While everyone is figuring out the best way to work together, whether remotely, co-located, or some hybrid, continuing to socialize with distributed colleagues is super important. In our previous guide, which focused on distributed teams and best practices for remote work collaboration, we mentioned online coffee breaks (Swedish Fika) and other ways to maintain camaraderie during work hours. But what about replacing the all-important after-work get-togethers? Either self-organized and impromptu among small groups or scheduled events for the entire organization, there’s still a need to hang out “off the clock”, blow off steam and have fun with workmates — maybe now more so than ever.
Enter online multiplayer games. Whether or not you used to play video games together in the office during lunch or as part of after-work socials, there are numerous options to playing together either competitively or cooperatively online. With voice-chat built into many games and with game-specific communication apps like Discord, colleagues can mingle in a very clearly non-work environment. While it might not be quite as good as the local pub, there are few things more bonding than winning a squad-based round of Fortnite together.
Here’s a guide on how to get started and some suggestions for the best online multiplayer games on all the major platforms. We’ll also dive into the wonderful world of crossplay enabled games for team-ups across colleagues whether they’re playing on PC, Mac, Playstation 4, Xbox One and even mobile.
For the uninitiated and sometimes even for online gaming veterans, figuring out how to join up with friends (and now colleagues) can be intimidating. Every game and every platform seems to have a different way of finding friends, adding friends, and finally getting into the same games with them. To reduce any confusion, especially when first setting up after-work gaming sessions, it’s highly recommended to start an online gaming hub for your company. While you might be tempted to simply create a Slack or MS Teams gaming channel since you already use those tools, a better option is to use a gaming-centric app like Discord.
Discord is built specifically to solve the problems of how to talk to each other while playing any game and how to make sure you all get into the same game in the first place. Setting up a company Discord server is a snap and will serve as a central hub for all your after-work gaming events. A few reasons to use Discord instead of Slack or MS Teams:
Once you have your server up and running, be sure to create at least a couple of text and voice channels prior to inviting colleagues to join. Here’s what Favro’s Discord server looks like:
Inviting everyone in your organization is done with a single shareable link. Send the link out in an email or post on a company-wide Slack channel. Employees click the link and Discord walks them through the rest. It’s a nearly effortless onboarding process.
An ideal way to break the online gaming ice, especially for the non-gamers in your company, is with a platform-independent browser-based game. You won’t have to worry about hardware incompatibilities and they’re typically very straightforward. Have everyone enter the same Discord voice channel, fire up their browsers, go to the shareable links and you’ve got an instant game night. A couple of good ones we’ve played at Favro are Codenames.plus and Mousewars.io.
Codenames is a social word game based on a physical card game of the same name. The premise is simple: two teams (red vs. blue), each with a spymaster, compete to uncover their and only their corresponding colored cards first. Only the spymasters know which cards belong to which team. At the beginning of each turn, the spymaster gives everyone a one-word clue and a number of guesses to help his/her teammates guess the correct cards based on word association. The competing team tries to confuse the guessing team with bogus suggestions until it’s their turn. Play a round and everyone will have it figured out in no time. It’s a blast!
MouseWars is a very fun and incredibly simple deathmatch shooter. Your mouse is your weapon. Everyone moves their mouse pointer around a starry background screen trying to avoid being hit. Left-click to fire left. Right-click to fire right. You can switch between various weapons with your keyboard. The player with the most “kills” when the timer runs out is the winner. No instructions or complicated setup necessary and everyone will be addicted after the first match.
Browser-based games are a great introduction, but you’ll probably want to take it to the next level with PC and console games. A big part of figuring out what to play next is going to depend on what hardware everyone at your company uses. Are you a Mac shop or PC shop and does everyone have a laptop? iOS or Android? Do the majority of employees (or their kids) own PlayStation 4s or Xbox Ones? Figure it all out ahead of time with a Favro backlog. Ask everyone to suggest a few games they’d like to play and on what platform then select games based on the most over-lap, at least to start.
One of the many cool things about Discord is that it’s great for impromptu online gaming with colleagues. Hop on the company Discord server at lunch, or anytime you’re not working to see who’s online and what they’re playing for a quick match. However, you’re primarily setting this up for planned after-works. That being the case, it’s a good idea to create an agreed-upon calendar of what to play and when. Here’s what that could look like in Favro.
You’ll eventually figure out which games are a hit. From there, get creative. There’s nothing like some healthy competition. Maybe set up your own company leaderboards for the games you have on a weekly rotation.
Again, in the spirit of competition, here’s an example of a single-elimination tournament being run in Favro.
To help you get started here are some suggested games that are perfect for after-work multiplayer. We’ve broken them down by platform and also provided a list of Crossplay supported titles. Crossplay games are an excellent choice because they allow colleagues to play together in the same game despite playing on different devices.
Regardless of what devices your company uses for after-work gaming, there is no shortage of incredible online multiplayer titles to choose from, and the selection continues to grow. Find your favorites but also keep it fresh by trying new games every week or so.
Online after-works will never be the same as meeting up in person, but gaming is a great way to stay social with colleagues and build camaraderie. Not to mention, since you’re all at home and nobody has to drive feel free to share an online toast. Cheers!