It seems like every time you’ve got your squad working well together, it’s time for someone to get orders out and someone new to get orders in. It can be tough to get a new squad working together well with a new member or, worse, building a mostly or completely new squad from scratch.
Icebreakers, introductions and silly games can help a lot. But what about gaming? These video games can be legitimate team-building exercises, just with funny graphics or gimmicks.
We’ve frontloaded the ones that are cheap or free and work on phones, but there are options here for anyone, no matter what Army recruitment era they hail from.
1. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
This party classic builds communication skills, is easy to pick up and understand and immediately sets the stakes since no one wants to blow up in the game. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes rocketed to popularity as a virtual reality (VR) game, but it’s easy to play on phones now.
One player, the defuser, has a phone with a bomb on it, and the other players share a manual that can be printed or displayed on a second phone. The two sides have to work together to defuse the bomb before everyone explodes. Requires two or more players.
2. Drawception, Gartic Phone or Any Paper Telephone Game
Drawception is available on a web app, so you can easily play it, even if your team is geographically split. And a ton of similar games are available on phones or web; just search for “paper telephone” or “telephone drawing” games.
Remember that old in-person game of telephone, where each player listens to the player before them, then tries to say the same phrase to the person after them, but the phrase inevitably gets mangled beyond recognition? These games are like that, but players instead take turns describing a drawing or drawing a description, instead.
3. Among Us
In Among Us, players try to keep their spaceship running while sussing out which of them is an evil imposter. Crewmembers race to solve puzzles and try to avoid being alone since that’s when the imposter will strike.
New players can figure out the game in just a few minutes, setup is quick since anyone can play via phone or computer and matches are fairly fast. You can even play via local WiFi, so this one can be played in the field (provided everyone downloads it before they step off). It can accommodate 4-15 players.
4. Rocket League
This absolutely over-the-top sports game sees drivers in rocket-powered cars playing soccer in a massive arena. It’s ridiculous, it’s fun and it brings out people’s competitive streaks. It also makes everyone laugh when someone inevitably talks big as they set up a shot and then flip their car while missing by a mile.
The game became free to play in 2020, but you need multiple computers or game consoles to get everyone online. Up to eight players per team.
5. Fall Guys
Fall Guys was a hit released into pandemic lockdowns. Everyone plays as a jelly bean taking part in rounds of fun obstacle courses or other minigames. It’s easy to pick up, cute and free to play. Welcome to the Blunderdome.
The game, however, requires that everyone have their own console or computer to play on. But it also supports crossplay, so you can mix and match, including with the Nintendo Switch. Up to 60 players.
6. Death Squared
Gather one to three of your closest friends and work together to get a group of robots through a series of puzzles. It’s more about puzzles than a traditional video game, so non-gamers can learn it quickly. Work together and you’ll all celebrate, or laugh as your robots suffer brutally.
It’s available on the major consoles or on personal computers via Steam. One to four players.
All you have to do is get into the kitchen and cook a meal. Of course, that kitchen might be on a pirate ship, might be split between two trucks racing down the highway or might be in space. Players have to work together to make and deliver food from the crazy kitchens.
It’s good for quite a few laughs and fosters cooperation and communication. It’s available on computer or console for 1-4 players.
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