Family game night sounds great in theory. Yet, I’m often met with eye rolls and groans when I set up board games. Plus, I am always the one picking up after the inevitable card tossing and spinner-breaking occurs. Once I open up the laptop, though, everyone gathers around with interest (and no one throws the dice in anger). Don’t fight it. Welcome to family game night, digital style — here are five great sites your whole family will enjoy.
Parents strive to treat their families to amazing experiences. Catapult, in partnership with Intel, is the field guide for the modern mom, offering tech-based at-home activities that will build lasting memories.
My kids are under seven, and Scholastic stars like Clifford and Word Girl are their heroes. Scholastic’s website has games we can play together, which leads to fun conversations about stories and characters who already feel familiar. Our favorites are matching games and concentration games — and yeah, these are educational too (win-win).
It doesn’t get more family-oriented than the Feud. And in the comfort of your living room, no one has to dodge kisses from too-eager hosts. “My 11-year-old son loves this game,” says mom Stephanie Chandler. Her family loves to break out the app when the grandparents come over for dinner. “[My son] will give us the survey questions and we’ll all shout out answers,” she says. “He’s the host — he tells us what we got right and wrong, which results in lots of laughs.” Plus, all the questions are clean and family-friendly, so even the youngest ones can get in on the “Survey says!” action.
If you love classic games like Pictionary, Charades, and Catchphrase, forget the paper and pens. You can play them all online using Game Gal. Game Gal generates words that you can use in all sorts of creative ways. Instead of buying cards for Pictionary or brainstorming your own Charades clues, Game Gal’s website has an endless supply of ideas that are organized by category and difficulty level. The clue-giver looks at the screen and then the screen gets passed to the next person after each round. “The laptop replaces cards and paper,” says Brandy Yearous, a mom of two whose family game nights are centered around this site. “It’s so much fun!”
This multiplayer game (free with optional in-game purchases) is simple enough for kids ages 10 and older, but layered enough that adults will enjoy it too. With Wizard 101, everyone in the family creates an avatar. Then, your character act as a Wizard Student and uses a card system to organize and deploy attacks, so it feels very tied to classic collectable card games of the olden days. While it is an online experience, parents have a lot of control over account activation and interaction with players outside of the family.
Pogo lets you create teams and goals to play online versions of games like Boggle, Risk, and Trivial Pursuit. The free version of the site has ads. You can get rid of them by upgrading to the paid version of the site, which is $5.99 a month. Pogo is a great way to give kids a taste of the classics and figure out what they’d like to play, you know, IRL.
Melissa Walker is a mom of two, a magazine writer, and the author of 9 novels for young adults and pre-teen readers. She grew up in NC and now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.
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