Last weekend, I was due to visit my brothers and sisters-in-law for dinner in Derby followed, inevitably, with some drunken Jackbox Party games. Coronavirus put paid to that, and every other plan around, and yet we were still able to put the second part into action remotely, quarantined across the UK.
And you know what? It worked surprisingly well. Minigames that require quick responses are out thanks to the unavoidable lag, but anything that works asynchronously is still a blast. Best of all, only the party host needs to buy the games.
If you’re not familiar with the Jackbox series, it’s a spin off from the You Don’t Know Jack quiz games. Each player connects to the minigame via smartphone and types or draws answers into their phones, which makes this perfect for remote streaming.
The best ones for isolated play are Quiplash (where you come up with funny answers to a question and everyone votes on their favourite) and Drawful (where players are given a weird phrase to draw, and then other players guess at what the phrase might have been.) Tee K.O. is harder to explain here but is also strongly recommended, and I suspect readers of The Big Tech Question will also enjoy the early 90s janky AOL vibe of Survive The Internet.
The games are available on all platforms from consoles to Android to PC. But for the purposes of this tutorial, you’ll want the PC versions which come in packs available from Steam, the Epic Games Store or Green Man Gaming. You can also buy each title on its own directly from Jackbox Games, but if you just want to dip your toe in with a free test, try the standalone title Drawful 2 – which is currently available free until 11 April.
How to play Jackbox games over the internet
- Download the games you want to play. They come in packs of four or five titles that usually come in at under £20. I’d recommend Party Pack 3 as a good starter, as both Quiplash 2 and Tee K.O. suit the remote-play format pretty well.
- Pick your video conferencing call software of choice – just make sure it supports screen sharing. I used Zoom which works really well, though it will kick you off every 40 minutes unless you have a paid account.
- Create your room and load up Jackbox. Set the game to be screen shared with everyone in the chat room.
- Tweak the settings in game. You’ll want to turn the volume right down (it’s not necessary for most games, and it drowns out group chat), and newer versions of Jackbox let you up the time for submitting answers, which is helpful given the lag involved in remote play.
- Create your game, and have every player connect to the room using the on-screen code.
- Have fun! Here’s one from a game of Quiplash I played earlier…