How To Play Jackbox Games Online Remotely With Your Friends
If, like many of us, you find yourself feeling a little lonesome and cooped up during this incredibly difficult but incredibly necessary time of quarantine, any chance to hang out with your friend will come as welcome relief.
Jackbox is a game series that has encouraged the social element of gaming with a plethora of party packs (six at time of writing) for friends and family to test their skills in drawing, general knowledge and ability to pull the wool over their fellow players' eyes. Sadly, that's not always an option in recent times as many are confined to their homes alone, or in small groups.
Fear not though, dear reader, for it is entirely possible to play the Jackbox Party Pack games remotely - with a little ingenuity. A full and proper guide has been prepared by the awesome folks over on the Jackbox website which you should check out; but I will, below, lay out the basic guidelines of how to play with friends, on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Please note only the person hosting the session (that's you, if you're following this guide) needs to own the game. Everybody else plays for free.
PC (and Mac)
The most popular way to play will be on your computer, Mac or laptop. The difficulty will come in deciding how you're going to do it. The most important thing to have is software that allows screen sharing. A number of programs like Twitch, Discord, YouTube, Skype and Zoom are all great options, but for the sake of brevity, we'll use Google Hangouts as an example, because it's free, easy to use and doesn't require signing up to anything outside of your Gmail account. Again, do check out the guide by Jackbox for more options, though.
Step 1: Go to Google Hangouts. If you're signed in to your Gmail on the computer you're on, you should be good to go. Click on 'Video call' then 'Join or start a meeting'.
Step 2: Invite your friends either with a copy link (stick it in the group WhatsApp/Facebook etc) or by adding their email (Gmail only) address and sending them an invite that way. Each player will need their own computer for the Hangouts room, and a smartphone to play Jackbox on. Once you're all in the room with each other, it's time to get down to business.
Note: This next section is slightly different depending on your browser and what device you have, but it should be fairly simple to find the similar prompts. This was done on a Microsoft PC using Google Chrome.
Step 3: Load up Steam or whatever you use to play Jackbox and take the game off full-screen mode - this is important. There's an option for it in the game's settings. Once you've done that, head back to Hangouts and look in the bottom right corner of the screen. There should be an option to 'Present now'. Click this and choose 'A window' which will bring up every window you currently have open on your desktop. If you've done everything right, you should see Jackbox among them! Go ahead and select that one and hit 'Share'.
Step 4: Pick the game you want to play and head to jackbox.tv for your room code. Once everybody has input the code on their mobile devices, it's time to play the game! Make sure that you as the stream host sign in first to be the VIP and have control.
Step 5: Congratulations, you are now playing the game.
Using an Xbox One to play remotely with friends is incredibly easy, thanks to Microsoft's in-built Mixer software. Let's get to it.
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Note: We're using Mixer as an example here, but if you prefer using Twitch to stream on your Xbox, it's also an easy and viable option.
Step 1: Boot up your Xbox, and make sure you have your favourite Jackbox pack purchased. Only the person hosting will need to own the game, and you'll want to make sure you have a Mixer account set up and ready to go before streaming.
Step 2: Open the Guide Bar and scoot across to 'Broadcast & Capture' (the satellite dish-looking icon), then select 'Broadcast'. From here, go down to 'More options' and select whether you want to enable chat, change the stream name or have party audio. Take this opportunity to make a note of your Mixer URL (this should just be 'Mixer.com/' followed by your Live Account name). Press B to back out of your Guide Bar and get Jackbox ready to roll.
Step 3: On a laptop, you'll want two browser windows open. One with your Mixer account which should (fingers crossed) be displaying the Jackbox stream from your Xbox One. In the second window, head to your streaming/video conferencing software of choice. Refer to the guide for Google Hangouts on PC and Mac above and follow step 3 if you're in the minority of people who don't already have their favourite video conferencing site. If you've done everything right, they should essentially be the same steps. Happy days!
Step 4: Head to jackbox.tv and have everybody put in the room code on their mobile device. Once everybody is in, the VIP (which you'll want to make sure is you, since you're in charge of the stream) will start the game and you're having fun with friends online.
Much like on the Xbox One, streaming gameplay from the PS4 is very simple. The in-built streaming options are very easy to use, and the upshot of this method is that you don't really need any external video-conferencing sites to do it, just the ability to stream the gameplay and jump in a group call with your friends.
Note: In the example below we'll be using YouTube, but you can also stream your PS4 gameplay directly to Twitch. All you need to do is make sure you have a YouTube or Twitch account set up.
Step 1: Start up the PlayStation, then head over to 'Settings', 'Account Management' and 'Link With Other Devices'. Go down to the YouTube icon and sign in to your YouTube account. Once you're all signed in, you're ready for the next step.
Step 2: Start up Jackbox and hit the 'Share' button on your controller. From the menu, go down to 'Broadcast Gameplay' then choose the YouTube option. Once you've combed through details like stream quality, hit 'Start broadcasting' and you're away!
Step 3: On a computer, load up your YouTube channel and make sure you're seeing the streamed gameplay in a video. If you'd like you can make the stream private so only you and your friends can see it. Copy and paste the link into your group chat and set up a group call with the gang. Have everybody head on over to jackbox.tv on their smartphones to input the room code, then once everybody is in, start the game.
A couple of quick things to note when you're streaming. The quality of the stream will obviously be a little worse than if you were all in the same room, but as long as you can clearly hear the audio from the game and see what you need to see on the screen, you'll be fine. There can sometimes be a bit of lag especially when using such long-winded methods, but Jackbox has an option in the settings to increase timers to allow for such things, so you're not getting cut off before getting your answers down. On that point, it's probably best to get the person with the best internet to host the stream.
There's a number of things we haven't included in these steps that you can include if you want. For example, a lot of platforms offer the ability to use webcams to display the host or in-game chat options. This was written to show the basics of how to get things working, and if you decide to tinker with personalising your streams to suit your situation, more power to you.
While most gamers have become accustomed to playing with the squad over the internet in recent years, there's still few things that can rival gathering in one room and having some genuine human interactions while playing your favourite titles. In light of recent world developments, doing things like this can help us keep our sanity and sense of togetherness. Have fun out there, and stay safe.
Featured Image Credit: Jackbox