Tech can help bring your family together over the holidays with group games that keep everyone entertained and getting along. After all, the grip of competition can keep everyone present, mentally engaged, and distracted from petty problems. Here's our picks for the best party games for phones and tablets.
This party game is easy to play in a full-room free-for-all, or you can split into teams.
Everyone takes turns as the "guesser." When it's your turn, just pick a category, then hold the phone up to your head with the screen facing out. Everyone in the room tries to make you guess the word or phrase onscreen by describing it or acting it out. Your goal is to guess each phrase correctly within the time limit.
Categories include "Blockbuster movies", "Act it out", "Icons, Legends and Stars" and "Accents & Impressions." If you enable the microphone and camera, there's even an instant replay option that captures your family's antics for future playback (or blackmail).
Its developers say that Bounden is a dance video game that's a mix of Twister and ballet. It's limited to two players, but others will stay entertained just watching each couple dance.
Bounden was developed in conjunction with Ernst Meisner, the choreographer for the Danish National Ballet. Each player holds one edge of the phone, with the phone laying flat between them. Bounden's unique interface uses your phone's gyroscope and accelerometer to guide you through one of eight different dances. Each player must work together to keep the onscreen crosshair moving as instructed.
This is classic charades, but instead of one person gesturing and the whole room guessing, the whole room pantomimes while one person guesses. Everyone from your little cousins to your drunk uncle acting out "Mary Poppins"? Sounds like good clean fun.
Just Dance Now
This game is a little more involved, but it's your best option if you really need to get people off the couch. In addition to a smartphone in each player's hand, you'll need to have some kind of large screen with a web browser, like a computer or Apple TV, that everyone can see.
Pick a song, and a dancing avatar will show up on screen. To play, hold the phone in your right hand and follow along the dancer on the big screen as if you were looking into a mirror. You earn points based on the accuracy and rhythm of your movements.
The app is free to download on iOS or Android, but you need to rent or purchase each song individually. There are very few free options. Songs range from kid-friendly with super-simple choreography, to risque pop songs with downright challenging moves.
Sketch Party is an updated version of Pictionary, the classic guess-what-I'm-drawing premise. Instead of crowding around a sheet of paper, you use your phone or tablet plus an Apple TV or HDTV with AirPlay Mirroring to broadcast each drawing in real-time to the entire room. You could even use an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil for extra-precise drawing.
$4.99; iOS only. The app's built-in settings let you set your own teams or even build a custom word list, which is perfect if you want to make a family-specific edition or keep things educational.
Bloop - Tabletop Finger Frenzy
Bloop pits players against each other in a battle to tap the most tiles on the device's screen. It's compatible with phones, but for best results, play on a tablet. 2-4 people can play at once.
Your goal is to tap the most tiles of your color before anyone else can. But the tiles move and shrink as play goes on. As real estate tightens and the pace escalates, the finger-tapping grows increasingly frantic and intense.
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