Zoom drifted into the public consciousness seemingly out of nowhere. Having single-handedly propped up our social lives for a year, the video conferencing tool is now an everyday part of life, hosting everything from team meetings and after work drinks to bingo games and trivia nights.
But there are more ways to have fun on Zoom than wacky backgrounds and boozing. Get your friends together on a call and there are a wealth of fun Zoom games to keep you all entertained, as well as regular party games that just happen to work well over a Zoom call.
The best games to play on Zoom are those that are easy to pick up, can accommodate a lot of players, and have short rounds so people can regularly totter off to the loo or freshen up their drink. Less enjoyable are games that tend to stifle conversation, or that run on too long. We’re looking at you, Zoom pub quizzes, with your lengthy silences and off-mic conferring.
Whether you’re organising a long-distance birthday party and need a fun game to keep the evening structured — everybody loves a schedule — or you want to spice up your Saturday evening with a few drinking games to play on Zoom, we’ve pulled together a list of the best virtual party activities. From murder mystery games to karaoke, there’s bound to be something in this list that you and your friends will love, or deeply regret.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Heads Up! is a party game that works well both in-person and virtually. First, download the app, then pick a category – choose anything from celebrities and movies to accents and characters, or you can even create a deck of your own. When it’s your turn, hold your phone to your head and your fellow players will describe (or act out) the words on the screen before the timer runs out. Expect shouting and a whole lot of laughter.
Virtual murder mystery
How about hosting your own murder mystery night? While of course you can create your own story for free, we love the look of this Masters of Mystery 1920s murder mystery game kit (from £14.99, mastersofmystery.com). Select how many of you there are playing, from four up to 30, then simply download the game materials. Included is a host guide, detective audio files, evidence packs, character booklets and costume suggestions. Give your friends their character in advance and encourage them to get dressed up. Surely there’s no better way to spend a Friday night?
If you’re looking for a drinking game, it’s time to download the Picolo app. Add each of your friend’s names into the app and once you’re all set up, it will prompt you to do specific challenges – from drinking if you’re in a certain demographic to posting something on your social media. It’s bound to cheer up a Saturday night in lockdown.
If you and your friendship group are the type who love to hit up a karaoke bar on a night out, this one is for you. Simply download the Karafun app, choose one of the songs (there’s everything from “Shallow” from A Star is Born to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”) and share your screen with your fellow singers. Either take it in turns to sing or belt the bangers out all at once. Subscriptions start from £4.99 and we’d suggest splitting the cost across the group for many weekends of fun. As an added extra, why not buy a wireless microphone (£17.99, Amazon.co.uk) to really up the ante.
Similar to the TV panel show Would I Lie To You?, in Psych each player makes up fake answers to trivia questions and you have to decide what the real solution is. If you think you really know your friends, why not try the new “and the truth comes out” category, which will put your knowledge to the test.
Just Dance Now
If you’re looking for a mood booster, try turning your living space into an at-home club. Download Just Dance Now to your laptop, desktop or phone, and share your screen via Zoom.
With a range of music on offer, your device will act as the controller and you can follow virtual dances on screen, or take it in turns to be the controller and try to beat each other’s high scores. All you need to do is make sure you’ve got your favourite tipple on hand, whether that’s a flavoured gin or alcohol-free spirit.
Hogwarts digital escape room
Featuring in our guide to virtual escape rooms is this Harry Potter-themed version created by an American librarian in Pennsylvania. Fans of the wizarding world will love it, with team-building exercises, trivia questions and puzzles to solve. Someone will just have to share their screen with the group.
GeoGuessr if one for the geography fans. The aim is simple – guess the exact spot or region of a place by looking at nothing more than an abstract picture. Test your ability by opting for famous landmarks or more obscure places around the world. Divide your large group into teams and take it in turns to generate the picture and share your screen – the team with the most points wins.
Inspired by The Queen’s Gambit? Why don’t you and a fellow aspiring chess champ compete online? Create an account on Chess.com and challenge one another to a match over Zoom. Turn on your cameras while you play and watch your opponent’s face when you catch them out.
For the latest offers on broadband, try the links below:
Searching for more ways to stay entertained? Read our guide to the best online games and multiplayer apps to play with your friends
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in