Playing Board Games Online

The Cards or Die Board Games collection has been appreciated in pubs, cafes, weddings, corporate training, senior citizens groups, schools, dementia cafes and festivals.

Now, Cards or Die board games are online. Founder Ann Jones says:

“For me, board games are always about connecting with other people. Before now, that has always meant sitting round the table, touching the pieces, shuffling the cards, chatting and laughing. Board games are intrinsically tactile and social. But now, with all my bookings cancelled, I like many of you have had to rethink things. I looked at online gaming in its true sense with virtual boards and pieces, but it’s just not for me. I’m not a tremendously digital person. I use technology but honestly I’d be happy if I still had my typewriter, still sent and received actual letters and I could still call the operator if there was a problem with my phone calls.” 

Given Ann’s stance, she came up with a low tech solution in a Google doc. This suggests times and dates along with details of games which can be played. There is then a call via Skype with the people who want to join in. It’s a simple solution, yes, but also an effective one, which has so far seen players compete with Forbidden Island, Pandemic (not everyone’s choice), Boggle, Fletter Fuse and Picture This.

Ann says that she’s really enjoyed connecting with people over Skype, meeting new people and some familiar faces.

“I find Skype, Zoom and any other facetime apps which allow multiple people in the conversation quite awkward. I find it difficult to read social cues if I am not face to face with people in real life so these kinds of apps can make me feel incredibly anxious. However, doing a structured activity where (even in co-operative games) we take turns has helped me to feel comfortable online. Board games are a brilliant way to reduce or remove social awkwardness. I knew this was true in real life and now I know it is true online too.” 

Ann is keen for anyone to welcome to sign up to sessions she is running or get in touch and request a game. A group can book (whether in the same house or spread across a few households) on a pay as you feel basis. She’s mindful of people being in the same situation as she is – having to stay indoors and not being able to earn anything. Anyone who has no income is welcome to join in. Ann is relying on anyone who can afford to pay to do so as they see fit. 

So – what’s involved? The first step is for Ann to teach each game to anyone who is not already familiar with it. She will then either join in or else she will facilitate to make sure everyone knows what they’re doing! Prior to playing, Ann emails useful information to everyone, so they have some starting knowledge.  

What works online?

Ann is still working out the answer to this. So far, she’s concentrated mainly on quiz games and co-operative games. Have a look on the google doc to see what sorts of games she’s offering for inspiration.

Ann says: “Co-operative games work well as they don’t require you to keep your hand of cards hidden – you are working together to solve a puzzle, grab some treasure, cure a pandemic or escape a windswept desert. It’s also fine that one person moves the pieces on the board. Movement is just one small part of your strategising that turn.

Quizzes are good fun online and if there are a few of you in a household you can easily play against another household. Family Fortunes is one example. Quizzes are also plentiful on the internet and can easily be adapted to match the interests of your family and friends. It’s something you can get creative with – spend a bit of time creating the perfect quiz then get your family or friends online to see who triumphs!”

There is a thread which Ann regularly updates – on her Facebook page – which has lots of links to free games and activities so you can always download games there and then play with friends online.

Ann’s closing message: “Whether you are playing online with Cards or Die or getting together online with family and friends – keep in touch, stay safe and look after yourselves. Hope to see you at The Winchester for a game when all this has blown over.” 

Ann founded Cards or Die in 2017, and was a finalist in the Yorkshire Choice Awards in 2019. She was a teacher for 17 years and welcomes people of all ability levels, ages and interests to join in the play.

Photograph provided by Ann Jones.

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