EXPOSED: Virtual Game Nights

Hello, and welcome to one more blog post of the EXPOSED series: Virtual games night with Mythic Games. Game nights are social interactions, catching up with friends, maybe some ribbing, eating snacks, enjoying a drink, holding cards or moving pieces, maybe rolling dice, and enjoying how a game unfolds, its twists and turns. It’s about a shared experience and coming together.  Yet, at the moment, we have to stay apart, which changes how we interact and how we behave at game nights. It also changes how games nights feel. There are things we can do to try and make things feel as normal as possible. 

Virtual Game Nights

When people are in different locations, or in our case, in lockdown or self-isolating, you need to use technology to make things happen. Here’s what you will need for a successful virtual game night:

Gadgets and Gizmos 

Hopefully, you have a computer of some sort and an internet connection. If not, then a mobile phone or tablet will also work, but the more massive a screen you have access to, the better. Many TVs can be used as a monitor, either by connecting a cable or casting to it. You will probably have to learn new things, but help shouldn’t be too far away with modern online search engines. You might also have to set up new accounts for chat and online game sites, but that isn’t too hard. It should be possible to find the right solutions for you. With that out of the way, let me move onto the social side of things. 

Food Inspiration

It’s important to keep doing the same things that you would typically do during your game night. Just because you’re apart, sitting in front of your computer, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy snacks and drinks. It’s even easier because if you’re playing online, nobody will be worried about sticky fingers or spilled drinks – as long as you don’t spill them all over your computer. So have some crisps, dips, sweets, or whatever else you would typically have. You could treat yourself and have something fancy and unique that you would typically only have on special occasions. So go for the branded crips or some luxurious chocolate. You can even have an alcoholic drink if you want because you’re not driving anywhere – or enjoy a soft drink, hot drink, or other beverage. To create a sense of togetherness, share a photo of your setup and snacks and drinks – or if you’re using video chat, then hold everything up to the camera so that everyone can see. It makes a difference to see what others are eating and drinking. It’s strange, but little things like that help and make you feel more connected.

Voice Chat 

Speaking of video chat, we would recommend to keep it simple. A good voice chat like Discord is often much better than some grainy video of someone’s face that keeps blurring and hogging the bandwidth. Maybe use it at the beginning of the games night, or the end, to allow you all to catch up with each other, but the focus should be on the game and the chat for the rest of the time. Catching up with what everyone has been up to is also very important. You haven’t seen each other for a while. So let people talk about what’s been happening in their lives. Just be aware that voice or video chat is a bit different from talking in person. There is a delay, so let people finish what they’re saying and don’t talk over each other. Leave pauses to allow others to join in. It’s not too hard, and you should quickly get the hang of it.

The right game

When it comes to playing the game itself, you also want it to be as easy as possible. Simulations of games look amazing and feel more like you’re playing a real game but are sometimes hard to use because you need to use your mouse to pick things up, move them and drop them somewhere else while panning, moving, and zooming the camera, so you can see what’s going on. Apps and sites like Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator, where you click an option, and the rest are fantastic. They make gameplay a lot easier and quicker, allowing you to focus on the game and still chat with your friends. You can choose to play an easier and shorter game, like Super Fantasy Brawl, or a more complex game like Darkest Dungeon, or an immersive game, like HEL: The Last Saga. You can organize your time to play one or multiple games. Playing online can not only create a unique experience, as it simulates an actual game night with friends, it can also affect your purchasing decisions to curate your board game collection

Make the most of it

Above all, the virtual game night is an opportunity to meet with friends and continue to play games, whether they are across the globe or in the same town as you and isolating because of a pandemic. It is a way to connect and do what you would “normally” do. Remember, now that you’re playing online with friends, you don’t need to travel. So you can use the time you would spend to get to someone’s house to play a longer game or several shorter games. It’s incredible how much of a difference it makes not worry about getting back home afterward. You’re more likely to stay up longer just to get one more game in because you can just head off to bed later. So, playing with people who are all in different locations works and is as close as we’ll get to having a real games night at the moment – and playing remotely also offers some upsides.
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