How to use your smart speaker to host an epic games night
The best interactive games to fire up on your Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Sonos speaker systems.
Smart speakers enabled with virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Sonos have changed the way we entertain. The ability to play DJ is ideal, but if you're new to the experience, there is so much more to discover. Smart speaker systems come with a variety of games for all age groups, but it can be overwhelming to choose one that will work for your crowd. We searched reviews and tested IRL for the best interactive games that only require paper, pen and creativity (plus WiFi and a smart speaker, of course). And here's a hot tip: you can ask Alexa or Google to roll a dice for you, a lifesaver when you can't find one.
Earplay is a story-based game where players pick what will happen next, just like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of the '80s.
Voice actors and realistic sound effects make Earplay an upgrade from another popular Alexa story game, The Magic Door, (although it's rather funny to hear her monotone say things like, "Watch out behind you!" with little urgency). Codename Cygnus is an Earplay story for mature audiences that turns players into spies trying to complete a mission; The Holiday Party is a spin-off where the Cygnus spies solve a mystery at their holiday party. Pugmire is a kid-friendly story with a world run by dogs. There are several stories to choose from, with more to come.
Animal Workout is perfect if you need to occupy the five and under set. Alexa gives players 15 seconds and encourages them to act like a variety of animals from standing still ("Roar like a lion") to getting the heart rate going ("Jump like a kangaroo").
If creatures are your kids' favourite, you can also play the Animal Game, which is just like 20 Questions. Think of an animal and Alexa will ask yes or no questions like "Does it have fur?" or open-ended ones like "How many legs does it have?"
Google Home games
Remember MadLibs? The fill-in-the-blank word game gets a paper-free update using Google Home, who asks players for nouns, adjectives, names, etc., to complete a story before reading back your almost always ridiculous results. It's great for people of all ages but is especially fun after a bottle of wine.
Disney offers interactive games for all ages featuring their films and characters. Help Maui fight monsters and overcome obstacles to find Moana in a music game, test your fandom with the Star Wars Trivia Game, go on an adventure with your favourite princesses or the crew from Cars and lots more. Parents can set up an account for kids to use Google Assistant safely using the Family Link option.
The Sonos game
Sonos speakers are WiFi-enabled, meaning they can currently connect with Amazon's Alexa, turning your speaker into a virtual assistant. There are also versions for sale with the Alexa assistant built-in. New for the holiday season is The Sonos Game, a music game using prompts thought up by your guests. It's a little bit like Apples to Apples, with songs. To play, your guests will need to download the free Sonos app and connect to your Sonos network. Ask everyone to write down a prompt such as "anthem of my teenage angst" or "best girl power karaoke song." Make one person the "MC" – they blindly pick a prompt from a bowl for that round. Everyone else is a "DJ" – they need to think of a song inspired by the prompt (the more hilarious, the better) to add to the Sonos playlist queue. The MC plays a bit of each DJ's song and picks their favourite as the winner, who gets a point. Then it's the next person's turn to be MC. You can play up to as many points as you like. It's one of those games that reveals things about people you thought you know…and results in a lot of laughter.