If you’re like me, you may remember a time—10 years ago or just three weeks ago—where you deplored how much time your kid or friend was spending playing video games. Turns out, right now, it may not be such a bad way to spend some of your enforced time at home, at least if you are taking part in multi-player games that bring you together—from a safe distance—with friends or acquaintances who are also gamers.
Since I never had any skills at such games myself, I turned to our former editorial intern, Sarafina Murphy Gibson, for ideas. She shared with me not only what she herself is playing at home these days but what others in her gaming community are exploring right now. For all you gamers out there, a few of these may be familiar, but perhaps you’ll find a new one to enjoy.
To keep the interaction up to the minute, people often hook up a Skype, Zoom, Discord or Facebook live chat simultaneously while playing a game.
Minecraft. Good for all ages. You can set up a private realm for world-building with friends. This is a classic computer games that doesn’t require a gaming system to play, but you do have to pay about $30 for the game itself.
Animal Crossing. This newish release on Nintendo Switch, where you turn a deserted island into a town full of animal neighbors, is massively popular; even non-gamers are loving it.
Super Smash Bros. Super Smash is a fighting game where you can pick from tons of iconic characters (from Link to a Wii Fit avatar) to battle it out in all sorts of arenas.
Fortnite. There are different modes of play, but the most popular is one where 100 players simultaneously battle each other until the last one is left standing. You can talk to other players in combat and play across many platforms together.
Fallout 76. Sarafina admits this is a glitchy game, but she loves it anyway (she says it’s coming out with a big expansion soon that people are greatly anticipating). It’s an open-world post-apocalyptic story game with a “million” side quests. Plus, she says, “You can build a cool base for yourself a la the Sims, find cool in-game fashion and partner up with friends. You bump into strangers all the time in the game, which leads to a variety of interactions.”
Borderlands 3: A space-themed open-world first-person shooter game that’s been around a while and is super popular. You’re trying to protect the galaxy from a crazed cult, “Children of the Vault.”
Destiny 2. This is essentially a "classy” version of Borderlands, my expert says, a beautifully designed, first-person shooter game where you can choose to play PvE (Player vs. Environment) or PvP (Player vs. Player).
Man of Medan: “This looks super rad,” says Sarafina. It’s about survival horror on a haunted ship and feels like a “Choose your Own Adventure” novel brought to life. Play alone or with a group.
Jackbox Games. OK, this is one I even played over the holidays in December! Only one person has to own the game for everyone to play; the host sets up a shared screen on Zoom or something similar and then everyone plays along on their own phone or tablet. In one game, Fibbage, you invent lies and people have to guess if you’re lying or telling the truth; another game, Drawful, is a game of awful drawings (I excelled at that one!) Sarafina says it’s half off the regular price right now, but check to be sure.
What are you playing right now? Any suggestions?