Activity Ideas Besides Talking for One-on-One Zooms
May 12, 2021 9:03 AM   Subscribe

I Zoom weekly with one of my siblings, and I'm casting about for things to do with him into the future.

At some point over the last year, I (38) started talking over Zoom weekly with one of my brothers (23). It started because I’ve wanted to do better with family relationships, so I’ve been trying to connect with them more, despite living a few hundred miles away. My brother, reminding me a lot of myself, was an easy starting point. Plus he’s in college, and I’m the only one in our immediate family who graduated, so that’s something we’ve got in common.

Besides talking about college and the latest goings-on at home, we’ve used this time to watch some TV or movies together. He got into Dungeons & Dragons a month or two after I did, so we chat about that too. I’m wondering what else we can do during our time together. (A one-player D&D game has occurred to me, but I’m seeking other options.)

He doesn’t have a job, and he hasn’t made any friends at school. The workload seems to occupy him pretty thoroughly, so he doesn’t have much time for video games, his major hobby. With other friends, I can talk about books (he doesn’t read) or current events (he seems indifferent, and I can’t blame him; at his age, I was) or things they’ve been watching or just how they’re feeling. My brother is a little more taciturn when it comes to what he’s thinking and feeling.

So if you have simple games that work for two over Zoom (my laptop can’t handle actual video games on Steam or the like, and I don't have access to any consoles) or good conversational topics that work pretty well generally or literally any other ways you bond with those you care about who live miles apart, I’d love to hear them. Just to head off any suggestions along these lines: I have asked him how he'd like to spend our time together.

Thanks in advance!
posted by xenization to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Does he like escape-style games? A lot of them have sprung up online over the past year. There are more elaborate and expensive ones, and then there are simpler and cheaper ones like Together Apart and Tick Tock: A Tale for Two where the puzzles are relatively simple and the real challenge is effective communication with a partner when neither of you can see what the other is seeing. (I mention those because I've played them, but of course you'd want to check to see if the theme would be appealing to both of you. I think there are a few D&D-styled ones like this, whose names I can't remember.) I've really enjoyed playing these with friends and an occasional sibling.
posted by praemunire at 9:07 AM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My partner and I play a lot of random games on Board Game Arena. Basic lever, which is fine for most things, is free, and then there is a video chat available if you spring for premium ($24/year I believe) so you can kind of zoom while playing. We've liked learning new games together, some of them stick and become ones we play regularly and some don't.
posted by jessamyn at 9:36 AM on May 12, 2021

Codenames Green! (aka Codenames Duet, the two-player/cooperative version).
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:52 AM on May 12, 2021

Best answer: I think it would be very nice during conversations for you to catch him up on YOUR life: the friends you make and what you talk about, the hobbies you have, the current events that are interesting to you, books you are reading, etc. Just because he's not doing this stuff (yet) doesn't mean he won't.

Something I think about from time to time is how my parents had NO friends outside of each other and didn't participate in any activities that weren't either their jobs or focused on me or my brother. I think it messed me up a bit because I had literally no reference points for adult friendships or hobbies. You just grew up and got a job you hated and kids you yelled at and that was your life. And then I was tossed into college with a bunch of peers who were also trying to navigate how to be adults, and I was just kinda lost. I mean, I figured out what made me happy eventually, but I'm still a bit of a social weirdo.

Anyway I would have KILLED for an older person who actually wanted to talk to me about regular life stuff, even if I couldn't relate (yet). Having an older friend who models healthy adult life is an invaluable thing for a young person who hasn't really figured their shit out yet.
posted by phunniemee at 9:56 AM on May 12, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: You can use Steam Remote Play Together to play together with only one side having a gaming system and the game. It's not too much different from using Zoom or similar to share a screen and allow remote control, but you need a decent internet connection.

It's best for slower-paced games where players alternate turns. I've had good experiences with Golf With Your Friends.
posted by meowzilla at 10:57 AM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

You can play Yahtzee and Scattegories over Zoom quite well.
posted by sibilatorix at 11:53 AM on May 12, 2021

My friend and I play Dominion on zoom.
posted by latkes at 12:06 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

You could try cooking/baking the same recipe together.
posted by coffeecat at 12:20 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Following on the game idea, you could try some other frameworks that work better for 1:1 too. Listing them would be a whole separate thread (and not one I'd be qualified to add to a whole lot, honestly) but here's one book full of 1-page RPGs.
posted by mark k at 12:44 PM on May 12, 2021

Best answer: Seconding Boardgame Arena! Very cheap, good set of games, straightforward interface, links to very clear “how to play” videos. I used it a lot during our hard lockdown last year. Just have it open in a window with your usual Zoom or whatever alongside it.
posted by robcorr at 12:18 AM on May 13, 2021

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