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The other night, the stars aligned—or at least the schedules of seven adults in four different timezones—and my friends and I were able to play Jackbox together.  For those who don’t know, Jackbox is a series of party games designed to be played online, requiring only one person to have the packs and stream the game.  The rest of the players watch the stream and play the game on their own device via  For our group, we play using Discord so we can also voicechat, for strategy and for making dumb inside jokes.


For people who don’t live near each other—our group is scattered across Canada, the US, and the UK—games like Jackbox are a great way to socialize, especially during a pandemic.  In early 2020, during the worldwide Covid-19 lockdowns, publisher Jackbox Games struggled to keep up with a sudden influx of new players; jumping from 100 million players to 110 million in two months, according to this Washington Post article.  This meant completely overhauling their sites, ad copy, and even the way they’d envisioned playing the game.


Fortunately Jackbox is easy to start and stop, so different players can join in and leave as needed.  Rounds are generally short and there’s no minimum amount of players, though generally only 7-8 maximum and some games just aren’t as fun with only a few people.  For us Jackbox tends to be a commitment—we say we’ll just play for a few hours, or a few rounds, and suddenly it’s 2 am in my timezone and our UK friend has stayed up the entire night.  It’s fun and addictive and best of all, I can play it in my pyjamas.


Libraries have been offering games and spaces to play them in for years now.  Kitchener Public Library, for instance, has a collection of thirty different games, focused on helping children learn and grow, available to borrow with just a library card.  Other libraries offering games to their patrons include North Perth Public Library, Newfoundland & Labrador Public Libraries, and Spruce Grove Public Library.


Board games aren’t the only types of games libraries help support.  There’s video games and associated consoles, of course, but many libraries also have a focus on tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons, which generally have an older audience.  Though I’ve personally never really gotten into that kind of roleplaying game, at least three of my friends have regularly scheduled sessions and we’ve discussed having our own little one-off game.  If we do manage to arrange that, I’d probably benefit from reading a game guide like Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse or Dragons & Treasures by Jim Zub.


According to market research company Euromonitor International, Games & Puzzles became the fastest-growing toy market globally back in 2016—long before the current pandemic.  But that doesn’t mean the pandemic hasn’t affected sales, especially among those aged 20 and older.  Lockdowns meant lots of free time, not to mention digital fatigue; with everything moving online, sitting down to a physical game is often a welcome break for the mind.


Board games as a whole have improved through the years as their popularity grows.  While there are still the classics like Monopoly—also known as Monotony in my family—and Battleship, there are also plenty of newer games to occupy an evening.  These range from easy and quick—like Bananagrams—to updates of classics—like Catan Junior, geared more towards kids and new players—to more involved games like Gloomhaven, which contains almost 100 scenarios to play through and specialized mechanics to make each game completely unique.  Many games—Cards Against Humanity comes to mind—are also being geared more towards adults, especially those of us who still have the sense of humour of a 12-year-old. No matter your skill level or interest, there’s sure to be a board or tabletop game out there for you.


There’s a new patch coming out on April 12th for the MMORPG that my friends and I all met on, Final Fantasy XIV.  This means the servers will be down for most of the night while the game updates—and we have another opportunity to play Jackbox.  As the current reigning champion (no matter what my friends may claim) I have a duty to defend my crown—or at least make as many dinosaur references and dirty jokes as possible.


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