By Amber Wessling
One of my favorite memories growing up was our family (including our Spanish exchange student) gathered around the dinner table during a cold, North Dakota winter playing Trivial Pursuit. As the youngest, I lost almost incessantly. But, I also learned valuable skills, like how to manipulate my siblings, show no mercy to those weaker than me, and conquer mnemonic devices to rapidly improve my memory. More than that, I valued those evenings brimming over with quality time, conversations, laughter, and the occasional fight. Even now, decades later, when our family gets together, you can count on at least one game night filled with loud voices, a bit of shouting, and conversation gracing my parent’s dining room.
When you search the phrase “benefits of family game nights,” Google will regale you with article after article about the mental, social, and emotional benefits of a family game night tradition. Especially now, with technology creating more division than inroads, the routine of a family game night provides my family with quality interactions that create lasting memories and bonds.
Looking to start or restart a family game night tradition of your own? Here is a list of 35+ popular, fun, and engaging screen free games, perfect for teens, tweens, and your entire family.
Fun Games for Tweens and Up
1. Abandon All Artichokes
This fun card game comes with simple rules and a clear goal: abandon all the artichokes.
A great introduction to kingdom building for younger tweens, the game includes baby dragons, seeking hidden eggs, and exploring a mysterious island.
3. Ticket to Ride (various versions)
Incredibly popular, this game now comes in several versions. This board game is a cross-country train adventure where the players collect cards of different types of train cars to claim railway routes connecting cities in various countries around the world.
4. The Crew: Quest for Planet Nine
Players: 2-5 Players
This premise of this game is perfect for your space-minded teens and tweens. Scientists say there is a mysterious ninth planet located at the edge of our solar system. Embark on this exciting space adventure to find out if they are right. Most games last between 30-60 minutes.
The drawing party game based on verbal descriptions takes a new turn when the drawings include wild and wacky monsters. Draw the most accurate version of the monster to win!
6. Exploding Kittens
This quote from CNN says it all: “It’s like UNO, except there are goats, magical enchiladas, and a kitten that can kill you.” Simple to learn and easy to play, this card game for teens will be a favorite for all ages.
7. Throw, Throw Burrito
From the makers of Exploding Kittens comes a dodgeball card game. Yes, you read that correctly. The goal is to collect matching sets of cards while simultaneously ducking, dodging, and throwing squishy airborne burritos.
8. Disney Villainous
Easy to learn, and with clear instructions, this Toy of the Year Award winner will appeal to Disney-loving families. In this asymmetrical board game, players choose from one of six villains, each with their own sinister objectives.
9. Say Anything
A perfect get-to-know-you party game, Say Anything allows you and your friends to say what they think!
This award-winning game is miscommunication at its best. As a modified version of the telephone game, Telestrations asks you to draw a secret word, then pass the drawing along to the next player who guesses the word, draws their own version, then passes it along to the next player until it circles back to you for the big reveal.
11. Blank Slate
Easy to learn and quick to play, all you need to do is grab a slate, write a word, and try to make a match!
This strategy game aims to create a dinosaur park that will attract the most people. To create one, you bring in dinosaur “meeples,” place them in pens, and make sure they are secure.
Family Games for Teens
This award-winning strategy game asks you to build your own quilt to win. Easy to learn, easy to play, but not as easy to win as you try to master the patterns to make the coziest quilt possible.
14. Search for Planet X
Similar to The Crew, each player in this game becomes an astronomer, using notes to record their observations and scientific deductions while searching for Planet X.
15. My City
My City is a competitive legacy game where you develop a city on your own playing board. The game consists of 24 episodes, beginning with the development of a city through industrialization. A unique twist? Players’ choices and actions made during one session of gameplay carry over into the next session, creating a personalized gaming experience.
This deck-building game is not overly complicated, and it’s perfect for 4 players. With multiple decks of cards, and using different cards each time, you can play this game over and over.
17. The Chameleon
Easy to learn and quick to play, this is a sneaky family board game of relational deductions. In this game, everyone knows a secret word… except the chameleon. Use hidden codes, finger-pointing, and secret messages to smoke the chameleon out before they blend in and disappear.
18. Escape Room: The Game
The fun and thrill of an escape room–all in your own home! Similar to the popular rooms, you have 60 minutes to work as a team and escape using clues to solve the mystery.
This cooperative strategy game asks your team to come together to save humanity and stop a pandemic from spreading across the globe.
20. Domination: Road to Civilization
In this domino-based civilization-building game, players take on the role of a primitive tribe seeking to grow into a nation whose influence dominates all others.
21. The Settlers of Catan
Wildly popular, this classic civilization-building board game requires chance, skill, and strategy. It’s played on a distinct hexagonal board and it’s perfect for all players 10 and up!
22. Cards Against Humanity/Relative Insanity
More appropriate for teens than tweens, this best-selling game is advertised as “a party game for horrible people.” The game comes with 500 fill-in-the-blank cards matched with a similar set of smaller cards. You can purchase extension packs for even more fun and hilarity.
23. Unstable Unicorns
According to the creators, “Unstable Unicorns is a strategic card game that will destroy your friendships… but in a good way.” This game was one of Kickstarter’s most-backed projects of all time and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award for Toy of the Year.
24. Monopoly Fortnite
The extremely popular Fortnite video game inspired this version of the classic game Monopoly. This version is less about what you own, and more about whether or not you survive.
25. Pick Your Poison
Similar to Say Anything, Pick Your Poison offers players a chance to get to know one another through the classic “Would You Rather” series of questions.
26. What Do You Meme?
More appropriate for older children, this game asks players to outwit their opponents by creating the best memes.
27. Loaded Questions
From the creators: “What happens when you combine hundreds of fun, creative questions with personal answers, simple rules, and hilarious gameplay? Start playing Loaded Questions and find out!”
28. Code Names
Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Teammates know the agents only by their codenames. To win the game, each team needs to contact all their agents in the field before the other team contacts theirs. Added twist: one interaction with the assassin and you’re out!
Winner of Board Game of the Year, Quelf is a great party game with simple instructions: just read each card aloud and follow the directions!
A fun bluffing game for the whole family, Coup is easy to set up, easy to understand, and the entire game lasts 15 minutes. The game is set in a dystopian universe, and a resistance of people sets chaos in motion. Your objective, as the head of the family, is to outwit those around you and be the last person standing.
31. Box of Lies
Players: 1 or More
Challenge your family and friends to this hilarious game of bluffing and lying, based on the beloved Jimmy Fallon Tonight Show segment. This game is sure to become a family favorite.
Classic Games for the Whole Family
The GOAT of drawing games, this classic keeps it simple. Pick a card with a clue, draw a picture of that clue, if your teammate is the first to guess what you drew, you win!
Players: Up to 6
Full of intrigue, strategy, and mystery, this game was (and is) so popular it became a movie! With six suspects and one murder, the goal of the game is to discover the who, what, and where of the crime before your fellow opponents do.
34. Apples to Apples
As easy as comparing apples to apples, this classic award-winning card game for families is simple to learn and fun to play. Choose a card from your hand that best describes the card selected by the judge.
A great game for families with younger kids, this simple classic is easy to learn and easy to play. Each player or team tries to score the required number of five-card sequences before their opponent.
A classic word-guessing party game, the objective is for the players to guess the word on the player’s card without using the five “taboo” words.
The original war game, this board game requires strategy, diplomacy, and more than a little conflict. The original game breaks the board into forty-two territories and six continents, and the goal of the game is to occupy every territory on the board. Be warned: this game can last days.