So we’re all staying home now (you BETTER be!) to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Sure you’re bored, but you’re also protecting your health and everyone else’s too (go you!). But back to the whole boredom thing: There’s definitely a solution that will keep you busy (maybe too busy…) and serve as a much-needed distraction from the general chaos of the entire world right now. And that solution is video games.
I’ve noticed so many throwbacks—Club Penguin, anyone?!—popping up on my Twitter feed, and it’s like reliving my middle-school days.
If you’re looking for some good ol’ nostalgia and escapism, here are 12 of the best online video games to play, available on all kinds of platforms. Browse the below, so you can find a new one to be addicted to—or rediscover your 2006 obsessions.
Okay, literally everyone is talking about this!!! It’s the newest launch for the Nintendo Switch, and it’s downright delightful. You can create your very own island, fly to other mystery ones, and even visit your friends through the online play feature. If you already have the Switch, you can buy the download code. If you don’t…well, the game consoles are basically sold out everywhere. BUT you can get the Nintendo Switch Lite—just know they don’t feature detachable controllers for multiplayer use.
You’ll spend an unspeakable amount of hours catching all the local flora and fauna (I haven’t been able to stop fishing, I think I need an intervention), decorating your house, talking to your cute animal neighbors, and finding ways to pay your mortgage back to that capitalist raccoon Tom Nook.
Another game that allows you to build your own world is The Sims. There are so. Many. Versions. You have Island Living, Strangerville, Cats & Dogs, Parenthood, Jungle Adventure, you name it. And those are just the expansions within The Sims 4. You can play it on a PC or Mac computer, but it’s also available on the Xbox, Playstation, and Wii.
PSA: You can use all this extra time on your hands to check in on your abandoned Nintendogs and see if they’re still alive! What better way to pass these days then to train, feed, and take care of a cute, virtual pup. If you still have your Nintendo DS, dig it out, put this game on, and you’ll forget why you stopped playing in the first place. There’s a similar game called “Little Friends” that’s available on the Switch console, but IMO, it’s no substitute for the original—although it does have cats.
Just embrace the fact that you’ve stepped into a time warp because Club Penguin is back and better than ever. It was discontinued in 2017, but now there are more than 6 million registered users. If you need a refresher: You can build a penguin avatar, chat with other players, play games, buy an adorable pet Puffle, and deck out your very own igloo. Yeah, people are STILL trying to tip that damn iceberg.
Possibly even more of a throwback than Club Penguin, is NEOPETS. Yes, it’s still up and running. If you remember your old login, there’s never been a better time to check in on your bbs from 2002 (impressive, wow). You could also just create a fresh account and start over. You’ll have the time of your quarantined life playing all of the games on the site (my personal fave is Cloud Racers in Faerieland), collecting Neopoints, getting some adorable petpets, and building your own shop.
The Oregon Trail
If you ever played this in your elementary school class on giant computers, you’re in luck. You can access it for free with the link above. See how far you can make it without catching scurvy. Wishing everyone have a safe wagon crossing.
Jackbox’s “Party Pack” is perfect for larger groups and it’s easy to play remotely. If one person has the program, the rest can enter a room code and name with this link. There are tons of games to choose from, like Quiplash (although the game isn’t featured in the most recent party pack), Push the Button (you have to guess who’s the alien hidden among humans), and Joke Boat (where you can live out your dream of being a standup comic…on a boat). The more absurd your answers, the better.
One of Nitrome’s most popular games is pretty self explanatory: You’re a chicken that lays bombs instead of eggs. Cool, right? It’s available on PCs and Macs, but you can also play it on the Nintendo Switch. It’s a platform game where you (i.e., as the aforementioned Bomb Chicken) have to escape a food-processing plant by solving puzzles and, of course, blowing up any enemies along the way.
Words With Friends
Chances are you had this app on your phone at some point, so why not download it again? Challenge your friends to a game (or like ten) to see who’s the ultimate wordsmith of your group.
Untitled Goose Game
So this one isn’t really a throwback (it launched in 2019), but it’s just too perfect not to include. I saw screenshots of this goose game floating around my Twitter feed a while back and had no idea what it was from, but upon thorough investigation I finally found the website. The short description: “It’s a lovely morning in the neighborhood, and you are a horrible goose.” Basically your whole job is to completely terrorize any human in your path. Sign! Me! Up!
Cards Against Humanity
Your fave party card game is now avail online via the link above! Apparently the site is receiving tons of new users (hmmm, wonder why?), so it can be delayed. Once you’re in though, you can be inappropriate and nonsensical with your friends to your heart’s content.
My dad showed me Myst when I was a kid, and I got seriously hooked on it. It’s basically an Escape The Room situation on an deserted island. You just start clicking around to see what pops up. There are puzzles to solve and spooky areas to explore that will keep you entertained (and creep you out a lil). And don’t worry—if you’ve solved the whole game, there’s a sequel named Riven you can play right after.
For the insanely patient gamers out there, create an entire rollercoaster-like set up for this poor tiny person just trying to ride a sled. Use the tools to draw ramps, loops, and hills and you’ll send that lil dude flying. Designing an epic ride can be time intensive and requires more than a few test tuns to get it just right if you’re up for the job.