24 virtual office games to bring back that Friday feeling
There’s only so long you can keep a group of people on Microsoft Teams entertained and engaged, before the small talk gets boring – and, dare we say it, downright awkward. But luckily, there are a ton of virtual games you can play with colleagues that are guaranteed to bring back that Friday feeling.
So we’ve decided to put together our list of favorite games you can play, from new ideas that require just a bit of imagination, to fully digitalized versions of classic board games that you already know and love.
1. The virtual scavenger hunt
It’s a classic, so we had to mention it. A scavenger hunt is a really good way to break the ice during a group call, and it actually gets people moving at the same time.
The premise is simple – one person prepares a list of items that might reasonably be found in (or close to) a person’s house and then calls each out in turn. Everybody else on the call must scramble to find each item, and be the first to return to their seat with it, to score the point.
Don’t be afraid to get a bit creative and send people a little further than just their kitchen or their living room. Could you ask for something that might only exist in their garden shed, such as a snow shovel?
2. Truth or dare knockout
We’re willing to bet that you’ve never played this game before, but it’s really fun and all you need is a video conferencing platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
In a game of truth or dare knockout, everybody puts their cameras on, and one person takes the role of “Dare Master”. This person then begins to challenge the rest of the group, either with dares which they must perform, or questions which they must (truthfully!) answer.
Anybody who refuses, or fails, to complete a challenge, must switch their webcam off. This game continues until only one person remains – or until it’s time for bed, depending on how stubbornly brave your players are feeling.
Codenames is a classic game of communication, played between two rival teams. And while it was originally developed as a tabletop game, there are now plenty of places you can play for free online.
In a game of Codenames, each team will have a “spymaster” who will attempt to communicate secret words to their own team – while preventing the enemy team from cracking the code.
You can learn the rules pretty quickly on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codenames_(board_game)#Rules
Or, if you’re ready to play? Get your friends or colleagues on a Zoom call, then set up a free game of Codenames here.
4. Virtual escape room
Escape rooms soared in popularity over the last few years, as an excellent way to help teams, and groups of friends, to bond – while working together to solve a complex puzzle; or to beat another team. But when the pandemic hit, escape rooms couldn’t continue to operate – at least not in the traditional sense.
But recently, a number of successful online escape rooms have popped up – which allow you and your friends or colleagues to get your puzzle-solving caps on, and have a couple of hours of fun.
Most of these experiences cost money, but reviews tend to be pretty good. For example, Escape Live offers everything from Casino Heists to Prison Breaks!
5. The big bad imitation game
Caution: This game can get pretty chaotic. So if you’re not a fan of noise, confusion, and bouts of uncontrollable laughter, then move on to something else.
In the big bad imitation game, all you need is a video conferencing platform like Zoom. Then, each player is assigned a different player’s name – at which point, they must then try their best to imitate that person, for as long as it takes for somebody else to guess who they’re trying to be. Of course, everybody is doing this all at once, which can make things very confusing – but also pretty fun.
There are a number of variants of this game – for example, you could win by guessing the most correct imposters; or you could simply score a point by identifying the person pretending to be you. But of course it always helps if everybody on the call knows each other at least enough to do a pretty bad imitation of them.
6. Defy death with a spoon
This is the name some people give to their own adaptations of popular card game “Bucket Of Doom”, which is a hilarious imagination game, where you and your friends attempt to survive various ridiculous situations, using relatively useless tools.
For example, the group might draw a card which says “you’ve just disturbed a nest of killer wasps, and now they’re angry”. Each person must then select an item from one of their own personal “object” cards, and explain how they will use this item to escape the situation.
For instance, if a player uses an object card which says “spoon”, they might explain that they intend to dig themselves a hole in the ground using their spoon, and cover themselves with dirt to evade the swarm of wasps.
To play this game online, you can simply prepare some wacky situations in advance, and then use a random word generator to determine the object cards players will have at their disposal – i.e. the “tools” they will be able to use to escape their various situations. To decide a winner for each scenario, put it to a vote – usually, it’s either the funniest reply, or the most outlandish escape attempt, which ends up winning.
7. The dream team
Similar to “defy death with a spoon”, a game of “the dream team” involves imaginary scenarios, only this time you’re trying to complete some sort of goal – such as robbing a bank, rescuing a hostage, or putting on a Broadway Musical.
To complete your goal, you must make up your fantasy “dream team”, using other people from your team. For example, you might pick the safest driver as your getaway driver in a bank heist – or you might select your best sales person to be a hostage negotiator.
This game is a great way of focusing on the skills and abilities of the different people in your group, while having a bit of fun along the way. The winner is the person who comes up with the best dream team selection and rationalization for each scenario.
8. The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow
The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow is a mega game to play with a large group – partly because it caters well for up to 18 people.
In this game, each player takes on a secret role – werewolf, or villager. And as each “night” rolls by, the werewolves will secretly kill villagers – while during each “day”, players will argue and debate as to who they should lynch. It’s a great game of trust, communication, trickery and imagination.
Ordinarily a physical game that you play in person, there’s a great adaptation that you can play for free online at Board Game Arena.
9. Survival of the wittiest
Howard Gardner was well known for proposing a theory of eight intelligences. He suggested that beyond “general” intelligence – i.e. the stuff that we test for in IQ examinations – people can develop specific types of intelligence throughout their life.
(Stick with us here, we’ll get to the game in a moment!)
These types of intelligence are, in no particular order:
- Interpersonal (social)
- Intrapersonal (self)
- Kinesthetic (body movement)
- Natural (nature)
There’s no hard and fast way to play survival of the wittiest. But normally, players will pick an intelligence, and represent that intelligence as if they were stranded on a desert island. Players then discuss the scenario, along with a bunch of events that happen while on the island – either spontaneous, or pre-planned – and then have a series of voting rounds where one person gets “kicked off” the island.
Each intelligence must make its case as to why it should remain, and which skills it can provide… and if you want to make this even more realistic, why not get participants to actually take a test to see which of the eight intelligences is their strongest?
10. War of the Wizards
OK, so if you fancy getting down to some serious world-building, storytelling and role-playing fantasy action, then we can recommend a very interesting website called War of the Wizards.
This 90-minute fantasy role-playing game is designed specifically as a fun team-building exercise for employees to engage in remotely, and while it is not a free service, you’ll be pleased to hear that each game includes your very own “Master of Wizardry Things” – basically, a person who tells you what’s going on, and what you’re meant to be doing!
The gist of the game is that a group of wizards have been at war for decades, but none of them can remember why… and it’s up to you and your colleagues to find a peaceful resolution. During the session, your group will exercise their skills of communication, problem solving and teamwork, to make important decisions.
11. The awkward storyteller
The awkward storyteller is one of the most lively social games we’ve played, and it’s a real blast. But while it’s normally a physical card game that you play in real life, it’s actually really easy to adapt for a Zoom or a Teams call with friends or colleagues.
The premise of the game is that each player takes turns at being the storyteller. They take a story prompt – either from the story card pile if you’re playing the original game, or from the pool of story prompts that perhaps you’ve prepared before the game.
The storyteller then reads this prompt out loud, which may be along the lines of: I have a terrible secret. And that’s when the fun begins.
You see, turn by turn, each other player cross-examines the storyteller, asking questions about the story. Such as “what is your secret?” or “how long have you been hiding this for?” – and to make things even more interesting, they will throw random words at the storyteller along with their question, which the storyteller must use as part of their answer.
The storyteller must survive for as long as they can before failing to think of an answer, giving an answer that contradicts a previous answer, or simply running out of time.
12. Can’t stop
Can’t Stop is a really simple “push your luck” board game, in which players take turns at rolling dice, and trying to push counters as high up a “mountain” as they can.
You can end your turn any time you like, and “save” your progress – but if you get too greedy, you risk slipping down the mountain and losing all progress you’ve made this turn.
The first player to get three climbers to the top of the mountain wins – and this game is great for playing online, because it’s super easy to learn, and there are plenty of places where you can play it for free.
13. Try not to laugh
Here’s another great game that just requires a bit of imagination. The goal is simple: Try not to laugh.
It’s up to you how you do it. Take it in turns at sitting in the “hot chair”, or just have a big old free for all. Silly faces, bad jokes, it’s all guaranteed to come out.
Alternatively, you can set up a series of funny video clips, and watch them together. Last one standing wins the game!
14. Pictionary (well, “Drawasaurus”)
Remember the classic game of pictionary? You know, the one where you draw a card, and draw whatever word is on it. Everybody else has to try and interpret your terrible drawing, and guess the word to score points.
Well, there are plenty of places to play Pictionary-style games online, and it’s a ton of fun. One of our favorites has to be “Drawasaurus”.
We love Drawasaurus because it’s free, it’s super easy to set up, and it seems to have unlimited room for players – so far, we’ve experimented with creating virtual rooms for 3 players through to 80 players, and it works like a charm.
Another classic tabletop game, Perudo – also known as “Dudo” – is an old and very popular game played in South America. More specifically, Chile.
It’s a game of bluffing and pushing your luck. In a game of Perudo, players hide their dice under their cups, and then engage in a battle of nerve while they attempt to call out potential combinations of numbers – while never quite knowing the full picture of what players may be concealing.
While Perudo seems like it probably shouldn’t lend itself too well to the virtual world, it’s actually pretty easy to play online – and there’s a great digitalization of it over on Board Game Arena, which you can play for free.
16. Rock paper scissors showdown
We all know the classic game of rock paper scissors. So why not host a full-blown tournament?
If you think that rock paper scissors is a simple game of luck, then you might want to try watching a few of the games take place during your Zoom tournament – you’ll soon realize that some players are naturally better at it than others. After all, many believe that rock paper scissors has its very own unique psychology, and there are many theories about how to use this to your advantage and win more games.
The tournament format is up to you. Round robin? Instant knockout? League table?
17. Would you rather
One of the great things about digital conferencing and collaboration tools like Zoom, is they often have in-built polling features. This lets you quickly grab a lot of data in a short space of time. But as well as being useful for grabbing employee feedback on important matters, it’s also a great way to have fun with a group of friends or colleagues!
Using the instant polling feature, you can easily get a game of “would you rather” on the go – where you put a question out to your group, often with two extreme or undesirable answers. For example, “would you rather walk across hot coals, or bath in ice cubes?”
This game allows for lots of creativity, and you might even find out some interesting trends and statistics about your group.
18. Real life guess who
Have you ever played the classic game of Guess Who? You know the one – where you have a board with lots of faces, and through a process of elimination, you try to guess which character your opponent is thinking of?
Real-life guess who is just like that game, except that instead of using little characters on a plastic board, you use real people on a Zoom call!
Naturally, this game is better when you have more people playing it – which is why we consider it a mega virtual game for colleagues. There’s no real headcount limit!
When a person is eliminated, instead of popping their little plastic picture down, you can just ask them to switch off their webcam.
Charades is a timeless classic that you can play online just as easily as you can play in real life.
You take turns to think of a book, movie, song, or TV series. And then, using only actions, you must try to help your teammates guess what you’re acting out.
Whoever guesses correctly gets to take the next turn.
20. Murder mystery
If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple or Columbo, then no doubt you’ve often fancied trying your hand at solving the crimes yourself.
Perhaps you’ve played board games like 221b Baker Street. Or you may even have attended a murder mystery dinner evening with friends – where actors play a scene out around you, while you enjoy delicious food and try to piece together the clues.
If this sounds like something that’s right up your street, then Whodunnit is a wonderful virtual murder mystery game for 7-21 players, which brings the thrill of detective work right to your living room. Just hook up with your friends or colleagues via Zoom, download the Whodunnit app for Android or IOS, and off you go.
We’ve mentioned this one before, but it definitely needs a special mention in this article.
Spaceteam is probably the loudest, most panicked and hilarious game you can possibly play with friends on Zoom or Teams. All you need is the free Spaceteam app for Android or IOS, and a way to communicate.
In a game of Spaceteam, you and your colleagues work together to… well, it’s not exactly clear at first. We think that you’re meant to be flying a spaceship? But the trouble is, is your vehicle seems to be falling apart.
But here’s the catch: You’ll find yourself receiving commands to fix things, which may or may not be in your control – and which may or may not make sense. Which means you’ll find yourself amid a noisy flurry of phrases like “increase chemical quartz to 3”, and “fluff the pillow”, in your desperate bid to complete your journey alive.
The key is to communicate as calmly and effectively as you can… but from the moment you play your first game, you’ll see why that’s not exactly easy!
People tend to have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the classic board game “Monopoly”. But it’s a classic for a reason… and now, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy this game virtually with friends or colleagues.
For example, Marmalade Game Studio offers Monopoly as a download for IOS or Android.
23. Mystery singer
The Masked Singer is a popular TV show that first aired in 2019. The premise is that a singer performs to the audience, while wearing a costume to conceal their identity. Panelists must then attempt to work out who the masked singer is.
You can easily play your own version of this game via Zoom or Teams, by simply asking everybody to select an anonymous alias, and then join the call without their webcams on. The selected mystery singer will perform for the rest of the group, who will then vote on who they think it is… Each mystery singer can then reveal themselves.
This game takes quite some confidence, but if you can build up the courage then it’s totally worth it.
24. Spot the difference
The final virtual game we’d like to recommend for playing with colleagues or friends on Zoom or Teams, is a simple game of spot the difference. Except, it’s not that simple…
You see, everybody switches their webcams on, and one person has a minute to study as many details as they possibly can. Then, everybody switches off their camera, and changes a single detail in their scenery – for example, adding or removing an ornament from a windowsill.
Score a point for each difference you spot, and see who has the best eye for detail!
Looking for some in-office game inspiration? Read 31 games to play at work.