study from home

10 Board Games to Play Using Video Conferencing

Current events continue to keep most of the population indoors for extended periods of time, affecting everything from studying to working to, yes, even gaming. Social distancing is keeping people from gathering together and playing their favorite board games, and while there are plenty of virtual tabletop software solutions–nothing beats playing an opponent that you can see.

However, thanks to software such as Skype and Zoom, tabletop gamers can still get together “live.” Some titles work better than others via video conferencing. Keep in mind, it helps if everyone has access to the rules and at least one player has a copy of the physical game.

The best games are ones where either information is public knowledge or, if there is secret information, it is either easily tracked or only in the hands of one player. Here are some suggestions for board and dice games that work well over video conferencing:

Qwixx (Gamewright) 

Qwixx is a thrilling, fast-paced group dice game. One player can roll the dice for the other players. The play sheet can be printed out by other players which you can find here.
A digital version of the score sheet can be found here.

Zombie/Martian Dice (Steve Jackson Games)

Zombie Dice and its sibling game Martian Dice are dice games with a supernatural twist. One player rolls the dice while the other players decide whether to push their luck or not. If anyone wants to be “more engaged” they can be the scorekeeper.

Farkle/Bupkiss (Various)

Another dice game with many variations where one player “handles” the dice while the other players decide to press their luck. You don’t even need to buy this game, you really only need any five dice – but why not support a game publisher during these hard times?

King of Tokyo (IELLO)

As with the other dice games above, in this quirky kaiju-inspired game, one player rolls the dice and moves the monsters while the other players tell them their moves. You will have to let the other players see the “market” of cards and track their energy cubes on their own, but this can be easily managed by the “lead” player.

dice board game

Space Base (AEG)

Space Base might get a little more complicated, employing a market of cards, but as long as a player can see them while tracking their own base and upgrades, this game is doable over a video conference system. A “lead” player can manage the dice rolls for the other players (or you can “roll your own” at home) Some of the game’s files (and the rules) are available as printable files at BGG.com 

Codenames (CZE) 

As long as all of the other players can see the cards, Codenames is a perfectly fine game to play using video conferencing. It might be a good idea to use chat or sending a scan of the code card to the two players that are the “choosers” for each team.

Formula D (Asmodee)

Another game that requires the “lead” player to set up the board, manipulate the pieces and roll the dice (note that the dice in Formula D have customized numbers on them, you can’t just use standard polyhedral dice) but as long as the other players can see where they are, the game moves pretty quickly. Just remember to track damage as you blow through a turn.

Santorini (Roxley)

Playing Santorini over video conferencing is like playing Chess by mail. The decisions are simple enough that one player can control the board while the other player offers moves. Or, you could each have the game set up at home and replicate moves with each other.

Pantone the Game (Cryptozoic Entertainment)

[Editor’s Note: Full disclosure: this game is designed by this article’s author, NYFA Game Design instructor Scott Rogers]

In this game perfect for video conferencing, the “lead” player makes their character before the rest of the players get their turn to guess it. The game even lends itself to being played over text and direct messaging. Ideally, each player owns their own copy (rather than pilfering paint swatches from the hardware store!)

Honorary Mentions:

These are a few other games that work well with video conferencing and even have a pretty healthy community that are already playing them that way: Chess, Yahtzee, Werewolf/Mafia, Mastermind, and Dungeon and Dragons (or any Role Playing Game)

dice board game dungeons & dragons

4 Tips To Create a Productive Study Space at Home

Everyone knows there are times when, for any number of reasons, you’ll have to study or work from your home as opposed to a communal space, office, library, or cafe. Unlike these other locations, studying from home–while convenient–poses its own issues, including distractions and creating a mood that pushes you more to relax than be productive.

With that in mind, New York Film Academy (NYFA) has put together these tips to create a productive study space in your home. Even the smallest touches can pay off dividends with your work, studies, and creative output!

productive study space

Ensure ideal lighting

One of the first things students at NYFA’s Filmmaking and Cinematography students learn is color temperature–sunlight has a bluish hue and indoor lighting typically has a warmer, orange hue. Even if you’ve never overtly noticed this, your brain subconsciously has, and studies have shown that your body responds to sunlight and can be both physically invigorating and beneficial to your mood. 

To that end, make sure you find a space that has access to natural light. Sometimes, this isn’t possible, but there are alternatives such as cool temperature bulbs and “happy lights” that you can place on your desk and keep you from getting the indoor doldrums.

Add some green

Have an empty surface or open area on your wall in your study space? Try adding a plant or two. Adding some green near your study area can make your personal space seem more serene and lively, making it perfect for staying focused. Plants may also add a bit of color and are said to improve indoor air quality, according to institutions like NASA. Having one or more plants in your study area can make for a peaceful, stress-free environment. 

Plant tip for beginners: All plants have different needs, so start out small with a low-maintenance plant like a succulent or tillandsia, then work your way up to a Chinese green, fiddle leaf fig, or a spider plant. 

Your area should be clean, and free of clutter

While messy areas can often be part of the creative process, sometimes you just need to focus and clutter can be distracting and disabling to that process.

Here are a few tips to get your creative process going by removing clutter:

  • Take what you need: When you’re grabbing things to take to your desk, kitchen table, bedroom, or any other space, make sure you only bring the essentials like your water bottle, a laptop, a notepad with your editor’s notes, and your camera to upload footage.
  • Toss & trash: If you don’t need something for that study session, move it or throw it away. Try and remove all trash from your study area before you begin so you don’t get distracted by it being there later on. After your study session, clean up your area so you don’t have to do it the next time you are about to study.
  • Create zones: Maybe your study area isn’t just one area and it involves multiple places to get things done. By organizing your projects to be done in a certain area on your desk or in your study area, you can organize and better prioritize your workload. In other words, when you mentally move, you physically move. For example: Perhaps the right side of the desk is for your computer and the left side of the desk is for handwritten notes, and maybe there is a couch nearby that is your designated space to focus on editing your projects.

Adjust the noise

Some of us love listening to music while working. Songs put us in a good mood, but it’s important to pay attention to the content we’re supposed to learn; otherwise, music can end up being counterproductive. It might be better to alter the type of music you’re listening to, trying tunes that help provide focus rather than distract from it. Try classical music, where large orchestras can produce pleasant mental effects without taking your mind off the words on a page. 

Click here for a playlist from New York Film Academy with some of our favorite classical music.

productive study space

Additionally, ambient noise, such as white noise, pink noise, etc. played in the background at a consistent level can help mask unwanted sounds. Some of these background noises can also include rainfall and waves crashing on the beach. 

Click here for a Spotify playlist that NYFA has created with some of our favorites ambient sounds.

productive study space

Alternatively, sometimes a change of music and turning up the beat can be all it takes to get you back into study mode, so click here for another Spotify playlist with some of our all-time favorite pop songs.

productive study space

**Extra Tip** – Snack healthy

Remember always to keep handy some healthy snacks and a bottle of fresh water to keep your mental and physical energy up. Try to avoid over-consuming sugar and caffeine while studying, as the resulting crash could be counterproductive. 

Here are some fantastic brain food snacks for studying:

Almonds
Dark chocolate
Air-popped popcorn
Hummus and veggies
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Nutella energy bites
Edamame
Carrots
String cheese
Roasted chickpeas