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Texting doesn’t have to be a boring back-and-forth about your day—even if you love sending funny GIFs, it’s important to spice things up. And no, we don’t just mean sexting. Whether you’ve got a mind-numbing 7-hour layover or you’re just bored sitting at home, playing texting games (no, not dating games) is an entertaining way to keep up the convo between you and your texting buddy. Or sexting buddy—we don’t judge. Here are the best games to play over text with your friends, Tinder matches, or your long distance significant other.
The 16 best games to play over text
The main purpose of “Never Have I Ever” is the expose the deepest and darkest secrets you may have been hiding from the people closest to you. The game usually always becomes borderline inappropriate, but it’s a lot more fun to go all in.
How to play: To play the game, set the rules as to how you and your texting buddy will identify if the other has been in a situation or not. This is usually communicated by sending a “finger pointing up” emoji mimicking the game IRL. After the rules are set, players will take turns making statements of things they’ve never done before.
In order to dig up any dirt or find out hilarious situations, you have to be clever with your word choice, but you won’t know if the person is lying or not since you can’t see their reaction. The player who has the most contradictions from their experiences, or the one who gets to ten first, loses.
You: Never have I ever slept with my best friend.
Player: Never have I ever sent a dirty text to the wrong person.
“Would You Rather” is a ruthless game that’s destined to show everyone’s true character in the end. Not to mention it’s one of the best games to play with your crush.
How to play: The game is pretty basic, all you have to do is base a question by staging it with “would you rather…” then finishing it with something simple or bizarre. The weirder the questions get, the more your opponent’s character will be exposed so don’t hold back if you are in the mood for digging.
You: “Would you rather have toes for teeth or unruly pubes as fingernails?”
Player: “Unruly pubes as fingernails.”
3) 20 Questions
This spoken parlor game is probably already in your repertoire when you’re getting to know someone. The game uses deductive reasoning and creativity to find out what a player has in their possession, or what they are referencing to.
How to play: In the game, one person will be the “answerer” who chooses a subject (or object) and keeps it a secret. The other players have a limit of 20 questions to ask the answerer with the end goal of figuring out what they have in mind.
In turn, the answerer can only reply with “yes” or “no,” though some versions of the game will allow “maybe” as an answer. If the correct answer is guessed, the winner will be the questioner for the next round.
You: “Is it a tangible shape?”
“Storytime” is a game with a life of its own, where players can build on each other’s creative snippets to make up a story with no boundaries. But it doesn’t have to be innocent like the ones your parents used to read you.
How to play: One person will start out the story by “setting the scene”, and the two players will take turns building on the first entry. Players can set boundaries like keeping it realistic, or throw everything out the window and have fun with it. The story can only be built with one sentence entries, and it will end after the 20th text.
You: “In a galaxy far, far away there once was a little dog who was searching for an answer.”
Player: “The dog, whose name is ‘Good’, was always confused when his owner said ‘good boy’ and was determined to find who ‘boy’ was.”
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5) Truth or Dare
Everyone has played this classic at least once in their life—and if it wasn’t totally mortifying, you probably weren’t doing it right.
Whether you dare your opponent to sneak a kiss with a crush or tell two people to stay in a closet for “7 Minutes in Heaven,” Truth or Dare has a way of making you uncomfortable. But like, in a fun way. Without the pressure of playing in person, Truth or Dare over text could be even more fun.
How to play: Set boundaries with the person you are playing with so you both are on the same page and things don’t get uncomfortable. Decide who will go first, and that person will ask if the other would like to choose a “truth” or “dare.” Then that person will follow up with a question or demand, and the other has to follow through or else they lose.
You: “Truth or dare?”
You: “Go to the nearest balcony and drop an egg off of it.”
6) In Character
Have you ever wanted to be someone other than yourself for a few minutes? Playing “In Character” is your shot at texting as your favorite celebrity for a few minutes.
How to play: Both players will choose a character they would like to be and keep it a secret. Text each other saying things that that character would say, along with any quirky catch phrases they might frequently use as well. The player who can stay in character the longest wins.
You: “I feel like this year is really about, like, the year of just realizing stuff.”
Player: “Paris Hilton?”
7) I Spy
Flashback to childhood memories of long road trips and being cooped up in the house with nowhere to go. “I Spy” is a childhood game at best, but it can also test your creativity when played over text.
How to play: Text the person you’re playing with and set the rules. For instance, you’re only allowed to spy in the room you’re in, or what you see can’t be something you look up on the internet. To start the game, find something you see and text the person you’re playing with “I spy…” followed by a short description. The player will then have to guess what it is.
You: “I spy something red.”
Player: “Is it a stop sign?”
8) Marry, Kill, F***
Arguably one of the most difficult games to play, “F***, Marry, Kill” is about setting your priorities straight. The game is based on choosing which celebrities (or friends) you would rather marry, kill, or ~rendevous~ with.
If you want to take the game down a notch, “Kiss, Marry, Kill” version that turns the game from R-rated to PG.
How to play: Choose three people and text them to your friend staging it with “f***, marry, kill?” at the end. The other player will then
You: “Jon Snow, Jaime Lannister, Dickon Tarly: f*** marry, kill?”
Player: “Kiss Jaime Lannister, marry Jon Snow, kill Dickon Tarly.”
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9) Name Game
The “Name Game” is tedious and time-consuming, so if you have nothing to do this might be the perfect way to kill time. However, the game can get a little repetitive after a while.
How to play: Both players decide on a topic like names, sports, cars, etc. and the first player chooses and says a word. The other player will then say a word that starts with the last letter of the other player’s word and mimics the flow and rhythm pattern of the other player. The game can last for a really long time, so it might be helpful to set some rules like a time limit.
You: “Chrissy Chrissy mo-missy”
Player: “Mary Mary, fo-fairy”
Texting trivia is similar to game show trivia, and it could be your shining moment to show your opponent up with any obscure knowledge you’ve been keeping to yourself.
How to play: You and the other player will pick a topic. Then, take turns firing questions back and forth about that specific topic. The first person to answer 10 right (without looking up answers) wins.
You: “How many James Bond movies are there?”
11) Backward Texting
Texting backward isn’t for the lazy, which could cost you a “W” in the end.
How to play: The game is really simple, the first person will text a sentence in reverse to the opponent and the other person will try and guess what that person is saying. The conversation can carry on as long as you both can stand it.
You: “?gniog ti si woh ,edud yeH”
Player: “.tserevE tnuoM gnibmilc morf kcab tog tsuj I ,llew ytterp gniod m’I”
“Categories” is a fast-paced game that challenges players’ ability to think on their feet. The game is also common at parties where players take a drink if they answer wrong, but while playing over text, it might not be the best idea.
How to play: Decide on a topic and the first person will name something within the category. Choose a category that will give you and the other player a lot of options. Taking turns naming things within a category that doesn’t have much to it will end the game quickly.
You: “The topic is types of Dinosaurs.”
13) Guess What?
One of the more annoying games, “Guess What” might be a one-way ticket to getting blocked. However, if you and the other player are close it may be worth a few laughs.
How to play: The first person will text the other player “Guess what?” and the other player will try and guess what that person is going to say. Sometimes the game can be a bit ambiguous, but if you set guidelines or keep it refined to a specific topic it will make it easier.
You: “Guess what?”
Player: “You ate an entire pizza today?”
You: “Wow. You got it.”
14) What if?
The phrase “what if” can come as an annoyance to some, but can also insinuate something more than just friends if used in the right context. This game will test boundaries and see if the person on the receiving end is really just a “friend.”
How to play: Text a “what if” scenario and the other person what they’d do in a particular situation. It is up to you if you want to take the questions to the next level or not. There are no right or wrong answers, just be creative.
You: “What if I were to tell you I thought you were cute?”
Player: “My reaction would depend on if you’re still single.”
15) Fill in the Blanks
Finishing other people’s sentences isn’t considered socially polite, but over a texting game, it’s how you win.
How to play: Decide on a topic to start the conversation and who will go first. Text a sentence with a few words left blank, and the other person will try and guess what you are saying. Just like other games, this one can be twisted into a flirtatious battle.
You: “I want ___ to ____ my favorite ____.”
Player: “You want McDonald’s to make your favorite burger?”
You: “Not quite.”
Abbreviating words is a common theme if you are glued to social media, or if you’re just plugged into the digital world in general. This can be considered a game for those who aren’t used to talking like such, or it can just be a normal back-and-forth banter with a friend.
How to play: Text the person you are playing an unconventional abbreviation. For example, if you want to say “What are you up to tonight?” abbreviate the sentence and see if your friend can guess what you are trying to say. “WYD TN BB?”
You: “brb ily but g2g hang with oomf”
Player: “omg Ok I cu, who is oomf?”
You: “oomf aka the hottest human we know, imo lol.”
Still curious? Here’s how to start a cute conversation on Tinder, the ultimate guide to making long-distance relationships work, and how to be less socially awkward according to mental health professionals. Plus, read up on the reality of polyamory and gender dysphoria.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Kristen Hubby is a tech and lifestyle reporter. Her writing focuses on sex, pop culture, streaming entertainment, and social media, with an emphasis on major platforms like Snapchat, YouTube, and Spotify. Her work has also appeared in Austin Monthly and the Austin American-Statesman, where she covered local news and the dining scene in Austin, Texas.