Chances are that before March 2020, you’d never heard of Zoom, the video conferencing software. By July 2021, it’s pretty much become the generic noun for such technology. And as of today, it’s offering games.
While Zoom is hardly alone in the boost of the worldwide removal of face-to-face meetings, “Just let me Zoom you,” is far more likely to be said even if someone’s using Microsoft’s Teams or Google’s... Rooms? Meet? Hangout? (Exactly.) But until now, we’ve had to spend those interminable online conversations trying to surreptitiously play games on our phones, or in another window. Those days are over! As reported by someone called Stephen Totilo on Axios, Zoom is introducing multiplayer games for users to play as they chat.
This is part of the introduction of Zoom Apps, an App Store-like suite of add-ons designed to make the software more adaptable, primarily aimed at awful-sounding business types. (“The Dot Collector fosters more inclusive collaboration, transparency, and meaningful relationships among colleagues while empowering individuals with insights that help them to unlock their full potential.” Brrrrrrr.) But of course there are games in there, and hey, we like games!
The first bunch being added are LGN Poker, a variant on social deduction game Werewolf with the potentially lawsuit-impending name Werewolf With Friends, a version of horrible Ellen DeGeneres’ game Heads Up!, a word guessing game called Just Say The Word!, and something called Ask Away that offers—oh god—“icebreakers.”
OK, so this isn’t going to be the subtlety required to get away with goofing off while your boss is explaining the need for greater synergistic target-angles for the financial quarter moving forward, but it might make that awkward, obligatory family chat slightly less intolerable? Or perhaps if you and your friends are already meeting up for a weekly Zoom, you could throw in a bit of poker too. Not for money, obviously—even though the app will allow up to 10 players, and has a tournament mode on which you could easily set a buy-in... That would be illegal.
Presumably the 50 or so apps that are there at the launch of this new offering will be followed by so very, very many in the next few weeks. Already names like SurveyMonkey, DropBox and, er, Weight Watchers are on there. The real question is, of course, how long before it can play Doom.