Yesterday I joined Raemon's videoconference-meetup-about-videoconference-meetups, but then I had to leave due to a scheduling conflict.

The thing I wanted to get out of that meetup was ideas for online things I can do with my friends.

I thought I'd post a list of things I've done online with my friends, in the hope that others would respond with things they've done online, and we could have an information exchange.

Here are some kinds of meetups you can have online:

* Jackbox: you can download Jackbox on Steam, and share your screen to a videoconference, and up to eight people can play. Mostly we played Fibbage. Getting the audio to work was surprisingly tricky, because you have to share the Jackbox audio, but if you share the videoconference audio then you get bad audio feedback. The solution I reached was to have a dedicated computer for this, and to manually turn off the specific thread of audio that was coming from Chrome.

We did this and it was fun, and then I tried to schedule it again and people didn't seem interested, so possibly it didn't work as well as I thought.

* Letter Jam: there are lots of board games you can play with friends online, but this one is cooperative in a way that works pretty well over videoconference. In this game, you can't see your own letter but you can see everyone else's letter; you can spell words using other people's letters, which hopefully will let them figure out what their letters are. We use and a videoconference for audio. Two games in one sitting seems right; three games can cause burnout.

I'm hoping to do this as a weekly activity.

* Puzzle Night: on the second Tuesday of the month, publishes new puzzles, and we get a little team together to solve them over videoconference. Generally we use a separate Google Draw for each puzzle, though some puzzles will need a spreadsheet instead.

July's puzzles won't work for this, because they published two puzzles which both have to be printed out on paper to solve. Past months' puzzles will work. I used to have weekly puzzle parties where we'd choose a date from the archives and solve that month's puzzles and compare our times to the solve times in the spreadsheet.

* RPGs: best practice is to use a shared Google Drive to store documents. A spreadsheet can hold everyone's character sheets; every battle map is a separate Google Draw. If I know the group is going to visit a specific location, I draw the battle map beforehand; then I tell them to find an image and paste it onto the map to represent their character. If anyone has an animal companion or a spell effect, I tell them to put images on the map representing those.

(Some groups like to use roll20 for battle maps, but I don't like the permissions model. Why do I have to individually create each player's mini and then give them permission to move it? We're all friends here and we should use the honor system.)

I also put everyone in a discord room so we can use a dice roller. I tried using the discord voice chat but it's unreliable, so that means we need a third app, generally Messenger or Hangouts for chat.

-- And, I'm reasonably happy with my technology, but the fact remains that I'm significantly worse at running D&D online than in-person (as measured by amount of post-game thanks and compliments). I guess it's a skill that has to be honed separately.

* Forum-Assisted Discussion: this is a large-group activity which I ran once and seemed to work. (See here.) It's a fun way to have a conversation, but I'm not sure how easy it is to come up with new good questions that everyone can write answers about.

* I want to try running The Quiet Year online in a Google Draw. We'll see if it works.

What sorts of meetups do you do?


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2 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 4:57 PM

Thanks for writing this up! Sorry you couldn't stick around.

A particular game I like playing over videocall is Breakfast Combo. I'd describe it as "20 questions, except half the questions involve solving philosophy of language on the fly."

There's a Breakfast Server, who thinks of an oddly specific Thing, and then says "Breakfast is served" when they've chosen the Thing. I'mma just quote this site that explains the rules:

How to play: Just like twenty questions, this game starts with one player (we’ll call him Josh) thinking of an item to guess. Unlike twenty questions, it’s best if this item is pretty specific. So some good examples might be things like this:

  • Your iPhone
  • A garbage sack
  • The shirt I’m wearing
  • A Garmin GPS

Some not-so-good examples:

  • Clouds
  • Rocks
  • A house

Does that make sense?

So, let’s say Josh is playing and he’s thinking of an item, and he comes up with his iPhone. Then the person he’s playing with, Paige, gets to start guessing, with the goal, of course, of guessing that the item is Josh’s iPhone.

In twenty questions, Paige would ask yes or no questions and try to deduce what the item would be from the provided clues. In breakfast combo, Paige just goes ahead and starts guessing things. They can start out random. It’s also good if these guesses are more specific rather than broad. So…

Paige: Is it a fireplace?

Because this is the first guess, this is what Josh says:

Josh: It’s more like a fireplace than anything you’ve guessed so far.

Then Paige gets to guess something else.

Paige: Is it a turtle?

Now Josh needs to decide if the item, his iPhone, is more similar to a turtle or a fireplace. Say he decides it’s more like a fireplace.

Josh: It’s more like a fireplace than a turtle, but, like a turtle…

And then Josh would fill in a clue, something that his iPhone and a turtle have in common. It could be anything he comes up with, like:

Josh: It’s more like a fireplace than a turtle, but, like a turtle, I’ve seen it.

So then Paige gets to guess something else.

Paige: Is it a campfire?

Josh answers the same way he did before.

Josh: It’s more like a fireplace than a campfire, but, like a campfire, it needs to be started.

Paige guesses again:

Paige: Is it a Sega Genesis game system?

In this case, Josh would probably decide that his iPhone is more like a Sega Genesis than anything else that Paige has guessed. So he says:

Josh: It’s more like a Sega Genesis than anything you’ve guessed so far. 

This makes for a good rationalist game because it's real cerebral. The Breakfast Server is often having to decide things like "hmm, is the International Space Station more like a bridge, or a boat?" or "Is the moon more like America or like communism?". It ends up involving lots of fun discussion.

(I play with slightly different rules, where you only say "It's more like a Sega Genesis than a fireplace", and leave it at that. It might hypothetically be possible to go in a circuitious route where "It's more like A than B, but due to unstable, on-the-fly ontological shifts, it turns out that an old guess C was more like it than A")

We played this and it was fun! Thanks for the recommendation!