COVID-19 (better known as the coronavirus) has forced all of us into social isolation. And you can only play so many single player games before you eventually miss hanging out in “meatspace” with your buddies.
You can recreate such hangouts by hosting themed parties with your buddies on Zoom, Skype, or other apps. But what if you want to play some silly party games while you’re at it? In that case, Jackbox Games is here to save your sanity.
This company specializes in party games where everyone plays with smartphones instead of controllers. While these games are great to play around a TV, more and more players are discovering that they make for the perfect games to play with friends via streaming.
Ready to take your digital hangouts to the next level? Check out our setup guide and then explore these eight awesome Jackbox games!
Before You Get Started
Using smartphones as controllers and setting up a stream may seem very new to you. Fortunately, you can get started in a few easy steps.
First, you’ll need a game. While you can purchase these games separately, you get the most value by purchasing Jackbox Party Packs. These packs offer several different Jackbox Games for one low price. Remember, only the person streaming the game needs to own a copy.
Second, you’ll need streaming capabilities. We recommend using Twitch for both PC and console streaming. As of this writing, Twitch has better latency and more options than competitors like Mixer, and Twitch streaming tends to be smoother. You’ll need to register an account before you can start broadcasting.
Third, you’ll want to tweak the games themselves. Most Jackbox Games have settings you can toggle such as extended timers (perfect for streaming delays) and family-friendly modes (to help avoid awkward prompts or scandalous user answers).
Now, you can start a game and start streaming. Once your friends tune into the stream, they simply head to jackbox.tv on their phone or tablet and enter in the room code. From here, they can use their mobile device as a controller and follow the onscreen prompts!
Make sure everyone has a way to talk while gaming. Discord is a great way to talk, but you can also use other apps. My crew makes group phone calls through the Facebook Instant Messenger, which is a great option if you already have a group chat going.
What should you play first, then? Here are a few of our favorites.
Drawful (and its sequel, Drawful 2) is a perfect party game. Each player gets a silly prompt to draw on their screen. The catch? You can’t erase anything and you’re limited to a single default color (you can choose between two colors in Drawful 2).
After that, the game displays one piece of player art at a time. The artist gets to sit back while others enter in lies about what the prompt was. After that, players must choose what the actual prompt was. The artist gets points for each person who correctly guesses. Everyone else gets points for getting it right and points for fooling other players.
Fibbage (and its many sequels — I’m partial to Fibbage 3) is a bit like the trivia version of Drawful. Everyone gets the same trivia question and then enters in fake answers. You get points for guessing the correct answer and you get points for fooling the other players.
It’s a simple concept, but winning games means knowing how your best friends’ minds work. This is the kind of game that may just bring you closer together during social isolation.
The one downside of Jackbox Games is that a few of them are a bit complex. Sometimes, you just want to recreate a casual trivia vibe in the middle of your Zoom drinking party.
In that case, Quiplash and its sequels (Quiplash XL and Quiplash 2) is what you’re looking for. You get silly questions, enter sillier answers, and players vote on the best one.
It’s not the most detailed or complex party game. At the same time, it’s the most accessible, making it a fun way to lure your friends in for more stream gaming in the future.
Survive the Internet
Survive the Internet is pretty weird, even by Jackbox standards. It combines the aesthetic of late ’90s internet with the humor and sensibilities of modern social media.
Players get basic prompts and put in answers. Opponents then get a chance to twist their words, and then everyone votes on the best “burns.” As with most Jackbox games, this one can stay nice and clean or get weird and dirty quite quickly. It all comes down to who you’re playing with!
Trivia Murder Party
What do you get if you mix a trivia game with the Saw series of movies? You get Trivia Murder Party (and its sequel, Trivia Murder Party 2).
The conceit of this game is that players have been kidnapped by a murderous host. If you get his trivia questions right, you proceed to the next round. But any players who get them wrong must compete in lethal games that can result in mutilation (losing a finger, which keeps you from selecting certain multiple choice answers) or death.
Dead players can still win, though. The final round involves the living and the dead trying to escape their captor and win the game.
Mad Verse City
I’ve got three words for you: “Transformers Rap Battle.” If that sounds exciting, you need to go download Mad Verse City right now!
In this game, invading robots challenge each other to intense rap battles. And you, the players, are creating their “mad” verses. Best of all, you get to hear your robotic avatar actually speak each lyric!
Other players can cheer or boo your spittin’ and help determine who won the rap battle. Ultimately, this 8 Mile/Transformers mashup is a game like nothing you’ve ever played.
Ever see a really dumb invention and thought “I could make something better than that”? If so, the Patently Stupid game is your chance to prove it!
In this game, players fill in prompts to create problems that need solving. Afterward, players must create inventions to solve a problem, creating illustrations and making presentations to help sell the idea to others.
“Sell” is literal, as players can invest in the inventions they like best. Winners get extra cash, and investors get to make a profit off of successful investments.
You Don’t Know Jack
In more ways than one, You Don’t Know Jack is the game that started it all. This was the name of several popular late ’90s trivia video games. And when the team went “all in” on their brand of mobile gaming, You Don’t Know Jack was their first release..
This is a smaller game than others on the list, with a maximum of 4 players. The sequel (You Don’t Know Jack: Full Stream) supports up to 8 players and is better for (what else?) streaming.
In this game, each person answers trivia questions for virtual money. You get more money for quicker answers but lose cash for incorrect answers. And the questions themselves effortlessly mix traditional trivia with pop culture trivia.
You also have a limited number of “screws” that you can use on other players to force an immediate answer out of them. This adds a more cutthroat and competitive element that will keep your friends coming back for “just one more game.”