The virtual games I’ve been playing with my friends

What’s the point of having friends besides having people to play games with? I can’t wait until we’re seventy years old and playing aggressive games of Uno and Mafia. Until then and until I can see humans in person again, these are the games I’ve been playing with people while zooming.


Description: Minesweeper but with words, teams, and clues

I appreciate this game so much that before I learned there was an online version, I tried to DIY a virtual version by setting up my physical Codenames board game, taking photos, and texting them to a group chat. (Sometimes this would really not work though, like when I accidentally included the spymaster card in the photo.) But some coder or group of coders really came through by making this website version of it.

There’s two teams: Blue and Red. Each team has a spymaster.

If you’re the spymaster on your team, you click the button at the bottom right, and switch to the secret board. The red-font cards are the Red team’s, and the blue-font cards are the Blue team’s. The dark gray card is the death card: if a team clicks that one, they lose immediately. Everything else is neutral. Clicking one of those ends the team’s turn.

The spymasters take turns going. The team with nine cards (which you can see at the top left) goes first. Each turn, the spymaster gives a one-word clue and how many cards are related to that clue. For example, if I was the Blue team’s spymaster, I could say “MATERIALS 2” to try and get my team to guess “IVORY” and “GLASS”, or for Red team, I could do “TEA 3” for “HONEY,” “WATER,” and “LEMON.” The team that clicks all their cards first wins.

Clues that connect two cards are the norm, but it’s more exciting to do three or four. (I’ve never played a game where somebody did more.) My friends and I have played quite a few rounds of Codenames now, and here are some of the hacks we play with.

1. Combine Words
The best example I could think of for this board is “GLITCHY 3” for Blue team–“GLASS,” “PITCH,” and “KEY.”
2. Research Clues
For Blue team, you could do “DEION 4.” For these, you usually need to spell out the word. So hopefully what would happen is that they would search Deion, see Deion Sanders, read that he was both a professional football and baseball player, and choose “FOOT,” “BALL,” “PITCH,” and “DIAMOND.”
3. Use Letters As Common Factor
This might be against the official rules, but sometimes there will be three words that start with “P”, and the clue will be “P 3.”
4. Use Position As Common Factor
On this board, for Blue team (dang, I think Blue’s words are easier for this board than Red’s), you could say “TOP 3” and try to get “MUG,” “PLANE,” and “PITCH.” There’s the risk of hitting the neutral cards, but sometimes it’s worth it.

I like to play where the spymaster gives no information to their team besides the actual clues—like specifying if it’s Research Clue, or saying that their teammates got all the ones they were going for, or giving facial expressions–but it’s completely up to you and your friends to tweak how you want to play it.


Does this one count as a game??

Description: Sudoku except with letters and riddles

Recently I subscribed to The Atlantic because I keep seeing their writing pop up everywhere and because their print magazine looks so cool, but it turns out the thing I’ve been accessing most is their crossword.

Being a crossword-solver is something I’ve always aspired to be. Skateboarders are cool, funny people are cool, but crossword-solvers are SO COOL. At the beginning of quarantine, I tried doing some puzzles from this book that I bought years ago, but there was a reason it was almost completely blank. Without Google and the answers in the back, the puzzles were impossible.

My hopes of attaining crosswording abilities refused to leave that easily though. When I saw that the Atlantic subscription came with the crosswords section (the Nytimes requires a separate subscription), I couldn’t not try it out.

One thing I didn’t know about crosswords is that it actually matters what day a crossword comes out on. The Monday one is the simplest and they get progressively harder through the week. The Atlantic has them Monday-Friday and Sunday, and I couldn’t even get through the Tuesday one, let alone the rest of the week. After a few minutes, I would just give up and click “reveal board.”

While struggling to do one last Friday, I sent screenshots to friends to see if they could help even though I didn’t expect them to be interested at all. Before school let out, I had asked my physics teacher if he had any tips on doing crosswords, and one of the tips he gave was that it’s more fun to do them with other people. My reaction to that was one of extreme skepticism because I thought to myself that a negative number of my friends would voluntarily want to do crosswords.

Some of my friends (like JONATHAN) have repeatedly teased me for reading, so I assumed that they would destroy crosswords for being even more nerdy than books, but apparently, crosswords are fun while books are boring. In retrospect, I should’ve expected this because they do like puzzles, and one of my friends is insanely good at Word Hunt.

I shared my crossword screen with them while zooming, and we were able to finish the one in above in twenty-four minutes which is crazy. I think I would’ve gotten less than ten clues if I did it by myself. It was so fun, and I’m hoping solving the Sunday crossword together becomes a tradition for at least the rest of the summer. Which brings me to the moral of this story: physics teachers are always right.

Description: Pictionary, but everyone for themself

This one seems to be the Tom Hanks of online games. I haven’t heard anybody say they don’t like this game yet.

You can “Create Private Room” and then share the link with your friends, or you can click “Play!” and join a public room. You can also change the words to another language, like how one time my friends decided it would be a good idea to play in Spanish.

I didn’t want to use screenshots from a public game, so I made a visual aid.

In the middle, there’s a blank square for the drawer to draw in. The website determines the order of who draws. When it’s your turn, three words pop up on the screen, and you click which one you want to draw. (I think it’s more fun when everybody picks the hardest option.) At the bottom you can change colors, widths, erase, or start over.

There’s a chat box on the left is for everybody else to type their guesses in. (Spelling counts.) There’s dashes at the top of the drawing box to tell you how many letters are in the word, like hangman. You get points for guessing the word and for guessing it faster than other people. The drawer gets more points if more people guess it. Whoever finishes with the most points wins.

Have you played any of these games before?
How do you like to call best–facetime, Zoom, Instagram Calls?

Do you have any recommendations of other games or things to do? Two others that I’ve been playing are Contact and Drawing Blind. I linked to videos of people playing it that will hopefully explain them—while also making you laugh.

25 thoughts on “The virtual games I’ve been playing with my friends”

  1. “I can’t wait until we’re seventy years old and playing aggressive games of Uno ” – the best thing i’ve heard all day

    codename sounds SO SO interesting, i think I’m really gonna try it out, i am left with no choice after this post 😞

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post!
    You always post such interesting, fresh, unique things.
    I did not know there was a virtual version of Codenames (good to know), I’ve never thought about playing crossword puzzles with friends (that’s a great idea), and is so much fun haha. Also great doodle. Looks just like the game!
    I really really like this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WOW, thank you :))
      Yesss, it’s been coming in clutch right now. I’m curious if it’s new or not and how large the spike of use has been if the website’s been up for a while. Ohh, I hope you guys have fun if you end up doing it!! Ahh THANKS.
      Oh my goodness, thank you again, Evelyn. This comment is so kind.


  3. Ahh, I got so excited right off the bat with this post because I’ve been playing so much online Codenames! My family and I play it almost every night (my sister left our physical game at college) and my cousins and sister and I zoom to play it frequently, too. We use a different website though- we play on, but interesting to know there are multiple ways to play it online, haha. Wow, your hacks were very enlightening. We pretty much only play with the “research” method. The closest we’ve been to one of the other methods was my mom saying “verb” once, haha. The position as a common factor one is super interesting! I might have to try that one with my family next time we play…and we also pretty much play with zero facial expressions or hints. Actually, we get pretty heated if someone starts “cheating” in that aspect, haha! (Or should I say…hahah.)
    Wait, that’s so fun that your friends were into doing the crossword! I’m not very good at crosswords, but maybe I should try to improve. I sent my grandma a letter about a month ago, and my notecards have actual crosswords on them, so for the last couple weeks she’s been texting me the ones she couldn’t figure out, except I can’t get them either, haha.
    The pictionary-esque game looks so fun! And you know what, you’re right, everyone does seem to like Tom Hanks.
    Between Facetime, Zoom, and Instagram calls: I like Facetime best for individuals, and Zoom best for groups or if I’m Netflix party-ing and Zooming with someone at the same time (that’s how my friend and I have kept watching our shows together during quarantine). I don’t ever use Instagram calls except sometimes with my friend who has a Samsung, but it’s kind of glitchy, so we usually just use Houseparty instead. What about you?
    This isn’t really a game, but my Pinterest has been helping keep me sane right now. I like the aesthetic parts, but to honest, I’m really there for the quotes and more importantly, the Harry Potter/Stranger Things/other shows I like memes…I can get lost in rabbitholes forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NO WAY. Ahhh, I love that! To explain why we use HorsePaste to play Codenames instead of a website actually Codenames: it’s because my friend and I watch this Youtuber who used it while playing with his friends. Basically he’s where all these games are coming from, except Crosswords. Hahah, thank you!! I am glad to help :)) Whaaat, we sometimes play the “research” method, but mostly we take the easy way out instead of Googling stuff. Whoa, “verb” is a clue I’ve never seen used before. Do you remember what the words were? HAHAHA, your parenthetical aside made me laugh SO HARD. Yesss, you should try out the position one and blow everyone’s minds.

      Ahahaha, I think it’s so extremely nerdy and funny that we do crosswords. Whooaa, I love your notecards!! Hahaha, that’s so funny. What are some you’ve been stuck on?? I can try and get some of my teammates to figure some out.

      I know, Tom Hanks and Mr. Rogers.

      Yes, I agree with that. Wait, can you explain how Netflix party-ing and Zooming works? Do you have to use two devices at the same time and then plug in earbuds to the movie so the person doesn’t hear repeats? Or am I complicating it way too much? My friend found this other extension that allows you to watch stuff on different platforms at the same time including Disney Plus, so hopefully we’ll watch Hamilton together. Yes, Instagram doesn’t have the greatest quality video, so now I do like using Zoom more, especially now that I accidentally set up a reccuring meeting I can use.

      WAIT, how have we never talked about Pinterest before??? What, I do not understand. I have this humongous board of Marvel memes–I haven’t added it in maybe a year, but after watching each movie, I would go on and add some. What Pinterest rabbit holes have you gone down lately??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, oh, that makes sense! I’m not sure who in my family discovered Codenames online, I think it was maybe one of my adult cousins who played it with friends, haha. Ahh, my family also has the rule that we can’t google anything…so basically, I’ve learned we play this game the hardest way possible instead of taking any shortcuts. I think the verb words were like paste, cycle, and something else, but it was still kind of hard because a lot of the words can be a verb as well as a noun. Hahah! (See what I did there.)

        Okay, so for Netflix party-ing with Zooming, you zoom with the person, and then you minimize the zoom tab so it’s just their little square in the corner of your screen. Then you do the Netflix party and you can have the zoom of them in the corner. As long as you’re wearing earbuds and your Netflix isn’t buffering, you can’t hear any echoing and then you can just talk as the show is going and it’s basically like you’re with them in real life. Ahh, that’s awesome!! I watched Hamilton already and it was really, really good.

        We haven’t, have we!! Ahh, I really want to make a Marvel board but I’m waiting until I watch more movies because once you search for one thing, spoilers are liable to pop up. Hmm, lately I’ll find on Harry Potter tumblr post and then when you scroll under a picture to “see more like this” I’ll find like twenty others and just keep on going…the amount of headcanons I have keep me wondering what is actually from Harry Potter and what I saw on Pinterest.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha ( :)) ), playing the hardest way possible is fun! Sometimes when there’s only one word left, I’ll do a kind of hard clue anyways just because it makes it more interesting. Sometimes my friends would rather me not but…. I know, words can be interpreted so many ways. Like is case a container or a law case? ALSO YES.

          (Umm, also this might not be possible, but it would be so fun if we figured out a way to play codenames sometime?? I don’t know if we could somehow put out a PSA on a blog post and we could maybe use Google chat or insta gc and just text each other clues??)

          Ohh wow! That sounds so nice. At first I was very skeptical of the idea of Netflix party because whenever someone’s screenshared a Youtube video or any video on Zoom, it’s always been kind of choppy. AHH, I still need to watch Hamilton. Maybe this wekk??

          Hahahaha, that’s crazy that people who love Harry Potter are truly adding to the world for us.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Haha, I love that. Yes, one of the biggest challenges in playing the hard way is trying to figure out what meaning of the word the spymaster was meaning, it definitely makes things more interesting.

            Whoa, that would be cool! I don’t know if I want my less-than-great Codename playing skills to be broadcasted to anyone besides my family (who will love me even if I detriment the game with my terrible clues)…but that’s a great idea. :))

            Yeah, screensharing on Zoom isn’t the best. Netflix Party won’t let you screenshare (I think), so I just pull it up separately from the Zoom and haven’t had any problems so far with it being choppy! Ohh, if you watch Hamilton, let me know what you think of it.

            Very accurate. XD

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Yes! It’s interesting to see how everybody’s brain works.

              Ahaha, I completely understand! Okay, I’ll just file the idea in my brain somewhere.

              Ohh okay, got it. Yes, I will definitely do that! Okay, this weekend I’m planning on watching Three Idiots with friends who haven’t seen it yet, and we’re going to try this screen-sharing thing called Scener. It’s a Chrome extension, and you can share while also video calling. Hopefully it works?

              Liked by 1 person

                1. Okay it was pretty good except for there was feedback with the mics, so we just all muted ourselves. Which I know kind of defeats the purpose of watching it together. Ohhh, I just realized we could’ve just all used earbuds on our computers and then facetimes on phones.

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. Okay yes, I know what you’re talking about, but we did try wearing headphones–I’m not exactly sure what was going on. Hopefully Zoom and different platforms get exponentially better soon after all the attention they’re getting soon! Has your school alerted you on how they’re planning on doing things?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. I hope so too! So far, we’ve been doing all our classes via Zoom, and it’s actually been doing pretty well. Although funny story: in our third period class on Friday (only the 2nd day), our teacher suddenly got kicked out of the Zoom and soon we realized that the entire district lost Wi-Fi and every teacher got kicked off.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. Ahh I heard about this! (At least I think it was from your district? Oops, did not meant to make it sound like the Hunger Games.) I asked them if it was the system being overloaded or something, but they responded probably not because it had been fine the first day.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. HAHA, what’s funny is when I first started reading this reply and didn’t have the context from the other comment, I was like…what, district?? for a second and genuinely thought about The Hunger Games. It probably was from my district (the school kind ;)) because I’m guessing a lot of your friends in public school probably go there? Ahh, yes, I don’t know exactly why it happened, but it happened again yesterday so they just made all the teachers go home and do the zooms from there.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. Ahaha! Hm, now I’m trying to think of other words that books have claimed. OH, this isn’t a book, but I’ve gotten the same ad on Youtube a few times for Corona Seltzer, and every time, I’m like come on you guys need to change the name or something. I think half of them go to yours, and then a fourth goes to the one with the really big football stadium, and then a fourth goes to uhh, you could say it has a really boring name? Hahah, I’m not sure how those clues are going to land. Ohh, I did not hear about that. Is it permanent switch?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    6. HAHA, no for real, anything named Corona just needs to change their name because no one will want to buy their product anymore. Oh my gosh, Annie, I’m actually laughing so hard at “you could say it has a really boring name” because when I got it, it made so much sense- that was very cleverly put. XD

                      Liked by 1 person

                    7. OH my goodness, Olivia, I just spent at least a full minute trying to figure out what I meant by my joke. I forgot what my own pun was. Wow, I’m so glad you got that. Ahah, thank you thank you.

                      Liked by 1 person

  4. Buzzfeed does quiz parties right now so that’s what me & my friends have been hitting up 😂 It’s stupid obviously but chatting with your friends makes it so much fun!

    Liked by 1 person

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