The lockdown measures imposed upon large parts of the world throughout spring and early summer of 2020 in response to the global coronavirus pandemic temporarily altered life as we know it for most of the population. Orders were implemented for everyone except key workers and other select groups of people to stay at home for weeks or months on end, depending on how quickly the country was able to gain control of the virus. Employees were transferred to home working, and multiple forms of entertainment such as pubs, restaurants, bookmakers, sporting events, retail outlets and more were closed or cancelled for the duration. The isolation required to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus resulted in people everywhere looking for things to do to keep themselves occupied while limited to spending time in their own homes with only their own families or housemates for company.
One natural result of this enforced stay at home was that people became more interested in playing games. With many temporarily out of work and everyone confined socially, playing games was a great way to take the pressure off, interact enjoyably and even, through video conferencing and online events, to communicate in a fun way with people from outside of the home. Searches for board games were higher in March 2020 than they had been for any other single month since Google Trends began gathering data in 2004. Within just four weeks of lockdown being imposed, the number of users who logged into Steam, an online gaming provider, increased from 16 million to 24 million. This type of heightened interest in games of all types naturally leads to people discovering new games, inventing their own or introducing variations to popular games with personalised new rules, and app creators jumping on the bandwagon to meet consumer demand with new and exciting things to play from home.
Cards Against Humanity / Psych
Cards Against Humanity is a highly popular party game among adults, in which players compete to deliver the funniest, rudest or most disgusting answer to a question, based on the cards held in their hands. Each player is dealt a hand of white answer cards, and a different player acts as the question-master each round, choosing the top black question card. Every player submits the answer they believe the question-master will think is funniest and places it anonymously in the middle. The funniest answer as declared by the question-master wins each round. Psych is an app developed in the same genre as Cards Against Humanity, but with a more personal twist. The Psych app asks questions specifically about people playing the game, with players submitting answers anonymously through the app to see whose is deemed funniest.
What games night at home would be complete without a classic casino game? Roulette is one of the most popular table games in the casino and there are various ways to enjoy the thrill at home. Physical roulette wheels can be purchased, opening opportunities to play variations of the game with new rules created by the house. Forfeit roulette involves the losers (or winners) of each spin to perform an unpleasant task, such as drinking a shot of soda spiked with salt or black pepper, or some form of dare thought of by other players. Roulette can also be enjoyed as a household or with members of different households logging onto an online casino for a live dealer experience, giving the real feel like you’re at a physical casino.
Poker Night / Race Night
Poker is another casino game that can be played face to face or through logging on to the a poker site to play virtually with friends in other residences. Many online poker sites have free play options for beginners, or low-stakes tables and sit-and-go tournaments ideal for bringing people together without risking too much money. An at-home race night can also be a lot of fun and replicate the thrill of being at the races without breaking social distancing rules. This can be done using a race night DVD kit or accessing tailored race night services from online bookmakers or other sites.
Create Your Own Game
One of the most exciting aspects of playing games at home rather than in organised venues is that new rules can be created, or new games invented from scratch. Creating a card game or board game takes thought, time and commitment, which is precisely what many people were looking for as a distraction during lockdown. Home-created games do not have to be entirely unique – aspects of existing games such as dice, boards, cards or certain rules can be implemented but adapted to make an original variation. One of the key benefits of lockdown for new game creators is having a captive audience, and one probably willing to try anything new to boot. If a tried and tested game has proven enjoyable and popular during lockdown, there could even be options to develop it further and upload the finished version into the public domain.
Creating a new variation of a game can be as complex as designing the whole thing from scratch or as simple as adding personalised rules or forfeits to an existing concept. A new twist is almost always appreciated, especially by people confined to home and seeking excitement.