Jackbox teaches anyone what games were really about
By Louis Park
The chips and pretzels are out, pizza is warm and ready, and yet everybody is on their phones. It’s the perfect time to get the room to socialize, while still on their phones, all through “The Jackbox Party Pack” games.
“The Jackbox Party Pack” games are a series of casual games that let the humorous creativity of friends (or family if you’re brave) to shine. Each “Party Pack” consists of five different and unique party games of different gameplay genres. These games are incredibly engaging for those of any age and allow friend groups to use or even invent new inside jokes – and maybe overuse some to death.
What makes Jackbox games so easy to play is how they reinvented game controllers onto the phone. Only one person needs to own the game, and they show the screen to the rest of the players. To join, players simply have to go to a website on a phone or laptop, meaning no downloading is involved.
They join the game by entering a code that is shown on the screen, and play the game by inputting responses through their personal device. This easy process of controlling your own game through your own device and watching the game happen through the big screen may remind some of the classroom classic “Kahoot!”. Most games support 1-8 players, and another 10,000 in the audience for voting.
The logistics of the game also makes it a perfect game for long distance separation, including online friends and quarantine. Owners of the game can stream their game through services, most notably Discord, Google Hangouts, or Zoom. Through this, friends can join in from across the world.
The games themselves take on many different styles of games as trivia, answering prompts, drawing, and social deception. Games such as “Trivia Murder Party” and “Fibbage” may appeal to those into trivia. “Civic Doodle” and “Tee K.O”. are perfect for people with an artistic imagination. The games that seem to be the most universally liked are the prompt answering games such as “Survive the Internet” and “Quiplash”.
Part of the fun of new Jackbox games is trying each one out and finding out what the group’s favorites are, the fun-for-a-bit ones, and the objectively bad games. The mixed bag of games means different friends with different skills and senses of humor will enjoy some games over others; but, in the end, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
One of the charms of the games is how winning the games is a direction to go towards, but the focus is having a good laugh during the experience. The majority of the games utilize a points system driven by players voting on what they believe are the funniest responses. Oftentimes, ties are broken by pure luck as the game chooses a random winner. This is a good reminder for players that they are playing a casual game, where the main goal should be to have fun, not to win.
One of the games that can offer the best experiences is “Mad Verse City.” The game is about filling in blanks to create lines, typically rhymes, for robots to rap. First, players are given a prompt to give a word, such as a food noun or verb ending in “-ing.” This is added onto a computer generated line. Then, the player makes their own full line.
“Mad Verse City” well represents the best fun that can come out of a Jackbox game. The game involves filling in responses with your phone in order to see silly humor or impressive roasts, depending on the players. The boundaries of a computer generated first line, and the context of rapping prevents the game from devolving into a boring “just-say-something-funny” scenario. However, the freedom of being able to write every other line gives opportunities for creative thinking to make everyone laugh. This perfect balance between guideline and creativity is what makes the game so replayable.
Not only is the gameplay well-made, but the themes applied to each game are brilliant and unique. “Mad Verse City” has a robot theme that further strengthens the level of humor the game offers. When raps are being presented to players, they are vocalized through an amusing text-to-speech voice. This, along with the cliché hip hop theme, makes revealing the creative work of the players quite comical.
Like “Mad Verse City,” the majority of Jackbox games are able to deliver exciting entertainment in a similar fashion. Players are generally able to express comedy through their creativity by fulfilling some sort of prompt. The games are accompanied with witty themes and exciting sounds that makes playing these games much more engaging.
For players, some games will not be seen as fun and will just seem to fall flat. When trying these out, each “joke” will just be followed up by the game’s forced attempts to be funny. All these games do are create an aura of awkwardness and silence amongst the players.
However, this is simply the inevitable result of choice. Having a wide selection of games covering different types of games ensures that there are games that any player will enjoy. Some people just have creativity or humor stronger in certain areas over others. Not everybody loves the same things, and this will apply to Jackbox games as well as it does to anything else. The favorable gems in each pack will easily outweigh the forgettable games.
In the end, “The Jackbox Party Pack” games are a load of fun to play with other people. The games are able to break off from the traditional “PC/console” and “playing to win” mindsets. This, along with the diverse variety of games, allows any group of people to play with ease and comfort. Despite the casual level of gameplay, the games are set up with an effective balance of instruction and freedom in order to maximize the produced humor. Grabbing a copy of a few “Jackbox Party Pack” games will offer endless hours of lighthearted fun for parties and friends.