Playing the Pandemic

Being stuck indoors for months on end is no fun, so we are meeting up online to play games. It’s just like a regular game night, except even worse if you spill your beer.

We use Discord (a chat app designed for gamers) to arrange games and generally chat to each other. It’s not a public server — only friends and friends of friends are involved.

Whoa, hold on, what?

If you are already thinking “this is way too complicated for me, I just want to play games”, then you are RIGHT, but this is the world we live in. But seriously, all you have to do is get through the ‘How to join’ section and then ask for help and someone will sort you out.

How to join

If you already use Discord: join our server using invite and you’re off to the races. (Not literally, all public gatherings are banned.)

If you don’t use Discord yet, whoa you have an adventure ahead. Only kidding, it’s easy.

On a web browser

  1. Click on this link:
  2. Register a new account.
  3. When you’re in, on the left you’ll see a list of text channels. Start by clicking on #chat and join the general conversation. There are some ‘pinned’ (always visible) posts from a nice person called Daisy which should give you an idea of how it works.
  4. The other channels are for organising particular games. You can post in any of them, either to respond to a game proposal or to propose your own.

Using the phone app

  1. Download the Discord app from whatever app store you have sold your soul to.
  2. Choose to register a new account.
  3. Once that’s done, choose ‘Join an existing gaming community’ and then paste in the link
  4. The app is very swipey, so swipe around a bit until you see the list of text channels and tap #chat and again you’re off.
  5. The other channels are for organising particular games. You can post in any of them, either to respond to a game proposal or to propose your own.

Once you’re up and running, you can use the app, web browser or on the desktop software for Windows or Mac. It’s very snazzy and very black, because it was originally made for video gamers and video gamers like their things to be black because they believe that makes them seem more COOL.

What you’ll need

Everyone will need:

  • A computer with a decent internet connection. A tablet might be ok for some games but they mostly suck at multitasking (I’m looking at you, Surface Pro) and don’t always run the right apps.
  • A webcam, just a standard built-in one is fine, we are not streaming HD porn here.
  • Headphones or earphones with a mic. If you have uncomfortable ones, that’s your lookout, but you will eventually decide to buy more expensive ones.

Then, individual games might use any of the following, but you can cross these bridges when you come to them:

  • ordinary video & voice chat services on the web
  • the built-in voice chat system in Discord
  • board game simulators like Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia (sometimes free, sometimes you have to pay for them)
  • a specialist roleplaying site called Roll20
  • standalone apps for playing board games, either iOS/Android or Steam
  • email and webpages (for some long-term games like Slow Motion Diplomacy)
  • or whatever else the creator of the game recommends

Who can join in?

Anyone in the group can join a game. Anyone in the group can propose a new game for others to join. Anyone in the group can propose their friends to join the group. As long as we keep it to people we know, it’s all good.

You don’t have to play a minimum or maximum number of games. You can just lurk, or chat but never play anything, if you want. It’s a free country, as long as you don’t STEP OUTSIDE YOUR HOUSE or TOUCH A DOORKNOB.