Quarantining and Board Games

Games come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors, languages and themes, but one constant variable stretches across them all: Players must be in the same room as one another while playing. Our current world circumstances, plagued with the possibility of COVID-19 infection, renders this one prerequisite for gaming nearly impossible to fulfill—not to mention the inability to wipe down every single piece between rounds. Rather than feel discouraged, take comfort in the fact that modern gaming can stretch across households if you get a little inventive. Here are a few ways to try:

Bust out your Photoshop skills

Current video chat technology allows for the sharing of computer screens, and this feature opens the possibility that multiple friends can view your makeshift Trivial Pursuit board, crafted in Adobe Photoshop, no matter where they’re located. The creation of a game board doesn’t require an extensive knowledge of design software. Simply snap a photo of a board—or better yet scan, if you have access—and create a few little colored circles to serve as pieces, each of which can be moved around the board using your cursor. The host can move for others and players can roll their own dice from the comfort of their own homes; likely everyone has one or two lying around. As long as one of the players has the game itself, they can hold up cards to the camera for others to read. This whole process gives off the impression of a homespun game night without leaving the house, and leaves little room for players to only half pay attention.

Head online

While there’s no true substitute for playing a board game on an actual board, some websites are doing their part to spread gaming across the internet by making their own virtual versions of games. Board Game Arena, for example, offers players the chance at a round of Puerto Rico or Carcassone without the added hassle of remembering all the rules or tracking each of the cards. Their graphic interface isn’t the most intuitive of its kind but the rules are embedded in the software, meaning no player can make an illegal move or otherwise cheat in any way. Playing on sites like this is a unifying experience: All the pertinent statistics of the other players, like how many victory points they’ve accrued thus far, are always displayed. Some games even include timers and alerts to notify players when it’s their turn, simulating your nagging and bothering from across the world wide web.

Make your own game

Now feels like a great time to make progress on whatever pet project you’ve been dreaming about, and game creation promises to fill the gaming void lost by quarantine. Friends may not be available to arrive at your house ready to game, but they can certainly provide feedback on written rules for a game of your own making or talk you through the visual design of the characters. Working on a game also affords you an excuse to reach out to people and work independently in the interim, much like a group of writers would motivate each other to complete their tasks via accountability. Plus, while it’s nearly impossible to plow through every game in your library when gathering a group of friends in real life—schedules can be a nightmare—it’s very manageable to play each one on your own, pull some of your favorite concepts and repurpose them into something you can share when this is all over and social distancing walls come down. Also: Use this time to make some inroads with local board game design groups so they’ll be pumped to try your game at a later date.

How are you surviving your quarantine? Let us know in the comments below!

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