If you’re like me, you’re struggling to fight boredom during this time of quarantining, isolating, and social distancing. It’s really not easy trying to keep yourself occupied if all you want to do is get out of the house.
But, if you’re like me, you love game nights with your friends. And much like many people have discovered, there are ways to host game nights remotely, using services like Zoom to share screens and participate even from homes apart.
Jackbox games are lot of fun. My friends and I play it often. We love a good game night, and the remote session we held was a big hit. But every so often I need something to keep my brain exercised while I self-isolate. And that’s when I had the idea to host a remote trivia night.
When I floated the idea to my group of friends, the interest was high. When it was all said and done, they immediately asked me when the next one would be (and yes, I’ve already come up with part 2). To be honest, while trivia certainly was easy to coordinate, setting it up was a lot more work than I had anticipated- but then again, I have a lot of time on my hands. Mercifully for you, I have some step by step instructions I can share with you so you too can put together your own trivia night, reader.
Basics of Moderating
First thing’s first- you’ll need someone to run the whole thing- and honestly, if you’re reading this, it could very well be you. You’ll need to choose all the questions in advance, determine how the game is run, determine how long the game will play for, etc. I will not lie- there’s a good amount of work that goes into it. But while I personally love answering trivia questions, I like coming up with them just as much.
Choosing Your Tools for Gameplay
A key component of this is picking what platform you’re going to use to host your trivia night. The key- for me, anyway- was to make the feel of trivia night as close to “Thursday night bar trivia at the pub” as we could, which means that teams will need to not only hear the Game Master addressing the room with questions and answers, but also communicate and deliberate privately with their respective teams.
We selected Google Hangouts as our main video chat site, but there are other tools like Zoom or Slack that could just as well. The only thing was just to make sure that each team’s microphone was muted on the main chat- or, at least, make sure that each team will keep quiet. As Game Master, you can share your screen with other people if you have some kind of PowerPoint to share with them, or you can simply read the questions allowed while the other teams look at your face.
In addition to a primary video chat, teams will need a way to deliberate amongst themselves before submitting answers. We were fortunate enough to have a number of pairs who were already roommates, meaning they could just talk out their potential answers in person, but one of our teams had all its members in separate spaces, meaning they had to communicate by other means. On top of that, every team will need a way to submit an answer to the GM. Google Hangouts also offers a chat service that teams can utilize to communicate before deciding on an answer. It’s not the same as talking to one another, but the team that was separated from each other ended up winning our event, if that helps. For other teams, a personal text to the GM works for submitting answers, or a private team chat that also includes the GM may also suffice.
If you’re the moderator, you’ll just need to make sure you’re sharing only one window of your screen so people can’t see other teams’ answers- or worse, the answers to the quiz.
Choosing Your Questions
My trivia rounds are combination of trivia I have experienced as well as trivia I found online. I use a combination of traditional question and answer as well as game-based trivia. The questions all range from easy to hard, from themed to general knowledge.
They were just… extensive. I go hard. Sorry.
Personally, we had 2 halves of 5 rounds of trivia, and each round had around 10 questions. So we’re looking at around 100 questions. We played for about 2 and a half hours. But when you have nothing to do, we figured, why not? I’m not saying you have to do that many, but, for scale, that’s what we did.
Most importantly, I had a presentation with rules, game setups, and one question per slide on it so people wouldn’t need me to repeat questions more than once. I also had the answers printed out next to me, that way I wouldn’t show the answers to any of the teams while I was screen sharing.
And if you think that sounds like a lot of work- it was.
So I’ve made it easy for you. Here’s the slide presentation I used, as well as the cheat sheet with all of the answers. The presentation is available for download, so if you need to edit out any of the questions (I had a current events section, for example), feel free to do so.
For the picture section, I have included the images themselves on the presentation. During the game, I sent each team the files via direct message instead.
The same is true for the audio portion. I have included the audio link on the cheat sheet with the answers on it.
During the Game
1. Break Your Players up into teams. For our trivia night, we had the luxury of telling players to pick their teams beforehand, and that went very well. It is helpful to select a single representative for each team to submit final answers to the moderator.
2. Set up each team’s private communication method We used Google Hangouts’ chat feature because it was there and it was the easiest to use and it was divisible into private chats. It is also possible to use another video chat service while also having your microphone muted on the main call.
3. Set Your Ground Rules You can choose your own, but here’s the general outline of what we went with:
4. Play! It’s the best part anyways.
5. Tally the scores and announce the winner I had a final wager question that was a little harder than the rest of the questions to finish the game. It added both drama and gave me a little bit of time to tally if so I could quickly announce a winner.
Overall, this was one of the most fun quarantine activities I’ve ever been a part of. I got some great feedback from my players, so much so that I’ve already started working on round two.
Feel free to leave a comment or send a message to the site if you have any questions for me. Happy Trivia!
I enjoy making lists, countdowns, and making sense of the world that I see around me.