From team bonding with a virtual game jam to combating the COVID-19 pandemic by developing critical new levels, video games have taken on an even greater significance in our lives and work over the last year. This holiday season, continuing our commitment to #PlayApartTogether, we crowdsourced our team’s recommendations for games that they have been using to connect to friends and family while physical distancing:

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TABLETOP SIMULATOR AND ROLL 20

Submitted by: Curtis Schmidt, Director of Video Production; Erik Funkhouser, Senior Producer; Maggie Xing, Biomedical Solutions Specialist

If your board games have been collecting dust since March, maybe it’s time to try the digital versions. Tabletop Simulator (TTS) is a popular choice among Level Ex’ers for its endless possibilities: play popular board games, create your own, or even flip the table when you’re losing! Senior Producer Erik Funkhouser adds, “The game is built with basic interactions and physics handling, so you are moving pieces in a 3D environment, just as you would on a table. This does create some usability quirks here and there, but after a while it's easy to get used to playing.” Curtis Schmidt, Director of Video Production, lists Gloomhaven, Arkham Horror Living Card game, and Cosmic Encounter among his favorite games to play on TTS. “My biggest focus is always on story and theme first, but great game mechanics a tight second. I love board games that play through like a great choose your own adventure book,” he explains.

Biomedical Solutions Specialist Maggie Xing plays a traditional pen and paper RPG game, Earthdawn, on Roll 20. She says, “Having a great game master and a group of people with a similar sense of humor are major reasons I enjoy any tabletop role-playing games. It's like having a virtual hangout with everyone's alternative personalities.”

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“Having a great game master and a group of people with a similar sense of humor are major reasons I enjoy any tabletop role-playing games. It's like having a virtual hangout with everyone's alternative personalities.”

Maggie Xing, Biomedical Solutions Specialist

JACKBOX GAMES

Submitted by Joel Villegas, QA Analyst; Steven Eanet, Senior Marketing Specialist; Erik Funkhouser, Senior Producer

For games that even your Grandma can get in on, our team recommends Jackbox Games. Jackbox takes classic social games like charades to the next level with their fun and phone-friendly format. Whether you’re on a Zoom call or a Twitch stream, you can bring friends and family together with their Party Packs. QA Analyst Joel Villegas says this is his favorite because “your phone’s web browser is the controller, and no one has to install any other apps.” Quiplash is Senior Marketing Specialist Steven Eanet’s game of choice. “It’s a good reminder that my sister and I are in our 30s but still have the sense of humor of 7th graders,” he says.

DON’T STARVE

Submitted by Brynne Clippard, Executive Assistant to the CEO

Unlike 2020, Don't Starve is a survival challenge that we wouldn’t mind repeating. Brynne Clippard, Executive Assistant to the CEO, says, “I'm a huge fan of the game. Besides loving the Tim-Burton-esque aesthetics of the game, I thoroughly enjoy that the game is about strategy over the long-term. Yes, there are a few adrenaline-rush battles with wild dogs here and there, but the goal is essentially to collect and ration your food and supplies so that you don't run out before the land runs out of resources.” She adds, “It sounds tedious, but you blink and three hours have gone by. I've made it to 13 days (13 day-to-night-to-day cycles in the world of the game) a few times by myself, and I’m hoping that playing Don't Starve Together with my friends across the country will help us get even further in the game.”

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“I'm a huge fan of the game. Besides loving the Tim-Burton-esque aesthetics of the game, I thoroughly enjoy that the game is about strategy over the long-term.”

Brynne Clippard, Executive Assistant to the CEO

MINECRAFT

Submitted by Jason VandenBerghe, VP, Studio Creative Director; Ernesto Rodriguez, Senior Product Manager

This is a great option for imaginative gamers of all generations. VP, Studio Creative Director Jason VandenBerghe loves to play Minecraft for the “total creative freedom and joy of accomplishment” it provides. Ernesto Rodriguez, Senior Product Manager, adds, “My son and nephew play throughout the week, and I sometimes join the fun on our Xbox myself. I like the ‘pick up and play’ aspect of it so that we can join, make some building progress, and hop off at any time.”

ernesto-rodriguez

I like the ‘pick up and play’ aspect of it so that we can join, make some building progress, and hop off at any time.”

Ernesto Rodriguez, Senior Product Manager

WORDS WITH FRIENDS

Submitted by Sangita Sarkar, VP, Marketing

Don’t forget the classics! Sangita Sarkar, VP, Marketing, recommends Words With Friends. She says, “I'm a bit biased because I worked on that beloved ten year old franchise. It's such a great way to connect and reconnect with loved ones with some witty words and friendly chat rooms.”

SETTLERS OF CATAN

Submitted by Sam Dreyer, Biomedical Solutions Specialist

Biomedical Solutions Specialist Sam Dreyer recommends finding your favorite game online: “My brothers and I really enjoyed breaking out a game of Catan when we were home during the holidays over the last few years. When the pandemic hit, we quickly found the online version. It was pretty buggy and had awful UI/UX issues, but we powered through because it was so much fun to be able to steal each other's resources and block roads together again.” He continues, “They've since made a bunch of QOL improvements, and we've settled into a rhythm of playing a few games together every weekend! Does anybody have wheat they'd be willing to trade?”

JUST DANCE

Submitted by Maggie Xing, Biomedical Solutions Specialist

Socialize and work up a sweat at the same time with Just Dance. Maggie Xing, Biomedical Solutions Specialist, explains, “You can complete a dance routine together no matter where you are.” Given Maggie’s past dance training, it gets a little competitive among her crew. “My family always receives the greatest joy by watching me score lower than them,” she jokes.

CALL OF DUTY

Submitted by Todday Gaither, Assistant Production Manager; Mazen Ghamlouch, Senior Graphic Designer

Who doesn’t need to blow off a little steam these days? Assistant Production Manager, Todday Gaither, plays Call of Duty Warzone because “working with friends and strangers to complete goals is fun.” He adds, “Sometimes you build a new relationship with people you don't even know from a distance. That's a long-distance relationship and I love it.” Mazen Ghamlouch, Senior Graphic Artist, agrees: “It's all about the hang. The game brings us together, but it's the hang that keeps us all connected and having a good time with one another.”

mazen-ghamlouch

“It's all about the hang. The game brings us together, but it's the hang that keeps us all connected and having a good time with one another.”

Mazen Ghamlouch, Senior Graphic Designer

STAY SAFE, STAY HEALTHY, AND GET GAMING!

We hope these recommendations help you make happy memories with friends and family this holiday season. Here’s to an even happier and healthier 2021!

Are you ready to challenge Level Ex'ers to a round of Gloomhaven in Tabletop Simulator? Check out our open positions.

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