Worried about your family playing too many games during an extended lockdown? Play with them and bring family time to one screen.
Depending on where you are in the world, there’s a distinct possibility that you’re sitting at home with a stay-at-home lockdown order in place. It’s okay, we get it, and we’re there with you.
While 2020 wasn’t a fantastic year — thanks, coronavirus — the following year hasn’t shaped up to be a whole lot better. The first version of the virus locked us down a bit, and now another is doing its best to make life awkward, too.
Locking down isn’t going to be easy, but we’re all in this together, and if you have kids, keeping them busy may not be remarkably easy, either.
Sydney parents, guardians and carers:
As a kid who was raised on heaps of TV and video games – and turned out to be a relatively okay grown-up (who works in television!) – I'm just going to put it out there: it's okay to lower your standards.
— Benjamin Law 羅旭能 (@mrbenjaminlaw) July 11, 2021
Fortunately, there are games, as Benjamin Law says, and games that you can share. While you mightn’t be a fan of plonking the kids down in front of a screen, it doesn’t have to be like that, and you can choose games to share, such as these picks.
Available on: Windows PC, macOS, PlayStation, Xbox
Easily one of the more direct ways to involve family and friends, Jackbox Games are a pack of games built around trivia and conversation, with gamers really only needing a web browser of sorts to play. That could be your phone, a tablet, or a computer if you have to, but the idea is simple: log in and play against others while watching a screen.
In lockdown with a family, it’ll mean one person streams their computer screen to a TV and the rest play along on their phones, while if you want to play against other people in lockdown — friends you can’t be with — simply get one person to buy the game, share the screen on a video chat service like Google Meet, and everyone else plays along on their phone.
Games in the Jackbox Games packs vary, but there are seven different packs, with some titles daring you to come up with lies in a game about facts, others to draw things that people find the funniest, and then others again challenging you to come up with hilarious lines that everyone votes on.
Jackbox Games typically run with a minimum of two players and a maximum of eight, giving you an idea of just how many people can play, while everyone can clearly watch.
And it’s one way to get gaming going between friends even if you’re not sharing the same household during lockdown.
Untitled Goose Game
Available on: Windows PC, PlayStation, Xbox
Not so much a shareable game in the same way as Jackbox Games, Untitled Goose Game is a stealthy puzzle game where you play a goose annoying people in a small town. You’re basically doing puzzles with stealth, frustrating good samaritans as a goose and honking at them.
There’s no death or violence, but there is a button for honking, and the whole thing is really funny, giving the family a good reason to come around together and let the goose run amuck. If anything, there’s going to be a lot of honking in the home.
Not All Bad Cards
Available on: Anything with a web browser
The classic game Card Against Humanity is an in-real-life card game for adults, but if you have fewer adults than kids, you might want to check out an online edition with fewer adult topics.
While All Bad Cards is an online clone of Cards Against Humanity that you can play in a web browser with friends, Not All Bad Cards is the family friendly equivalent, requiring only a web browser and a link to be shared around. It’s free, though you may want to spend a little bit of money to open up more packs or get rid of the ads, but it provides something for the family to do in a way that is slightly funny and mightn’t cause the stress of a game of Monopoly.
Available on: Apple TV, iOS, Android, Xbox, PlayStation
Whether you’re on a console or have an Apple TV, if you’re keen to play in a bit of a dance off, Just Dance might be the solution. It’s not something that’ll really go outside the home just yet, but for families with either major console or an Apple TV, there’s something there that works.
In the console world, there’s typically a new Just Dance title every year, and every year the idea is the same: you’ll typically play while holding the controller, responding to on-screen directions for songs, and having those translate into actions to see who can win. It’s like the dancing games in the arcades (remember those?), but with a controller and your TV.
On Apple TV or Android, it’s Just Dance Now, a mobile variation that will let you dance with your phone (don’t let go!) and have those movements tracked to the game in much the same way.
In either version, it’s a dancing game made for one to four players, and encourages you to get up and moving with the family.
Available on: Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch
Less a game for the big screen and more for every screen Fortnight is a player-versus-player free-for-all that is, also, free.
This is one you’ll clearly have heard of, whether in the news or through your kids, because it’s one a lot of people are playing, and one you can join in on the action with some fairly family friendly fun.
Depending on how familiar you are with games, parents mightn’t be the best at it to begin with, but give yourself some time and you might be able to turn a Fortnite Night into a regular Friday in your household.
Available on: Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox, macOS, Windows PC
This one’s a bit of a classic and much like Fortnite does need a screen for each person, but it’s a game that works on everything and is about as family friendly as it gets.
Build a blocky world, create things, fight other players, and ultimately play with and against family members inside your home, or even others from outside, in a game that has been out now for nearly a decade.
In that time, Minecraft has made it out to nearly every major platform, and even exists in a “learn to code” variation, so if you’re looking for a way to get the kids into making apps, they can jump from one family game right into an education version, as well.