My wife really likes Cards Against Humanity, despite none of the cards really having the same comedic impact the 700th time they’re encountered. Although we — like many other folks — are house-bound, my wife was determined to find some way of bringing our friends together to alleviate some of the cabin-fever that’s already setting in.
Her original plan was to fire up the Switch, turn on the Jackbox Party Games, and have folks connect until I explained that the game doesn’t quite work like that: people can spectate from afar, but can’t participate. Her second thought was to broadcast the Switch through Twitch or Mixer, but we don’t have a capture device, and even with Mixer’s FTL none of the game streaming services are real-time enough for remote players to respond within a matter of seconds. Undeterred, she found a service called AirConsole.com which offered off-brand Jackbox-like games through a web-browser. The only problem is that — also like the Jackbox games — this service only works if you’re all in the same room.
At first I though maybe Discord’s screen-sharing would work, but we tried it out with my brother and it was a horrible disaster. So we re-purposed Zoom, the online business meeting platform that has been getting a lot of press during this global work-from-home situation. My wife’s company was already using it, so with her business account in hand, we fired up AirConsole in a browser, scheduled a “meeting”, and invited our friends to connect.
This worked stupidly well. The broadcast was clear enough that everyone could read what’s on the screen, and AirConsole only requires players to use their cell phones as entry devices, just like the Jackbox games do. So long as players can see the screen in real time, they can enter the game code on their phones and join in. AirConsole has a lot of multiplayer games, ranging from a Cards Against Humanity-alike to a Drawful-alike to trivia games, and even some action games that we didn’t try.
As well as AirConsole worked when combined with Zoom, I went ahead and used this as an excuse to order an Elgato HD60s, because when my wife had originally asked what we’d need to connect the Switch to Twitch I showed her the HD60s, she said we should get it (I then explained that it wouldn’t work so well, but I am mature enough to admit when I am wrong!). Unfortunately it will not be delivered until the end of this week, and I’m not even sure when or even if we’ll be hosting this party again. I think next time we’ll need to get a better set-up, maybe with a real web-cam and mic, and in a more comfortable location than the “dining-room-table-turned-home-office” that you see above.