It’s the most wonderful time of the year! You know, the time when the darkness lasts longest, the air is the coldest, and you’re forced to spend hours, days, even weeks with people you normally spend much of the year avoiding: your extended family.
That might sound like a horrible ending to a horrible year, but all the festive free time you’re about to have does at least leave room for plenty of fun activities. If you can slip away from the family then you’ve got a surfeit of excellent video games on which to gorge yourself. But don’t despair if you’re stuck with other people because — dear Verge reader — I’ve come up with a series of 2016-specific games you can play in a group.
The Game of Life
The classic board game, updated for a millennial generation. Players born before 1970 start half-way along the track and get to make two moves every turn, while players born after 1981 may not ever buy property or hold down full-time employment. An exception may be made if the younger players find themselves drawing the cards marked “YouTube star,” “social media influencer,” or “owner of famous dog.”
Special rule: female players receive two-thirds as much money as male players, but male players may not acknowledge this discrepancy.
Exactly the same as Pictionary, but with one tweak: every picture must also feature Pepe, the white supremacist cartoon frog.
Spend years lining up complex bids for rival conglomerates only to get bogged down in interminable legal proceedings with governmental regulatory bodies. Eventually abandon the plan after it becomes apparent that the deal isn’t going to come together, in time for a major rival to sweep in and make the same bid. Still, though, it’s not as soul-destroyingly boring as the real Monopoly.
Nothing is as bad as real Monopoly
Fake News Charades
Players gesture to act out descriptions of things that never actually happened. In addition to movie, book, or TV show, participants can choose to depict Facebook posts (denoted by the actor pointing at their face), Twitter hoaxes (the actor making bird wings), or politicized stories dreamt up by teenagers in Moldova for ad revenue (the actor dancing under a shower of imaginary money).
Deploy two bottles — one of gin, one of rum — on a table. Players blindfold themselves and drink from each bottle in turn, screaming “GIN!” while drinking gin, and “RUMMY!” while drinking rum. The game is won when you’re intoxicated enough to cope with your extended family.
Before the game begins, players choose their favorite animal, then use Twitter to find a single struggling artist each. The selected artists are then commissioned to draw a fursona of the player, with the winner the person able to obtain a full-color, semi-explicit image of their animal alter-ego for the cheapest price.
Star Wars No Risk
Like the Star Wars-branded wargame, but instead of invading their opponents’ territories, players compete to come up with increasingly unworkable ideas for Star Wars spinoff movies. A biopic of Salacious Crumb! Stormtrooper Academy: Their First Assignment! Return of the Jedi but with a gender-swapped Sarlacc pit! Rogue Wan: Kenobi Goes Bananas!
They all sound terrible, but it doesn’t matter! They’ll all make billions. Everyone’s a winner!
The cheapest fursona wins
Another update on a board game classic, Diplomacy takes the action to the dinner table, where US-based players are tasked with keeping the peace between Trump- and Clinton-voting members of their family long enough for a full meal to be eaten. Participants can choose their favorite method of smoothing over tensions — reasonable debate, inane distraction, wild gesticulation — but you’ll be disqualified if you take your plate into your bedroom to eat alone.
Also coming soon for the UK audience — Diplomacy: Brexit Edition.
Pass the Galaxy Note 7
Oh God, you’ve just heard that your uncle never traded in his Galaxy Note 7 because he’d “already bought a really nice case for it.” Elect one person to be the runner, who will grab the device while the other players distract its owner with small-talk about the weather, their occupation, or a local sports team. In the case of particularly tenacious uncles, blockers may escalate the conversation by talking about politics or concepts of sexual identity, but be aware this may increase the game timer exponentially.
Players only succeed if the runner successfully exchanges the device before it spontaneously combusts at the dinner table.
A power cut has reset all of your IoT-enabled smart home appliances, and now you can’t unlock your front door! Navigate this maze of brittle colored plastic you’ve built for yourself, as your lights turn themselves off and on at random, and your haywire thermostat kills all the heating in your house. Shiver in the dark as your automated home does its best to trap you in its confines forever. “Alexa, help me!,” you’ll scream, but Alexa doesn’t respond. Nobody responds.
The winner is the person who can find the small piece of cheese they left out of their Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerator the night before.
Who wants to be a Twitter executive?
A one-on-one quiz format, where the questions include “how do we deal with escalating harassment?,” “where do we stand on free speech?,” and “oh Jesus, how the hell do we make any money?” For every question you get right, you get to stay in the job another month*. Players can choose to use a 50-50, DM a friend, or ask the investors, but beware — you might not like their answer.
*Remember that you can stop playing at any time — many others have.
Hide and Shriek
Find a dark corner in your house, curl up in it, and just scream for several hours about how horrible 2016 has been.
Just scream for hours and hours
Why not try these games out with your family over the next week? I mean, what else are you going to do? Eat and drink so much that you spend most of the time lying on the couch like a beached manatee, heaving big breaths as you unbuckle another notch on your belt? Actually, that sounds great, maybe do that instead.