Fun, zero preparation activities for remote teams
In the very early days of COVID-19, I met with Benny Schnaider whom we are lucky to have as one of our incredible investors, who is also an entrepreneur himself. He mentioned that their HR team had organized an online game session for their team. How didn’t I think of it? I quickly picked up on the idea and got to play quite a few online games with my team since then. It turned out to be a great success.
Some of the games I will list below only allow for a small number of players per group, others are paid, but all are super fun. Most of the games here require almost no preparation — which makes it an excellent fit for busy leaders ;-) though I do recommend trying them out by yourself first, of course.
Our team has doubled in size over the last couple of months, and games turned out to be a great help in team building. It let us take some time off and appreciate how that growth made us a more powerful and multi-talented group — not just in getting features developed but also in having some pure fun.
So if you also have a team working remotely like I do, and looking to have some fun, here’s a list I’ve gathered of some of the games we had the pleasure to play together.
Before we go into that list, I do want to talk about preparing for team games in general for a second. Almost all games require that each participant has their own device, which is fairly obvious. Yet, you may not want to miss out on a few of the games which require printing stuff out. And while not strictly required, it’s best to have an online video session open (e.g. Zoom, Google Meet, and the like) so everyone can see each other, talk, shout and get excited — as close to having everyone physically is in the same room together.
Now that we’re all set, here are my suggestions. I’m not associated in any way with any of these game publishers. We just like them :-)
1. Curve Fever
Curve Fever is like the good old Snake game — except it’s online, on steroids and multiplayer. It’s a pretty quick and high-speed game, so you can play it even on a fifteen-minute break. It does take a few rounds for people to get the rules and adjust to the fast pace, so I suggest that you set aside enough time for your first session.
Number of players: 2–6
Haxball is an excellent multiplayer soccer game, focused on teamwork. You create a room, send its unique link out to your colleagues, divide people into teams and boom — the game is live. No complex team setup for better or worse ;-)
Price: Free! It’s as indie as it gets.
Number of players: 2–6
The next four recommendations are created by the same company, Jackbox. They’ve released quite a few party games over time — below are a few of those we had the most fun with.
Fibbage is the lying, bluffing, fib-till-you-win trivia party game. It’s hilarious, fast-paced entertainment with a great soundtrack and compelling graphics. In each game round, participants are presented with an oddball trivia question, and each player has to make up their own hopefully-believable answer. Then, all participants take a guess at the correct answer. The one who’s been able to fool others while guessing the right answers the most wins.
Price: currently sold for $4.99
Number of players: 2–8
4. Fibbage: Enough About You
Fibbage: Enough About You is a feature of Fibbage 3. It’s a game mode where people get to know each other, with fun facts being revealed, such as your most unfavorable food or bizarre childhood experiences.
Price: it can only be purchased as part of the “Party Pack 4” bundle, which also includes my next item in the list.
(5) Civil Doodle
Civil Doodle is a drawing contest in the Party Pack 4 bundle, and it’s not a simple head-to-head kind. Rather, it’s all about players in the team continuing to build on the drawings of one another. The effect is a bit hard to describe, but it’s been a sure source of countless jokes and creativity for our team.
6. Drawful 2
If you don’t want to purchase a whole bundle, Drawful 2 is a standalone game that challenges players to draw stuff on their smartphones and tablets and having the others fall for your ridiculous labels of others’ work.
Price: currently on sale for $4.99
Number of players: 2–8
7. Escape Team
Escape Team is a hybrid digital-physical game where you and your team work together to solve a series of real-world puzzles with scissors, pen and paper (i.e. printer is needed!), rushing to beat the countdown on your mobile device. The app checks your answers and can provide hints when you’re stuck.
It is the only game on this list which we played while being all in the same room, but I’m sure it can still be great fun even when fully remote as the puzzles can be done in parallel and with video cameras on you are good to go. The game works best in small teams of 3–4 people, so for larger teams it’s best to split into groups and have each one its own virtual room.
Cost: there’s a free version, and then it’s $0.99 for each additional mission.
Number of players: groups of 3–4 players
8. This is Quebec
This is Quebec is a whole different experience from the rest of this list. It’s an online trip to Quebec City via Google Earth, getting to know and appreciate the city while solving riddles. You’ll be zooming out, zooming in, going in and out of street view, measuring distances, and generally spinning around trying to crack each cryptic riddle. If you’re going for this adventure, set aside a full two hours to complete it and split the team to groups of 3–4 people each. Not a fit for a short & casual game break, but offers a different kind of reward.
Cost: per player, depends on group size
Website: travelandquest.com/en/player-explore-quest?questId=1XF8ZaRPZJsAkgTltg72 (you’ll also find a bunch of similar geo-experiences on this website, created by various individual creators)
Number of players: groups of 3–4 players are best
Do you have your own recommendations for us? We’re always looking for new games to play, so please share yours in the comments!