As the COVID19 pandemic continues to keep extended families, youth groups, and church friends physically separate, here are some games to enjoy via video conference (Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangout).
These games can be used as stand alone events or as part of larger programs, for example as a meeting ice breaker or part of a youth group gathering. Either way, if you are using games in a church context we encourage you to include a formation element. You might begin with a prayer and brief check in (tell us your name, one thing you are mourning today, and one thing giving you hope) or you might end with Compline (here’s a Google Slide deck of Compline ready to use).
Bingo is simple & extremely intergenerational. It translates well to Zoom and requires basically no prep work.
Suggested Age Range: 3 Years-Older Adult
Tips & Ideas: I generally do 4-5 rounds with my intergenerational group. The first three winners get prizes (a $5 gift card for ice cream in the mail). We close with Compline led by volunteers from the group.
Resources: My group uses these free printable bingo cards. The first time we played, I sent cards in the mail to families. But these can also be printed at home. The “Traditional Cards” offers 75 unique cards. I’ve been using a physical bingo board and spinner to call the numbers, but you can also use an online bingo number generator like this one.
In Pictionary one player draws a picture of a word/phrase that the other plays have not seen. Other players try to guess the word/phrase based on the drawing.
Suggested Age Range: Lower Elementary-Adult
Tips & Ideas: My group used the whiteboard feature of Zoom. I made everyone a co-host so they could pull up the whiteboard when it was their turn. I sent words via text, but they could also be sent privately in the chat. We did not keep score.
Resources: This Pictionary word generator worked well for my group. As the moderator, I picked slightly easier words for our youngest players and used the “hard” or “really hard” category for adults.
Scattergories is a quick thinking game that draws out players creativity. Players number a piece of paper 1-5. They are given a letter of the alphabet and five categories. They have 90 seconds to fill in all five categories with words/phrases that start with the chosen letter. Players are awarded points for each unique answer.
Suggested Age Range: Upper Elementary-Adult
Tips & Ideas: This game was a huge hit with a middle school group at church as well as a group of six adult friends.
Resources: Here’s a Google Slide Deck version of the game. Or you can share your screen and play this online version that offers 11 categories per round. If you want to roll letters for each round, here’s a Scattergories dice and timer.
Jeopardy is a great game for accessing a groups knowledge on a particular topic (for example, the season of Lent), but the topics can also be purely fun (for example, music, gardening, TV shows).
Suggested Age Range: Upper Elementary-Adult
Tips & Ideas: Assign a score keeper. Make sure you keep track of which categories have already been picked (for example, liturgical season for 200).
Resources: Here’s a template to make your own Jeopardy game using Google Slides. Here’s a keynote presentation with categories relating to the seasons of the church year.
Lamentations or Taylor Swift Lyric
Participants in “Lamentations or Taylor Swift Lyric” are presented with a quote and asked to decide if it is a passage from the book of Lamentations or a lyric from a Taylor Swift song.
Suggested Age Range: Middle School-Young Adult
Tips & Ideas: Depending on the size of your group, this can be played in teams or by voting using the poll feature in Zoom.
Resources: This game is available from Download Youth Ministries for $4.00 per powerpoint. There are four versions available for purchase here.
In Balderdash, participants are presented with an obscure word or person. Each player makes up a definition or reason the person is famous. The moderator reads all the answers to the group, mixing in the real answer. Everyone votes on the correct answer. Participants are awarded points for guessing correctly as well as for fooling others with their fake answers.
Suggested Age Range: Middle School-Adult
Tips & Ideas: For this game it is easiest to have everyone on a separate device so they can message the host separately using private chat. Alternatively, each player can text the host if everyone has a cell phone. If you have a large group, have someone make a list of the answers in the chat so everyone can vote more easily or use the poll feature in Zoom.
Resources: You can play using this Google Slide deck or share your screen and play this online version.
Digital Escape Room
Sydney Krawiec, a Youth Services Librarian in McMurray, PA creatively used Google Forms to create a Harry Potter themed digital escape room! The storyline is compelling and the challenges include math and geography. It might take a group about 20 minutes.
Suggested Age Range: Upper Elementary-Middle School
Tips & Ideas: This game works well with screen share and someone reading each page. Players may want to have paper and pen available.
Resources: Here’s the link to this escape room!
Sarah Bentley Allred received her MDiv. from Virginia Theological Seminary in May 2019. She now serves as Director of Children and Family Ministries at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina and as the Associate for Christian Formation and Discipleship for Lifelong Learning. Sarah is passionate about children’s spirituality, intergenerational worship, and small church formation. She loves local coffee shops, board games, the beach, and exploring new places with her husband, Richard, and their dog, Grace.