Fun With The Jackbox Party Pack 3
For me, the best sort of fun is that which occurs organically and spontaneously. I not a big fan of organised fun, predicated on a predetermination that “everyone will enjoy themselves” (whether they want to or not). Therefore, I’m sure that it will come as no surprise to you that I hate institutions such as Holiday Camps and bullshit like Secret Santa in the workplace. However, this is not a post about the psychology of group interactions and humour but simply a slap on the back to Jackbox Games. Specifically, I had a crash course on The Jackbox Party Pack 3 last night, courtesy of Wolfyseyes Twitch Stream. Let it suffice to say that it was immense fun and I cannot remember laughing so much in a long time. It was a good job I wasn’t on Discord. The games themselves were a creative and enjoyable platform for the fun and mirth but the real comedy gold was down to the crowd of people playing.
First off, for those unfamiliar with the concept, here’s succinct summary of The Jackbox Party Pack franchise, taken from Wikipedia. "The Jackbox Party Pack are a series of party video games developed by Jackbox Games for many different platforms on a near-annual release schedule since 2014. Each installation contains five or so games that are designed to played in large groups, including in conjunction with streaming services like Twitch.tv and provide a means for audiences to participate". Last night Wolyseyes hosted the games from his PC and streamed them. Players then joined the game via a webpage using an authorisation code. For some games joining via a tablet or phone was more practical than a computer. To play you watched the live stream and interacted via your mobile device or web browser. It’s simple and very effective means of bringing people together online as well as great fun. The technology works well.
The games themselves are very creative. Guesspionage is based around making educated guesses about questions drawnfrom data gleaned from the internet. For example, one player would have to guess what percentage of US citizens use a car wash. Once they have made a choice, the other players would have to guess whether the answer is in fact higher or lower. The questions themselves are comically trivial in nature but cunningly contrived because they’re the sort of things that once asked, you really want to know what the answer is. Trivia Murder Party is a stylised horror based trivia game. You get to answer questions and amass money but if you get a question wrong then your avatar will be killed. This game includes some very droll banter from the narrator as you play it. Furthermore, once your character is dead you still get to compete and have a chance to win in the final round. Some of the questions are a little US-centric but that’s to be expected from such products.
However, the game that proved the most fun and provoked the most mirth from the participants was Tee K.O. It’s a drawing-based game, in which you have to create several designs for T-shirts along with some pithy phrases and tagline to go with them. Once everyone has completed several of each, the players are randomly assigned a selection of images and phrases combined into completed T-shirts. These then go head to head and the players vote for which one is best. As you can expect the artwork is often bizarre and the mottos are somewhat left field. I made the school boy error of being far too ambitious with my picture, trying to quickly pen a picture of Cthulhu. Left it suffice to say it was paired with the most random of phrases. We played several rounds of Tee K.O. and I was laughing so hard at times I had tears in my eyes.
I won’t bore readers with an excess of examples that have been taken out of context. Much of the humour and banter you share with friends is purely situational and impromptu. But I will happily sing the praise of these games by Jackbox as they are a perfect conduit for bringing people together online. It was nice to spend time with a diverse group of players from around the world and make new friends. As a result of last night, I have joined a new Discord channel as well as started following some new streamers and twitter accounts. Overall it was a great evening and a welcome change to take part in gaming that isn’t based around an excess of competitiveness, shooting stuff in the face and people getting angry. I really look forward to doing it again soon.