Tech

17 Zoom Games You Can Play With 6 People Or Less

Video chat fatigue be gone!

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New year, same socially-distanced, remotely-working, masked-up us. As we begin the year with more-than-familiar video calls and virtual happy hours, finding Zoom games for small groups has never been more necessary. Fortunately, there are plenty of easily accessible activities to keep your Zoom calls fun. Or, at the very least, free of awkward silences where you're staring at each other's little squares, wondering who will talk first.

If you're feeling video chat fatigue, you are far from alone. Eight hours of Zoom calls for work followed by an online happy hour or two quickly add up to much of your day spent in front of a screen. First and foremost, you are allowed to say no to virtual hangouts. Like in the Before Times, you needn’t spend every waking hour having face time with every one of your friends or family members. Check in with loved ones as you can, but make sure you're taking time for yourself, too. Besides, if there’s one thing that the pandemic hasn’t changed, it’s how good it feels to cancel plans.

From word games to watch parties, here are 17 Zoom games and activities you can play with less than six people. They are the Zoom exhaustion antidote you seek.

1
Backyard.co

Backyard.co is going to save your next Zoom call. The site has 18 different games that you can play with anywhere from one to 12 people. There's chess. There are crossword puzzles. There's Wordplay, a Cards Against Humanity-style game. Basically, there's something for everyone and it's free.

2
Say The Same Word

Also known as "Mind Meld," this game is as simple as the title implies. Pick two people to start. After a countdown from three, they say a word at the same time. It any be any word. Banana. Hairdo. Garbage. Then, one person from the pair and a new person have to say a word that applies to both words. For example, if the words were "lipstick" and "trumpet," a joining word could be "mouth." Keep going until two people say the exact same word.

3
Scattergories

If it's been a while since you've played the classic word game, you'll want to play Scattegories online during your next Zoom hangout. If you've never played, you get a list of categories and a letter. Everyone has to think of an answer for each category that starts with the designated letter. You get a point for every original answer. If you have the same answer as another player, neither of you get that point. As a bonus, it builds in a few minutes of intentional silence.

4
Watch Party

While not a game per se, an organized watch party is an easy way to spend some low-key time together. Find a show to start together or a movie you've all been meaning to watch. You can use services like Netflix Party or Hulu Watch Party. And you could always turn it into a drinking game.

5
Wikipedia Races

A personal favorite of mine, this game has to race through hyperlinks on Wikipedia to get to a specific Wikipedia page. Pick a random page to start on. Then, decide which Wikipedia page you want everyone to get to. The catch? You can only click on hyperlinks to get from page to page. No back button. No ctrl-f to search for specific words.

6
Solve A Crossword Together

Perfect for a chill Zoom call with a few people, have someone share their screen and work together to solve a crossword. If nothing else, it's an excuse to finally get that New York Times crossword subscription.

7
PowerPoint Night

PowerPoint parties are... exactly what they sound like. Everyone makes a PowerPoint on whatever they want. It could be An Exploration of Shadow the Hedgehog's True Moral Compass. It could be about which cartoon characters are the hottest. The world is your PowerPoint-making oyster.

8
Wavelength

Want to see just how well you can read your friends' minds? Wavelength is a board game and app where you give a clue to that falls somewhere between two concepts: safe/dangerous, high brow/low brow, hard/soft. Your partner's job is to figure out where that clue falls on the spectrum. (e.g. on a scale of "safe" to "dangerous" where does "texting while driving" fall?) It makes sense when you see it, like in this video from Polygon.

9
Imaginary Hide-and-Seek

Similar to 20 Questions, the way you play this game is relatively simple. One person thinks of a place to "hide." It can be anywhere: your garage, the top of the Eiffel Tower, in the firepit on Love Island. Then, the rest of the group takes turns asking yes/no questions in order to figure out just where you're hidden.

10
Heads Up!

Bust out the Heads Up! app you've had on your phone for years. Now is the time to put it to good use.

11
Penumbra

A penumbra is the shadowed, though not entirely dark, part of an eclipse. Similarly, the game Penumbra is about stumping people by with a name you think they'll recognize but not be able to identify how exactly they know it. It's that tip-of-your-tongue-can't-remember-but-almost-do feeling as a game. The goal is to give a name that isn't so obvious that everyone gets it but isn't so obscure that no one knows. For example, if I say "Harry Potter," you'll most likely know exactly who that is. If I say, "Ava Aquino," you definitely won't know who that is because that is my dog. But maybe someone like Kristen Johnson or Judy Greer would be recognizable but harder to place.

12
Telephone

One person turns off their microphone and says a short phrase to the next person. (No peeking from the other participants.) Once that person thinks they've got it, they mute themselves and tell the next person. Repeat until everyone has "heard" the secret phrase. The last person says what they think the phrase is aloud.

13
Box of Lies

A la Jimmy Fallon's game on The Tonight Show, everyone prepares a weird object diorama of sorts. Then, with the object off-screen you go around the Zoom call either describing your object or making up something else entirely. Everyone guesses whether you're telling the truth or lying. Alternatively, if you don't want to gather objects, you could just find the most buckwild gifs and describe (or lie about) those.

14
Trivia

Either make your own game using a site like Trivia Maker or use an app like Houseparty, which has differently themed trivia decks.

15
Most Likely To

The senior superlatives those cowards in yearbook were too scared to include! You can use a list of "Most Likely To" prompts or just make them up as you go. Read a prompt. Everyone thinks about who in the group the prompt best fits. On the count of three everyone says or holds up a piece of paper with one person's name. As a bonus, you can add a block rule to the game. If someone thinks they're going to get chosen, instead of giving a name on the count of three, they say "block." Then, everyone else loses/has to drink.

16
Mario Kart

Put that Nintendo Switch you got at the beginning of quarantine to good use. Your Zoom call will henceforth be used only for trash talk.

17
Brightful
Shutterstock

Like Backyard.co, Brightful is a free hosting site with a dozen of different games from Would You Rather to rummy to trivia. You can even customize your games to fit your group.

If all else fails, turn the call itself into a drinking game. Whenever someone's video freezes, a kid or pet is screaming in the background, or someone is unintentionally muted, you drink.