By James Brischetta
The hardest part of quarantine for me is being away from my friends and extended family. Luckily, we live in the age of technology, where their wonderful faces are mere clicks away. But Zoom calls and Facetimes can only run so long before they become tiresome. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been on the search for ways to form more intimate connections with the people I can’t see in person. I’ve compiled the perfect set of programs and games that do just that. Here are a few of the FREE websites and apps I’ve been using to keep my Facetimes fun:
Recommended to me by my friend and fellow Messenger writer, Lauryn Andrews, Tutturu is the perfect platform to surf the web with your friends. Tutturu allows groups of up to 50 to hold audio and text-chat sessions on a shared private web server. The program shares the window with everyone in your group and allows you to scroll through almost any website together.
I use this program to watch movies with my friends on Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, which are all accessible websites on the Tutturu server. In addition, because the program runs on its own private server, it isn’t dependent on your home WiFi, meaning streaming sites like the ones listed above and other video-viewing sites like Youtube run much smoother than on any other screen-sharing program.
The program only supports audio and text chat with your friends, but if you want to see their faces, you could always do a separate Facetime call.
The thing about distance video calls that makes them so mundane and tiresome is that it takes away your ability to interact with people on a human level. To simplify this fancy string of words: You can’t sassily walk away from someone when they say something dumb. Well, Online Town fixes this issue.
This website lets you video call with friends, just like Facetime or Zoom, but through the eyes of a digital avatar. You can create your private digital town (or apartment for smaller groups) for you and your friends to walk around with your little video-game-like characters.
One of the most interesting features of this program is that it follows real-life communication patterns. The closer your character is to another, the louder and clearer their audio and video become. This feature makes any hang-out feel a little less digital, which is a nice touch and a good break from the staleness of our school Zoom meetings.
Jigsaw Puzzles Online
JigsawPuzzles.io allows you to complete jigsaw puzzles online with friends or with strangers. This website is perfect for the novel type of friend group who enjoys the simple things in life. I’m not a big puzzle person, but I’ve done a few puzzles with my family for fun. The site works conveniently and is entirely free to use!
Apps for UNO & Cards Against Humanity
Like with jigsaw puzzles, many people find that the best way to spend time with friends and family is to sit down and play a card game. Luckily, many board games and card games have been adapted to an online form.
Cards Against Humanity is one of the most popular playing card games among college students. The raunchy nature of the game excites any party in real life or on FaceTime. Many websites, like Pretend You’re Xyzzy, have created their clones of the game, which work well but aren’t canon. Evil Apples vs. Humanity, available in the IOS App Store and Google Play Store, is the best application for emulating traditional Cards Against Humanity. The app works great and is free to play on both platforms.
Neither app has a call feature, but you can Facetime on any other platform while using the app.
It’s essential to stay in touch with the people we care about. We must tend to our relationships and keep them healthy to get through this difficult time. I believe connecting with games and through streaming movies and TV can help us find normalcy when things seem chaotic.