How to play games together while social distancing

how to play games together while social distancing fortnite

In this era of social distancing, gaming is more powerful and more important than ever before, offering not only a valuable source of indoor entertainment, but also a crucial way to stay connected with friends, family, and loved ones.

Because, while a phone call is all well and good, games have the capacity to bring people together through shared experiences of excitement, euphoria, and exhilaration. Or shared arguments over who should’ve won that last game of FIFA.

Fortunately, there are all sorts of ways to play together while keeping your distance, so we decided to run through a handful of the options – from the obvious allure of online gaming to how to host your own virtual Jackbox party.

In this era of social distancing, gaming is more powerful and more important than ever before, offering not only a valuable source of indoor entertainment, but also a crucial way to stay connected with friends, family, and loved ones.

Fortunately, there are all sorts of ways to play together while keeping your distance, so we decided to run through a handful of the options – from the obvious allure of online gaming to how to host your own virtual Jackbox party.

Online multiplayer

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The most obvious way of using games to stay connected with friends and loved ones while social distancing is through online gaming, and thankfully there’s never been a better range of networked games to choose from – just make sure that you optimise your online gaming setup first.

The Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch all support online play through Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and the Nintendo Switch Online service respectively. To make the most of these services, you’ll need an Xbox Live Gold subscription, a PlayStation Plus subscription, or a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, but once that’s sorted you’ll be able to choose from an enormous range of games to play online with friends. If you’re playing on PC, it’s even easier, with online play typically available on a game-by-game basis with no need for subscriptions.

The range of online gaming experiences is too vast for comprehensive recommendations here, but the recently released Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal both support online play. Meanwhile, if you’re strapped for cash, free-to-play titles such as Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone offer hundreds of hours of entertainment with no obligation to splash out – although you’ll want to arm yourself with one of the best gaming headsets to make sure you can hear enemy movement and your friends’ voices loud and clear.

Houseparty

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You’ve probably heard of the Houseparty – the app that lets you seamlessly hop into group video calls with groups of friends – but you might not have realised that it’s owned by the makers of Fortnite, Epic Games.

It stands to reason, then, that Houseparty would be home to games as well as just video conferencing. There’s Heads Up, in which one player has to guess the card that’s on their head while their friends given clues. Chips and Guac, which asks players to draw on their word association skills to come up with the funniest combinations of prompt and answer, and then there’s Quick Draw, which is essentially long-distance Pictionary.

So, download the app, get your friends on board, and play a few games together.

Virtual Jackbox parties

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The Jackbox Party Pack series has long been a favourite for local multiplayer gatherings, in part because it can be enjoyed by almost anyone, regardless of their gaming prowess. The setup is simple – you’re all gathered around a single screen and use you smartphones to answer trivia questions or submit answers to a range of hilarious social games.

You’d think that this kind of local multiplayer experience would be nigh-on impossible to recreate online, but it’s actually a doddle if you make use of the screen-sharing features of many popular video conferencing software. If the host simply shares their display while running the Jackbox game, everyone can join the game by navigating to a dedicated URL and entering a room code. It’s super simple, and it’s all explained in game.

From here, you can play just as you would in the same room.

Steam Remote Play Together

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Remote Play Together is a relatively recent addition to Steam, but it’s proving invaluable right now. Essentially, Remote Play Together lets you share local multiplayer games with your friends over the internet.

So, let’s say that you’re in the mood for a round of four-player archery arcade shenanigans in Towerfall. Normally, you’d need four players with four controllers in the same room. But with Steam Remote Play Together, one player owns and runs the game, and then simply invites their friends. It’s incredibly straightforward, and assuming you have a fast and stable connection, it can work brilliantly.

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