spice? “Gartic Phone” may be right for you! A virtual take on the classic game Telephone, you and your friends are tasked with relaying each other’s prompts. Starting with a prompt, you are then given someone’s illustration, and then your illustration is given to another player for them to title and so on depending on the number of players you have. One of the best features of this game is that you’re never limited to a restricted list of prompts. You can type out whatever wild idea comes to you, no matter how ridiculous it is! 

https://garticphone.com/

Stay strong, and game on!