It’s a Friday night, and Team Ready Up are playing something from the Jackbox Party Pack – Quiplash. The answers that people gave pop up on screen. I’m trying to read them out for the sake of the stream but I’m laughing so hard that my eyes are leaking, and it isn’t the first time this session.
It honestly feels like some kind of wizardry when you first play Jackbox in a room with a bunch of people. A 4-letter code appears on the screen – each of you use your own device to visit a webpage, you put the code in and then all of a sudden, your little avatars appear and then you can play. No need for loads of long-wired controllers plugged into the same device, no need for lots of pens and papers, just devices and an internet connection.
If that feels like magic, then playing the same games via Twitch feels even crazier. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting a few games of Jackbox via Twitch with a few Ready Up folk, as well as a few other Twitch viewers spread across the world. And yet, it’s always felt as if we’re in the same room, just playing on the same tv, crammed onto the same sofa.
That’s the first reason why Jackbox is my game of the decade. It has been one of those games where you can appreciate how far we’ve come technologically. You can feel that way with any kind of online multiplayer game where salty players are screaming in your ears, but with Jackbox, it’s slightly different. It feels like an upgrade from your family board game night, and not just a variation of shooting other people in the face.
The second reason why Jackbox is my game of the decade is because of the people I’ve played it with. This series is about games that have been our highlights during our time at Ready Up, and Jackbox is definitely one of those for me. What has really made it has been playing with the team, and seeing all of our sense of humour intersect and collide.
Whether it was struggling to keep a game of Quiplash clean, or in a room during a Ready Up meet crying with laughter on a sofa at the sounds that everyone chose in Earwax, whether it’s trying to figure out exactly what it was that someone drew in Drawful, or seeing the unintentionally perfect match between slogan and drawing in Tee KO, there has never been a Jackbox game that hasn’t descended into screams of laughter. But most of all, the great satisfaction has been in discovering just how clever and creative the team are, and what a shared history we have. There have been jokes that are so referential to our time together, that are callbacks to old references upon references, and yet other jokes that are so perfectly timed and clever within the moment that the laughter has come from a place of genuine admiration. We don’t get the laughs by taking the low road with a dick joke. Not all the time, anyway.
Some of our favourites in Jackbox have been Quiplash, Trivia Murder Party, Tee K.O and Bidiots. All of them have different objectives, but they have the same intention underpinning them – play against your friends, and have fun doing so. It’s co-op at its finest with absurd situations that are never too serious, but inject a sense of nonsense and fun right from the get-go that persists all the way through until the end. I love it whenever they bring out a new installment because I know that whether it’s bidding on suspicious works of art, creating t-shirts, or trying to escape a murderous mansion with friends, it’s always going to be great.
Video games bring us stories, they bring us experiences, they bring us chances to bond with our friends. Jackbox has been all of that and more. It has been a way for us all to get to know each other better and to have fun.
So as the rest of the team reflects on critically acclaimed titles, takes the opportunity to give a carefully thought-out opinion on a game’s place in the annals of history, or shares a very personal memory of a cherished experience, I will consider all of those terrible but fantastic drawings, remember the awful puns and clever wordplay, and ultimately salute the game that showed that we were Ready Up, and we played games – together.