Games to keep in touch with friends


One of the biggest transitions in life is the moment when you finish high school and spread your wings in the big world. Many people go their separate ways as they move to different towns for college. As exciting as it is to ‘leave the nest’, it also means that it becomes harder to meet up with friends and family that have been with you for years. Even though college life is full of social opportunities, there will surely be times when you miss your old pals. And as Maaike wrote in a previous blog post, loneliness in students is actually quite high. Luckily, just because you can’t hang out anymore does not mean that friendships are over.

When I went to college, one of the main ways to stay in touch with my friends was through online video games. I was never one to directly call people, or poke them on social media to ‘just talk’. However, through a shared activity such as gaming, I stayed connected with friends all across the country. Based on the popularity of online video games, I am surely not alone in this.

There are innumerable games that offer a fun and quick social activity for friends, without traveling halfway across the country. When discussing this topic here at the GEMH lab, dozens of examples were shared in the group. The list below is a compilation of games that we think are especially engaging for friends to play together online, in alphabetical order. I have highlighted some of my personal favorites, but of course there is no accounting for taste.

Did we miss your favorite online game? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Personal favorites:

Don’t Starve. – A game aptly named for many people’s first challenge when going to college. The multiplayer variant Don’t Starve Together pits you and your friends against a harsh world, where you can choose to survive together or each go your own way. The free and easy cooperative aspect is what sells it for me. It really makes you feel like it’s you and your friends against an unfair environment.

Risk Factions. I really like board games, and this is a digitalized version of the classic Risk game with some wacky characters. One of the great things is that there it is turn-based without a time limit – meaning you have all the time in the world to talk and catch up while someone else is planning their moves.

Rocket League. This is a fast-paced soccer game with cars. It is great if you like quick and tense matches, with lots of competition. One of the great things is that it features cross-platform play, meaning you can connect your PC version of the game with a friends’ Xbox One or Nintendo Switch.

Word Feud. Another board game that has been made digital, but it deserves its own mention. Word Feud is Scrabble for your smartphone. While it is not so great for hanging out together for a prolonged time, it shines at opportunities for intermittent contact. Pick it up whenever you have the time, and put it away again if you’re busy. You basically send a poke towards the other player at your own leisure, and it has a built-in chat function if you ever feel the need to connect more deeply.

World of Warcraft. Blizzard’s online world is the one I personally played the most, but any MMORPG will do here. These games are known for their ability to keep players engaged for months, and are designed specifically to keep you in touch with other players or create new friendships along the way. There is a wide variety of activities you can do in MMORPG’s, depending on your personal taste - Go on quests together, undergo intense battles, or just chill in a town.

A special shout-out goes to any game distribution platform, such as Steam,, or console built-in options like Playstation Messages. These services incorporate a chat program that can be used to talk with anyone in your friend list. You can communicate with others even if you’re not currently playing together. Alternatively, they show when friends are online and what game they are playing. Great if you want to give a quick shout-out or join an already on-going match!

GEMH Lab recommendations:

Conan Exiles
Diablo III
Divinity: Original Sin II
Heroes of the Storm
Human Fall Flat
ibb & obb
Keep talking and nobody explodes
League of Legends
Left 4 Dead
Little Big Planet 3
Mario Kart 8
Monster Hunter World
Path of Exile
Plants vs Zombies
Player Unknown: Battleground
Portal 2
Rainbow Six: Siege


Geert Verheijen

Researcher with a focus on the social development of teens, interested in the effects of average, day-to-day video game use. enthusiastic board gamer & self-proclaimed institutional champion of Super Smash Brothers.


More updates

We'd like to hear from you,
to build a better community