Long Distance Gaming

The world we live in right now is an interesting one. For me it has now been nearly 2 months since my last real game night. If you’re anything like me, then you’re probably losing your mind too. I know for a fact that I’m not the only one feeling this way. My instagram account has been flooded with photos of other gamers trying to get by the best they can. This, coupled with the efforts of Game Grid, have got me thinking about all the various ways that one can have a long distance game night.

I think it would be a mistake not to point out that any form of long distance gaming isn’t possible without modern technology. With a little creativity and the right equipment anything is possible. In case you were unaware, Game Grid has been putting a lot of time and effort to make it possible for gamers like us to keep doing the things we love. You see, the store has set up a nice area in the back, complete with lights, microphones, multiple cameras and a fantastic rig all so that the gaming doesn’t have to be put completely on hold. If you haven’t had a chance to check out their Discord or Twitch channel, I highly recommend you do.

Nearly every weeknight using their studio set-up, Discord, and Twitch they are streaming some sort of gaming content. They do paint nights, live stream games and designer interviews, and much more. For the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten to host a Wednesday game night, allowing others to use the voice channel on Discord to interact and play the game with me. So far I’ve gotten to play Azul, Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, and Escape Tales: The Awakening. I’ve had a really great time doing this so far, and if you don’t have anything to do around 7 pm on Wednesday night then you should really consider gettin online and joining me for a game or two.

It isn’t to difficult to recreate this sort of set-up at home with friends and family. All you really need is a smartphone or laptop. All you really need to do is set up a game, make sure it’s visible on camera and then get someone else to humor you by joining you for a game or two. I do have a few tips though. First, games without hands of cards will simplify things. Also, big boards with small components may be hard to see. I would definitely recommend some sort of abstract type game with open information and simple rules. Another great option are roll and writes.

Most of the popular roll and writes have pdf versions online for printing out when a player uses all of the pads of paper provided in the box. All you really need to do is direct your family or friends to the file and have them print out a copy or two for themselves and bam! Unlike with the other games mentioned before where they merely tell you what they’d like to do and you control the game, with a roll and write they actually get to right and mark off their own paper while only you manage the dice or cards. Another added benefit is that many roll and write games scale near infinitely, allowing even more people to get in on the fun.

Setting up and managing a complete game, cameras and audio included, can sound a little daunting. And even if you are down for the challenge, it can be pretty time consuming. So let me propose and alternative. There are a lot of great online sites that have digital versions of best games on the market. Some of my favorite sites include Tabletopia, Bard Game Arena, and Yucata. While the user interfaces of these may not be the most intuitive or practical, they are all functional, just be a little patient. Another added bonus of a site like one of these is that it is a great opportunity to try a new game before actually going out and purchasing it.

Most of these sites allow you to set up an account, meaning that it is easy to host and invite others to join a game with you. In each of these there is a chat option, as a means to communicate with those you are playing with, but if we’ve learned anything it’s that communication isn’t as difficult as it used to be. One can easily set up a Discord audio channel or even just a Facebook messenger call to add audio to any game. I’ve had a lot of fun getting online and chatting with friends while learning a new board game. It may not be a traditional game nigh, but it is the next best thing.

If this social distancing thing has taught me anything, it’s that where there’s a will there’s a way. It’s amazing to see how strong the hobby is and how truly dedicated everyone involved is to making it the best hobby it can be. So shout out to all the publishers discounting their games, making digital versions available, and pressing forward. Shout out to all the FLGS like Game Grid that are innovating and taking gaming to a whole new level. I’m excited to see the reinvigorated enthusiasm that everyone will bring to the table once all this is said and done. But until then, don’t let a little social distancing stop you, and have yourself a long distance game night!

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