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10 Things to Do on a Video Call

09 June 2020

Although lockdown has eased, many of us have family members or friends in the shielding group who are continuing to self-isolate, while others are quarantining after a holiday. But after three months in lockdown, the video calls may be in need of a refresher! When everyone’s been at home, “What have you been doing this week?” can be a less than fruitful question, so here are 10 alternative ideas to try out.

1. Charades

The classic game – for those old enough to remember “Give us a Clue” on TV in the 1980s! The idea is to act out words, phrases, book titles, films, etc for the others to guess.

Very few tools are needed – just space for each person participating to act out words. An online word generator like can give you words to act out. Or for words relevant to your group, you could each think of some words and send them to each other – just send them in personal messages so that the guessers don’t get to see them in advance!

2. Pictionary

“The game of Quick Draw” – like Charades but the idea of the game is to draw to get others to guess a word.

Use the “Whiteboard” screen-sharing option on Zoom to share a blank page that anyone on the call can draw on. If everyone has the Pictionary board game at home, they can use the cards from the game for the words to draw; alternatively, use an online word generator.

For the more serious gamers you may like to appoint a time-keeper with a stop-watch (1 minute is about right), and even to choose teams. Otherwise, just get drawing to entertain everyone. The 3-year-old in our family always has a turn, and we guess what sort of dinosaur he’s drawing!

2a. Taboo

Another variation of guess-the-word, like Charades and Pictionar, if you’re not into acting things out or drawing, describe the words verbally instead – like the game Taboo.

3. Bingo!

For the classic game: everyone needs a board, which they put numbers on, and then cross them off as the numbers are called. Shout “Bingo!” when you make a line across the board in any direction. There are websites that will generate cards and call the numbers for you.

3a. Word-Bingo

A Bingo variation that can be more fun: put words or catch-phrases in the grid instead, and then either carry on the conversation or watch a chosen programme or film together – cross off the words as they are said.

4. Boggle

Another classic word-game – get your pencil and paper and a timer ready! You can either use a boggle game if you have one, and make sure it can stay on camera for the time for the game to be played, or use an online Boggle board generator that you share with screen-sharing in the video-call. Time 90 seconds (or your agreed time) while everyone writes down as many words as they can make with the letters running next to each other – then compare. You may make up your own scoring system, or use the official rules!

5. Quiz Night

For yourself or any budding quizmasters in your group, ask them to create a quiz for the occasion. Designate rounds with subjects such as films, TV, sport, music, general knowledge, or something more personal to you! A picture round is always good to break up the chat-monotony, and guess-the-film-from-the-emojis is a favourite at the moment.

If the enthusiasm isn’t there for dreaming up your own questions, either take them from online sites or watch an online quiz together: many are listed on our quiz page.

6. Scattergories

One to really get the quarantine mind working! Each player in turn is designated a letter and a category or multiple categories. They then have to think of something for each category starting with that letter, e.g. “Name 5 birds starting with B” or “Name a bird, a hat, a piece of clothing, a desert, and a country beginning with F”.

For a bit of help with the multiple categories, use an online game generator complete with timer.

7. Guess Who?

This is a game where you stick the name of a famous person or character on someone’s forehead, and they have to ask questions to work out who they are. Instead of using sticky paper, message round to everyone except the designated person who they are. See how long it takes for them to work it out!

8. Guess the Lettering

This takes a bit of preparation, but can be lots of fun and remind everyone of the things that you usually share together. The idea: Cut out letters from packaging of well-known items, such as cereal boxes, biscuit packets and other food containers. For an extra challenge, stick them together to make up another word. Then the others in the group have to guess what each letter comes from.

9. Kim’s Game

The classic memory game! Very simple, but effective for all ages. Collect together a tray of items and let people look at it on camera for 1 minute. Then, while you’re off-camera, remove one. Show them the tray again and everyone has to guess what’s missing.

10. Guess the Animal

One person thinks of an animal – then the others can ask up to 20 questions to try and guess what the animal is. The questions can only be answered with Yes or No. Vary it with things other than animals – e.g. guess the food or guess the place.

You can do these activities mostly without extra equipment and apps. Many more regular board games can be played over video-chat. If there’s a favourite amongst your friends and family, give it a try!

Bonus Idea: Online Games

For an online platform with built-in games including several of the ideas above, try the HouseParty app. Houseparty is “Facetime plus games”, so everyone will need to be in the call on HouseParty. Then then there are 4 free games built in.

JackBox Games are another paid-for resource of online games. One person needs to buy the package and then others can join in on their own devices.

Finally, you can take a look at our activities to find lots of links to games you can play online, including scrabble, poker, and chess.

Would you recommend other online games you have played with your friends and family? Please tell us on Facebook or Twitter.

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