You can hardly turn around without running face first into some doom-and-gloom story about the end of social interaction as we know it, all brought on by the ubiquity of smartphones and the millennial obsession with Snapchat.
This is a boring, tired narrative. Truth be told, smartphones can be used as a facilitator of social interaction, too.
Enter Jackbox Games, a video game developer based out of Chicago that’s quietly become the best maker of party games in the world. And it’s all thanks to those little apocalypse-bringing devices in your pocket.
Fart jokes don’t hurt, either.
Your phone is your controller
Jackbox Games has a pretty massive library of games for nearly every device, including PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam, and even Amazon Fire TV. They all work in nearly the same way.
Everyone gathers around the television and grabs whatever smartphone or tablet they choose. Using those devices, they go to “Jackbox.tv” on their browser and enter the four-letter room code displayed on the screen. Once you enter a display name, your device is synced up with the game.
As you can see above, six players have logged into the game “Drawful 2,” an updated take on Pictionary.
Here’s where things get interesting: Based on what’s going on in the game, your phone’s screen will change. Is it your turn to sketch a prompt? Your screen becomes a blank surface for you to sketch whatever the game asks of you. Once you’re done, your drawing will zoom onto the TV, at which point everyone else will type in what they think the prompt was that led to whatever monstrosity you just created.
The real prompt — which, up until this point, was only visible to the person drawing — is mixed in with everyone else’s guesses. If you guess the original prompt correctly, you get points. If you successfully persuade someone else to believe that the prompt you submitted was the original prompt, you get even more points. Get it?
Another game, called “Quiplash,” is pretty similar to something like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity. You’ll be provided with a fill-in-the-blank statement or some open-ended question, and you have to submit an answer that you think everyone else is likely to vote as being the funniest.
Jackbox Games is coming out with a new collection of games this fall, called “The Jackbox Party Pack 3,” which will have five different games included. Speaking from personal experience, throwing on just about any Jackbox game at a family gathering or casual party is a surefire way to have a great time.
So, before you start mouthing off about how the proliferation of smartphones spells the end for society as we know it, just ask yourself: Has it been used to make your entire family laugh at an infantile fart joke yet?
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