If you’re lucky enough to be safe at home during this time, you’ve probably felt lonely and isolated at some point. Being cooped up at home and away from your loved ones and friends can be difficult, especially during this time when we need more social and emotional support than ever.
It’ll be a while before we can hang out with friends the way we used to, but that doesn’t mean we have to drift apart. Fortunately, the Internet presents a wealth of ways you can bond and have fun together without having to leave your home.
Here are six ways to stay connected and spend quality time with your friends during quarantine:
1. Host a virtual game night on Jackbox
This needs to be the staple of virtual game nights! Jackbox Games offers a wide variety of hilarious and entertaining games that are sure to be a hit with all of your friends, including Trivia Murder Party, where giving the wrong answer forces your in-game avatar to fight for its life; Fibbage, a bluff-til-you win trivia game; and Drawful, which is basically Pictionary with silly prompts that you have to draw on your device.
To play with your friends virtually, the game can be purchased on Steam and hosted by one user, who will then share their screen on the conference app of their choice. Each game has a unique room code that participants can access through a browser with their tablet or mobile phone.
2. Download and play Bunch on your phones
If you’re unable to download Jackbox Games, Bunch is another app that lets you play games with your friends on your mobile device. It comes with a built-in video chatting platform and contains a number of built-in free and paid games. These include Pool, a simple billiard game; Mars Dash, a Mario Kart-style racing game; and, Psych, a Fibbage-like game by Ellen DeGeneres that lets you answer trivia questions by selecting from the correct answer, as well as a bunch of incorrect answers provided by your fellow players.
3. Play Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) online
Playing D&D is a great way to bond with your friends, flex your storytelling muscles, and immerse yourself in imaginary worlds all at the same time.
D&D is a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game that made its way back into the mainstream after it was featured on the popular Netflix series, Stranger Things. Games are led by a dungeon master (“DM”) and can typically accommodate up to six players, who play as characters with varying races (humans, elves, dwarves, etc.), classes (fighter, bard, rogue, wizard, barbarian, etc.), and even moral alignments. The DM determines the game’s story, and players, roleplaying as their characters, are given the freedom to shape the outcome based on their decisions.
There are two options for doing this online. There’s Roll20, a virtual tabletop platform that includes a character builder, map tools, and video and voice chat for remote interactive gaming. There’s also Rolegate, which relies a lot on your imagination and allows you to run and participate in campaigns in instant messaging format. This gives participants more time to consider their actions and is a good creative writing exercise.
4. Throw an online party
Who says you can’t throw a party while you and your friends are apart? There are many ways to celebrate special occasions while on quarantine! I’ve witnessed birthday celebrators get invited to fake work meetings on Zoom, which turned out to be fun virtual birthday parties planned out by their friends and loved ones. Some couples have even chosen to move forward with their cancelled weddings by holding a ceremony inviting all of their friends.
5. Watch movies together
Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to watch Netflix remotely with friends. The app allows you to generate a link for your friends to access, which will ensure that you and your friends are watching the same thing at the same time. The browser extension also comes with a chat room on the sidebar, so you can react to what’s happening on-screen in real-time.
If Netflix isn’t your thing, there’s also the option to select shows from other streaming services or play locally from your own device, and count down together with your friends before pressing the play button.
6. Just hang out
This tip comes straight out of the long-distance relationship handbook: just make time to hang out with your friends virtually to catch up or kill time. Invite everyone to a group video or voice call on House Party, Zoom, Google Meet, or Discord, and be together while you go about your day.
If you regularly go out with friends, schedule a time when you can all cook, eat, or drink together while on your phones. The great thing about virtually drinking together is that there isn’t a need for a designated driver, because you all get to do it in the safety and comfort of your own home.
Being away from our friends doesn’t mean we have to go through quarantine alone! Of course, as with our pre-COVID lives, time spent socializing has to be balanced with time spent just relaxing and enjoying things by ourselves. Either way, now is the time to do more of the things that make us happy.