In our time working with remote companies, Jackbox Games sometimes come up as a way to have fun with colleagues. With a focus around trivia and multiplayer, these games are often easy to pick up and engage the entire team. Although they weren't designed for the workplace, as companies have gone remote, Jackbox Games have been an increasingly popular choice for fun and relaxation. Below is a guide that goes into the history, the most popular games for remote groups, and how to best incorporate into the remote work environment.
History of Jackbox
Although most people started hearing about Jackbox Games during the pandemic and lockdown, Jackbox Games, the developer behind the Jackbox Party Packs, has been actively producing games since 2008.
In their earlier years, they were best known for a series of video games called “You Don't Know Jack” – a trivia game with gibberish pop culture questions. Building on the trivia theme, Jackbox Games came out with Fibbage in 2014. Fibbage was a “lying, bluffing, fib-till-you-win multiplayer trivia party game.” It was an immediate success.
Then, with Fibbage as the core game, Jackbox Games added a series of small multiplayer games and published “The Jackbox Party Pack.” Another success. Although none of these games ever reached mainstream audiences, they were enough to support Jackbox Games as they developed new iterations of the Party Pack. As of writing (2023), there are 10 distinct Jackbox Party Packs.
The breakthrough moment for Jackbox Games came during the pandemic. The Jackbox Party Pack became an “overnight” success as people increasingly turned to these games to socialize with their socially distant friends.
Top Jackbox Games for remote groups
Jackbox Party Packs follow a pretty standard formula. Almost all of the games have some trivia component and they're meant to be played in a social setting. Occasionally, some games will have single-player options. However, Jackbox Games shine in a multiplayer setting.
Within each Party Pack are five games. Any given Party Pack can have games ranging from original titles like Weapons Drawn, or updated versions of old games, such as Fibbage 4 in Party Pack 9.
Below, we'll talk about some of the more popular Jackbox games.
Quiplash 2 is designed for 3 to 8 players. It's a trivia game where players are given a prompt such as, “the worst theme for a pinball machine.”
The game then randomly pairs the players' responses and pits them against each other in a head-to-head battle. The other players (or audience if broadcasting to a wider group) vote on the players' responses to the prompt, and the original authors receive points based on the number of votes that their response garnered. And, when a player's response receives all of the votes, that's known as a Quiplash.
Quiplash games run for 3 rounds, where each player has a turn submitting their response in each round. At the end, the player with the most points is the winner.
What sets Quiplash 2 apart from the original Quiplash is the ability to for players to generate custom episodes and as well as special final round categories like “Comic Lash,” where players fill in the missing dialogue in a cartoon strip.
In some ways, Quiplash resembles Cards Against Humanity. But instead of using pre-written paper cards, players have the freedom to type in their own unique responses.
Fibbage 3 is especially fun for 2 players, but can accommodate a group as large as 8 players.
Each round, a player (writer) is given a pop-culture trivia question with a missing word or phrase. They fill in a convincing fake answer.
The other players (guessers) are then given the question with the real answer mixed in with the fake answers. The guessers receive points if they choose the correct answer. And the writer receives points if the guessers selected the writer's fake answers.
In a head-to-head two player battle, the game takes on a new element of strategy where the writer isn't just trying to create the most convincing answer, they're also trying to throw off their opponent by introducing tailored answers.
The writer position is then rotated to a new player for the next round.
What makes Fibbage 3 fun is that the right answers are simply ridiculous. For example, a question in the game is, “In 1976, the Harlem Globetrotters announced that their first honorary member would be ____.” The answer? Henry Kissinger. The writer's fake answer is often just as plausible as the correct, real-world answer.
Fibbage 3 builds upon the original Fibbage with a new game mode where players can use odd facts about themselves instead of pop-culture trivia. In this mode, players now compete on how well they know each other. This is great for remote teams that might not interact too much outside of work. It allows each person to showcase their non-work selves without having to feel awkward or pressured to do so.
Trivia Murder Party
Trivia Murder Party accommodates anywhere from 1 to 8 players. It's one of the few games within Jackbox Games that can be played solo.
In the game, players are given trivia questions, and if they choose the wrong answer, they're sent to the killing floor by a murderer named “The Ghost”. At the killing floor, the players need to compete in mini-games to stay alive. These mini-games range from trying to drink from a non-poisoned chalice, memorizing murder weapon patterns, and making the longest word you can from a block of ransom note letters. Players that fail the mini-games are “killed” and become ghosts.
The last player standing is the winner. In a single player game, the objective becomes to survive nine rounds of trivia and mini games.
Trivial Murder Party adds an extra twist to the normal trivia game. For example, if all living players get two questions right in a row, everyone is sent to the Killing Floor by “The Ghost”. These twists and turns keep the game fresh. Even when dead, players still answer trivia questions to earn money. In the case where all the players are dead, the winner is the ghost with the most money.
Quixort is another Jackbox game that has a single-player mode. It supports 1 to 10 players.
The game's rules are quite simple: players work together to arrange multiple answers to a single trivia question into a proper order.
For example, the trivia question might be, “Sea animals by depth that they can dive” and players need to compare answers such as “Manatee”, and “Atlantic Salmon”.
To add an extra degree of difficulty, players can't see the full list of answers at the start. Instead, each answer is given one at a time – in the form of falling blocks carried by robots.
Like the previous games, Quixort succeeds in two dimensions. First, it has unique questions that are walk the fine line between obscurity and common knowledge. Second, Quixort has a competition aspect where players are divided into two teams that try to score as many points as possible.
Incorporating Jackbox Games to the Workplace
Because of its social focus and with most games designed around 1 to 8 players, Jackbox Games are being used in the workspace.
Remote companies use these games as a way to break the ice and to wind down after a long day. Teams can also come up with custom questions and responses that showcase their personality. Instead of coming up with more standard trivia questions or planning out elaborate events, teams can start a Jackbox game and start up in minutes.
Further, because Jackbox Games are trivia-based, there often aren't a lot of rules to learn or get familiar with. Everyone on the team can contribute and start debating about what the right answer to the question is.
Jackbox games can work well in that they're easy to pick up and available on most platforms. So if a coworker has bought the party pack on a console or their computer, other team members can join without needing to have special equipment or buy another copy of the party pack.
And finally, because Jackbox games are fast-paced and only last 10–15 minutes, they can be run before or after a meeting without invoking a large amount of context switching.
Fun Country, Video, and Playspace
The run with Jackbox Games is that they were designed with the idea that everyone is playing in the same space. In transporting the game wholesale to remote companies, there are still awkward interactions between players when playing the game.
In fact, most games have this issue. They were designed to be played with a healthy amount of visual and audio cues. In a remote environment, players lose the non-game-based cues from their counterparts, and the games become more similar to finishing tasks rather than having fun. It's often hard to replicate the same fun gaming experience for remote gameplay without rebuilding the Jackbox Games from the ground up. Part of this can be solved by opening a separate application to video call while playing, but switching between the two applications can be a hassle.
That's why we built Fun Country. Even though games like Jackbox Games have brought laughter and smiles, they're still a suboptimal social experience without the visual and audio cues. When played in remote companies, teams can sometimes be unable to relax and bond with others.
Further, most Jackbox games have a player limit where only 1 to 10 players can interact and play. This makes it a bad choice for larger teams that want to bond together. Together with the player limit is another factor of devices. While Jackbox games are available on most platforms, they still require device-level downloads. That can be hard for a team who wants to have fun together on a whim.
Fun Country solves all of these issues. With no limit on team members, we provide dedicated, persistent play spaces that work on any browser. We've integrated native audio and video feeds so that everyone feels like they're in the same room, working toward the same goal.