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Here's how you can host a virtual game night over video chat if you're stuck inside and missing your friends while social distancing

© "Jackbox Party Pack 6" / Jackbox Games

By Lisa Eadicicco, Business Insider

  • Jackbox Games offers a variety of party games that involve trivia, drawing contests, and fill-in-the-blank style guessing that can easily be played remotely with friends.
  • All you need is a laptop and a smartphone to participate, and only one person needs to own the game for everyone to play.
  • The host will run the game from their laptop and share his or her screen with everyone else via a teleconferencing app like Google Hangouts.

You don't have to see your friends in person to host a game night.

If you're looking for a good way to connect with friends while remaining indoors during the coronavirus pandemic, you might want to check out Jackbox Games.

From the same company behind the "You Don't Know Jack" series popular in the 1990s, Jackbox Games offers packs of party games centered on challenges that involve trivia, fill-in-the-blank-style guessing, and drawing contests that can be played across smartphones, TVs, computers, and video game consoles.

Since players can participate in Jackbox games simply by navigating to a website on their smartphone's web browser and do not need to have the game installed, it's a relatively easy option for hosting a virtual game night. The only person who needs to actually own the game is the person hosting it.

You don't have to worry about using the same game console or platform to play together remotely - all you need is a smartphone and a laptop or desktop computer.

Here's how to do it.


Start a video call on Google Hangouts on your computer.

© Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

To connect with your friends before the game, start a video call on a service like Google Hangouts.

To get started on Hangouts, just navigate to https://ift.tt/13QW17L on your laptop or desktop, start a new group chat, and click the video call icon located in your group chat window.

For more detailed instructions on how to start a video call on Hangouts, check out our step-by-step guide here.

You don't have to use Hangouts - any video calling app with built-in screen sharing should work.

If you're using Hangouts, I'd recommend using Chrome. Google's web browser offers the option to only share a specific application - in this case, the game - with others and not your entire screen. That makes it easy to keep an eye on your video call and the game at the same time.


Open your Jackbox game on your computer

© Jackbox Games

Launch whichever Jackbox game you wish to play on your laptop. If you have a Jackbox game on another platform, like PlayStation or Xbox, you'll have to purchase it again on Mac or PC if you're trying to play through your computer.


Share your screen in Google Hangouts so everyone can see the game.

© Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

Go back to your Google Hangouts chat, and click the screen sharing option to share the game with your friends. You can share your screen by clicking the 3 dots stacked on top of one another in the top-right corner of the screen and choosing the "Screen Share" option.

If you're using Google Chrome, you'll see a window asking whether you'd like to share your whole screen or just a specific application window. I'd recommend only sharing the Jackbox application so that you can keep both the game and the window with your video chat on screen simultaneously without sharing both with the whole group.

Once the game is set up, your friends will then be able to join the game by navigating to jackbox.tv and entering the code displayed on the screen you're sharing, just as if they were there in person.

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Unplugged Magazine: Here's how you can host a virtual game night over video chat if you're stuck inside and missing your friends while social distancing
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