Playing Together While Apart: Best Ways to Play Games While Social Distancing

Games are a conundrum these days. While many are practicing safe social distancing, they have more free time than ever. It might sound like a great idea to play games with friends, but it’s not.

The problem is that games, by their very nature, are social and rely on (most times) people to interact face-to-face. That’s why we at The Rook Room love them. But right now, that interaction is the worst thing people could be doing.

So, is there a way to indulge your love of games with friends while also keeping people healthy by social distancing?

Thanks to technology and some crafty ingenuity, there are more ways to play than ever before (and if you need help finding people to play with or just chatting, try our Discord server). Here are some of our recommendations:

Video Chat

Video chat isn’t just for workplace conference calls and FaceTime with Aunt Margaret. It can also be great for games that don’t require a lot of moving parts like party games or RPGs.

It might be a bit difficult (though not impossible) to coordinate a game of Monopoly over video chat, but it’s perfect for a game of Cards Against Humanity or What Do You Meme – games based more around social interaction than little pieces moving around a game board (psst…did you know The Rook Room is streaming Jackbox games throughout the week?).

Speaking of perfect, video chat is also a great solution for role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder. These games are based on storytelling and communicating what you’re character is doing, which can be easily relayed over video chat. The few physical elements needed (like dice or handbooks) most people already have anyway. Though there are other options for your campaigns that we’ll touch on below.

Best options: Google Hangouts, Discord, Skype, Slack, Facebook Messenger, and many more.

Digital Versions

At The Rook Room, we’re all about face-to-face interaction. We encourage people to get their face out of the screen and be in the moment with others. But…that’s not always possible. The next best thing? Digital versions of the games you love.

Many game producers (especially the bigger ones) make digital versions of their most popular games. Wingspan, Catan, Ticket to Ride, Scythe, and many, many, many more have apps you can purchase. Most of these let you play with friends (which is awesome) or even solo against computer players (still pretty darn fun).

One silver lining about social distancing is that some of the companies that make these games are giving them away for free right now. So take advantage and download what you can. Whatever we come across, we’ll add it to this article below!

Tabletop Simulators

What’s better than one game you love? How about a bunch of games you love? Introducing tabletop simulators. Like a little game library that offers the opportunity to play even some of the most complicated games online with friends.

Many tabletop simulators act like a virtual game table and allow you to see the setup as you would if you were there in real life. It’s basically the next best thing to being there.

They can run the gamut on cost and quality, but usually, the price point isn’t too much of a hindrance.

Best options: Tabletopia, Tabletop Simulator on Steam, Board Game Arena

For Your D&D Campaign

Like we mentioned before, video chat software is great for making sure your D&D campaign continues. But there are a few other tools we wanted to mention that can make that experience even better.

If you really want to up your game with virtual dice, character trackers, maps, and more give a try. It offers all of the above on top of video, voice, and text chat. Even when there’s no need for social distancing, it’s still great for long-distance friends.

We’re also a big fan of D&D Beyond, an easy-to-use, free toolset for all your character needs. From character creation to weapons, spells, rules, and resources, it has you covered and lets you spend more time playing and less time updating your character sheet.

Best Deals We’re Seeing

We’re seeing a lot of game companies put out their games for cheap or free right now to help people with social distancing. So as we see some of those awesome deals, we’ll update them here: