(Pocket-lint) - We're all turning to video conferencing to stay in touch with people. Less time going out, more time online, with many choosing Zoom to keep themselves entertained.
There's lots of reasons why Zoom has floated to the top of the video conferencing pile, not least because in its basic form it's free to use - although Google Meet might offer a practical alternative that's also free.
But what can you do on Zoom? Here's some ideas to keep yourself entertained.
The classic quiz
We've written a lot about how to host a quiz on Zoom, but it's a perfect use of the what was originally a business tool. Being able to share a presentation from your computer, including music, means you can basically run a quiz really easily - with the advantage of being able to reach out to lots of people at the same time. It's great for 15-20 people in different teams to get involved, so don't be scared to think big!
A classic parlour game, you can really take advantage of video conferencing to get Charades working. You'll need to have a bit of performance space - and plenty of light so the video isn't too grainy - but using something like a Charades generator on your phone, you can easily have the performer come up with an idea and act it out for the rest of their team to guess. Those on the video call can watch, keep track of time and make sure there's no cheating! If you both happen to have a set of Charades cards at home, even better. It's an ideal game to bring two halves of a separated family together, and great for kids to get involved.
Another simple game that works really well via Zoom, which has a whiteboard function built-in. To access this, simply start Zoom and hit the share screen button and you'll see the option for the whiteboard. There's a lot of functions on there and you'll have to decide exactly what you can use (don't just write it…), but there's scope to have a little more fun as you're drawing your answer. You can either draw for everyone to guess, or work in teams on either side across different homes. It's great fun for kids and adults alike and you can either use cards from a Pictionary set at home, or use an online word generator on your phone.
If you really want to get the kids excited, then scavenger hunts work really well. You'll need a big group, or lots of kids across a number of different houses, and one person as the host. The host simply calls out what they need to find, sending the kids running through the house to get what's been asked for - a spoon, something pink, your duvet. It's best if parents stay out of the way - just let Grandma call out the treasures that the grandchildren need to find.
Oh yes, if you've got about 20 people, then Zoom is perfect for play Guess Who? You'll have to have access to Gallery view for this to work. It also works really well with the Scavenger Hunt above and we'll now explain why. You'll need someone to control the game, with everyone else being participants. To make sure people look different, it's great to have hats, glasses, scarves and other accessories - which is how the Scavenger Hunt comes in (the hunt can be to find a hat, find sunglasses, etc) before making sure that you have all the participants looking slightly different.
The game controller than chooses the person the others are trying to guess - but doesn't tell anyone. Then you play through the game as you usually would, with each participant taking turns to ask those common questions - is it a girl, is it a boy, do they have a beard, are they wearing a hat and so on. The controller answers those yes or no questions. To eliminate people from the game (like flipping down the picture card in Guess Who?) they just turn off their camera, leaving those remaining characters still in the game. Through a process of elimination you can get down to the last character.
When someone is eliminated, they can still take a turn guessing and the controller just needs to make sure that the right people have turned off their camera to keep the game moving along. It's a great game for groups of kids.
Another fun family board game, Articulate! sees players describing words for others to guess. Of course, you can't say what the word is, you need to use your language. This works well when you have lots of people in different places, with the host or gamemaster able to send the words through either via a direct message in Zoom (using the Chat function) if people are in different houses, or if you have groups of people in the same place, via their phones. It's really just about getting everyone involved.
To something a little calmer, chess is an easy game to play over Zoom. Of course, you can play chess online already, or via any form of messaging, but sitting down to spend some time talking to a distant loved one, both of you with a chess board, will bring you closer together. Just remember to move the pieces on both boards so you know what's going on. Best of all, you can play over a number of days - just leave the board setup with all those pieces in place. That at least gives you time to plan your winning strategy.
It's interactive, it's fun and it's (almost) easy for all ages. Just make sure you both have a printed grid so you know what you're shooting then simply read out the reference for the square you want to hit and mark it off. Top tip here is to keep track of where you've fired on the enemy so you don't end up hitting the same square more than once!
Probably the most popular board game, almost everyone has Monopoly. Like chess above, all you have to do is set it up, make a space for the computer so that it's a shared experience and play away. Sure, you'll need two bankers, one in each room, who will also need to make sure there aren't people on both teams trying to buy Mayfair, and make sure that these remote transactions between players works. You'll also need to move around the board in both locations and put out those houses as they get built. Yes, some of the Chance Cards and Community Chest Cards will be duplicated, and some parts of the game won't quite work - but who cares?