I've always been a bit of a board game geek, and when I used to live in Oxford I used to love meeting with friends at Thirsty Meeples, a board game cafe.
But since I moved down to the coast, where I don't know that many people, I'd stopped playing board games, and focused more on playing solo computer games on my xbox.
However pandemic living has really driven home the need for human contact, and early on a group of friends and I got together every week or two to play actual board games remotely, with a Zoom call for chat.
Turns out there are two main avenues one can take:
Board Game Arena - a purpose-built gaming platform playable via your web browser, with a wide selection of licensed games. Some games are free, some need a small annual membership, but only one person with a membership is required to play a game.
Tabletop Simulator - more setup required - a program simulating sitting around a table. Many people and games publishers have made electronic versions of their games, which are playable through this, installed via Steam.
While it will never replace the experience of sitting around a table face-to-face. the benefits of this are obvious - easier to get disparate people together. We regularly play with people spread across the USA, the Netherlands, and various parts of the UK.
I've now seen more of my friends during lockdown over the last year gaming, than I had for the previous 10 years.
It's a joyful moment of human connection in what is a pretty dire moment in time, and I greatly look forward to it every few weeks.