I'll be honest, the past two and a half years have not been my favorite. Some amazing things have happened for sure, but as a person who gathers much of my mental health energy from in-person events and seeing friends, the concept of a global lockdown was never one that came easy to me. Thank goodness online gaming exists, and Discord allowed me to talk with my friends in real-time and actually "hang out" with them more than I previously had, just from our separate homes. But my friends are fellow game enthusiasts, people who are usually up for joining me regardless of what game I want to play (except Splatoon 3, for some reason I can't talk anyone into playing that with me...). But what about other friends, family, and co-workers who I started to feel separated from? To stay connected with those people, I'm happy to have had Jackbox Party Pack games.
How Jackbox Party Packs "Get" People Who Don't Typically Play Games
The beauty of Jackbox Games, who just released Jackbox Party Pack 9 last month, is its user-friendly approach and the fact that all you need is one host and a smartphone or PC/Mac web browser to play. This made Jackbox Party Pack games a must-have when much of the world was shutting down in 2020.
Historically it has been a tall order to get a mom or grandmother to pick up a PS5 controller (assuming you could even get a PS5), but help them log into a room for a Jackbox game and the semi-automated nature of each installment allows for a very diverse userbase that requires minimal onboarding time.
In my own experience, this made it possible for me to stay connected and play video games with people who aren't your typical gamer -- namely the people I work with at my day job. As we all went from working in an office together to figuring out working from home, we were looking for something that we could all do together on Fridays to finish off the week. One of my friends suggested the Jackbox Party Pack, and one afternoon we decided to give it a shot.
That was over two years ago, and the Jackbox Party Pack is still in rotation for our digital Friday hangouts, with people who would otherwise never check out a game looking forward to join in for games like Fibbage and Murder Mystery Party.
How Jackbox Party Pack Made Me Feel Less Alone
Overall, this helped us feel more connected and less alone. We worked together all day, but you can only answer so many work chats from a person before you just want to hang out socially. Otherwise loneliness sets in, and we needed a way to combat that.
I'm not a psychologist and am not qualified to get into the psychology of what loneliness can do to a person, but in short, it sucks. Jackbox Games helped my group of co-workers and friends come together to enjoy a common experience, with plenty of laughs and screenshots along the way.
At PAX West in September, I got the chance to speak with Editorial Lead CJ Tuor and Creative Director/Editorial Lead Ryan DiGiorgi as I checked out the latest installment prior to our Jackbox Party Pack 9 review. I shared my experiences with them and thanked them for the work they did that has helped me continue to feel connected in even the most isolating of times. They told me that they've been hearing similar comments from players for a while now.
This helped me tap into the community they've been building: I wasn't the only one who was feeling this way. I have written extensively about the mental health benefits of video games, from conducting interviews with clinical depth psychologists to just sharing my own experiences over the years. So it's refreshing when I can see the real-life benefits experienced by others and know that I'm not the only one feeling a certain way.
My co-workers and I started out with Jackbox Party Pack 4, particularly falling in love with the ridiculousness of Quiplash as we worked to outwit each other. The ability to create custom games added endless enjoyment, often causing us to laugh way too hard at jokes that were at least four years old at that point. But that's the beauty of what Jackbox Games has created: It transcends time and generations in a way few other games have been able to (Wii Sports notwithstanding).
Jackbox Games Continues to Crush It With Jackbox Party Pack 9
Previewing Jackbox Party Pack 9 at PAX West this year was a blast and got me so excited to check out the full game when it was available. Jackbox Games had an impressive run of releasing a new Jackbox Party Pack nearly every year since they started releasing games in 2014.
Their cadence of re-releasing their most popular games in a new pack while adding brand-new games to play has helped them maintain momentum and continue to reach a wide audience. Fibbage 4 is a firm pillar of Jackbox Party Pack 9, enabling players to fill in their own answers for pieces of trivia with a word missing to try and trip up their friends, while at the same time attempting to guess the correct answer.
Nonsensory was also one of my favorites, leaning into the absolute ridiculousness of coming up with answers to questions and drawing pictures in relation to a sliding scale of where it should fit. Sound confusing? Check out Nonsensory for yourself.
The range of games included in Jackbox Party Pack 9 builds on the legacy of its former titles by making it a safe space for all gamers to join, from people who have never picked up a controller to competitive players. As we head into another winter that's sure to be riddled with covid spikes, flu cases, and who knows what else, Jackbox Games creates a warm and safe environment where I can still maintain a meaningful connection with the people I love.
And for that, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to fully repay the developers for what they've given to all of us: a chance to stay connected in even the most isolating of times.
Jackbox Party Pack 9 was played on PC with a code provided by the developer.