Unplug and Play for the Global Day of Unplugging

Did you know today is officially the Global Day of Unplugging? Sounds made up, right?

It’s actually been around since 2009 (formerly the National Day of Unplugging) encouraging people to put down their tech and be present with others. And if you know anything about us here at The Rook Room, you know that’s right in our wheelhouse – creating community around accessibility, sustainability, and inclusion through play!

Feeling Lonely? You’re Not Alone

Part of the mission of Unplug Collaborative – the organization behind the Global Day of Unplugging – is “to answer the U.S. Surgeon General’s call-to-action to end loneliness,” according to the org’s website.

That same advisory is central to our mission at The Rook Room and something we’ve studied quite a bit as we work to tackle the problem of loneliness in our central Iowa community.

The advisory is a pretty long read, but here are the main takeaways:

  • While technology is critical to our lives, it’s leaving us more disconnected than ever before.
  • The global COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help with more people than ever working from home.
  • According to the U.S. Surgeon General, “Social connection is a fundamental human need, as essential to survival as food, water, and shelter.”
  • And a lack of social connection can lead to increased risks of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, anxiety, depression, and dementia; leave you more susceptible to getting sick; and lead to lower performance and school and work – again, according the the advisory.

In summary: a lack of social connection can be pretty bad.

And unfortunately, research shows that one in every two U.S. adults is living with some degree of loneliness. That’s half of us!

So What’s the Cure?

Okay, so enough of the doom and gloom. What can we be doing to help prevent loneliness and increase social interaction?

The Surgeon General’s site gives a number of suggestions, including volunteering, civic engagement, and participating in social, community, and hobby groups.

That’s where we come in! One suggestion supported by both the Surgeon General and the Global Day of Unplugging is GAMES – something we consider ourselves pretty good at.

Games for Making Friends, Not Enemies

So to help give you some ideas on what to play when you put down the tech, here’s a list of some of the games we recommend for helping to strengthen those in-person relationships while (hopefully) making sure everyone leaves the table happy!

Forbidden Games

Forbidden Island, Forbidden Sky, Forbidden Desert, Forbidden Jungle – so many to choose from! But all have the same general mechanic: work with your friends to solve puzzles, avoid enemies, battle against nature, and escape before time runs out. Perfect for strategy lovers who don’t want to directly compete.

Sky Team

Want cooperation but with less talking? This recent two-player co-op puts you in the pilot (and co-pilot) seat to land a plane. You must manage speed, altitude, axis, plane mechanics, and even your coffee intake. The snag? You can’t communicate with your partner during the round. Nothing brings you closer than stressful silence (for real though, it’s really fun).


This whole list can’t be cooperative games. So instead, take a look at Wingspan – an in-directly competitive strategy game all about attracting birds to your habitats. But the real charm of this one comes from the immaculate art and bonding with your friends while reading bird facts off of each card. Bonus points if you can replicate the bird call!

Letter Jam

For all the word nerds out there, here’s a cooperative game where you and your friends work to determine what letter cards you have in your hand and unscramble them before the game ends. The information asymmetry in this game poses a creative challenge that will only help to bring everyone closer together.

Magic Maze

Another cooperative game with communication limits that tests those bonds of friendship. You and your friends collectively control a group of shoplifting wizards without speaking. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to communicate that don’t involve talking. Get out of the mall with your stolen goods and this collective win will have you reminiscing for years.


Very much in the same vein as Wingspan, this is an indirectly competitive strategy game all about building a town where humans and dragons live and work together. But the cute-as-heck art and novel dragon and shop names take the emphasis away from winning and instead make for a joyful jaunt through a fantasy village with friends.


Both cooperative and competitive. Break into two teams and work with your teammates to uncover all of your agents before the other team finds theirs. Do so by having one team member give word clues that hint at cards, but be careful about how you interpret those clues because if you accidentally flip the assassin, it’s an automatic loss. This quick game offers just enough cooperation and friendly competition in a tight package to keep you replaying for hours.


This title rings different these days, but the game and all its variants still hold up. Cooperatively work with your friends to prevent the spread of disease and rid the globe of viruses while taking on the roles of health and emergency workers. Winning can be tough as epidemics spiral out of control if you don’t use your strengths to work together. But that victory is so sweet if you can. Don’t like the pandemic theming? There are a ton of spin-offs including Rising Tide, Reign of Cthulu, and Fall of Rome.


These are a card-based escape room in a box. You get a deck of cards with each one leading to one (or more) other cards. But keep your eyes open, because clues are hidden everywhere. Some even include codes to solve and machines to get through providing a bunch of variety. If you and your friends love escape rooms, you’ll love this. Caveat: it does pair with an app to play (for time tracking and hints) but the wider point is being present with your friends, so we’re giving this one a bye.

Conclusion: Take Time to Play This Month

While the Global Day of Unplugging technically goes from sunset today, March 1st, until sunset tomorrow, March 2nd, the spirit of unplugging lasts all month.

According to health experts, you should really make it a habit whether it’s March or any time of year.

So grab those games or make plans to come to one of our Rook Room events and start combatting that loneliness while having fun with new friends and old!