50 games to play at work

PC Gamer

50 games at work .game45

Playing games at work shouldn't just been seen as idling. You are exercising your mind, taking it to a mental gym. So we've compiled a list of 50 games you can play at work.

We're going to assume that you, the gaming employee, know about FreeCell, Minesweeper and Solitaire, which can be readily played in any Windows machine. We're also going to assume that you have internet access that isn't too badly filtered and limited by The Man. Many large companies will filter-out games sites, and sites such as Facebook that have embedded games, but those that don't give you a window into a world of gaming. More obscure games and game sites are often the best way to get around these filters, because they won't be a common destination for other gamers in the workplace. And please be very careful about installing games on your PC without the permission of your computer services people. Because they might give you a proper shouting at.

Remember to always have a work-related document open in the background so that you can Alt+Tab to it when the boss appears. You may also want to consider fitting one of those rearview mirrors to your monitor, too. And get into interactive fiction: there's an endless supply of great games at IFArchive.org , and playing them looks like you're just working on a text file. Cunning? It's almost as if we've done this before. If you've got more suggestions for games to play at work, register, and let us know in the comments.

50. Madness Accelerant

A hyperbolic side-scrolling shooter that lasts about 15 minutes, and never stops bombarding you with lunacy. It could hardly be simpler to play, but the effect is intense. Think Metal Slug games pushed through a cartoon sieve.

49. Monkey Lander

Monkeys, as we all know, started using spacecraft to collect fruit in the 1970s, and they've never looked back. Now you can join them, while avoiding various obstacles that threaten to stop you touching down safely.

48. The Walls are not Cheese

...But they are fuel for your weapon. As a small purple square you must kill – or be killed by – the blue squares. Blast through the scenery as you go, and hoover-up the debris. Conclusive evidence that graphics don't matter.

47. Woosh/Waker

Abstractivist versus narrativist: the game. Two puzzle/platformers in parallel, one that has a story explaining its events, and one that is entirely abstract. Yes, it's an exercise in philosophy, done via a browser game.

46. Demolition City

Destroy each building, using limited dynamite. Those ELSPA warnings about implied alcohol or partial violence in games are all very well, but this game should come with one that says “This Is Going To Keep You Fixed To The Screen Until You Beat It.” Because it will.

45. Canabalt

Games requiring a single button press for interaction might seem too simplistic to ever really be engrossing, but that's not the case with break-neck running game Canabalt. All you can do in this game is jump, but – after a few minutes of this – it's all you'll want to do.

44. Beggar

While you're toiling in the office, spend a little time thinking about those people who aren't going to get a cheque at the end of the working month. Do it while playing a side-scrolling puzzler where you have to work for your supper, goddammit.

43. 1066

One of the best and most successful of Channel 4's educational games – a turn based strategy in which Saxons, Vikings and Normans war upon each other. It even supports multiplayer games.

42. Wayfarer

A certain kind of gamer will fall in love with this. It's a surprisingly sophisticated dungeon crawler whose stickman aesthetic belies real depth. Adventure through randomly generated levels – but read the instructions!

41. Pizza City

Adult Swim's site hosts a whole bunch of games, but the stand-out masterpiece is the super-retro GTA clone, Pizza City. It's basically an open world driving game in which you must deliver pizzas. And it gives me melted-cheese flashbacks.

40. Fantastic Contraption

A beautiful little physics puzzle game. The central idea is connectivity between moving wheels or cogs, which (eventually) allow you to get the contraption to the end zone.

39. Ultimate Crab Battle

As the name suggests, this is absurdly over-the-top and amusing. You face a giant crab and a ludicrous barrage of other enemies, including a pink AT-AT/lobster hybrid.

38. Dino Run

Your enemy is nothing less than extinction. Flee the pyroclastic flow! Gather eggs to preserve your species! But mainly, run. Run a lot. Because right behind you is wall of falling space rubble and badness, and it's catching up fast.

37. Epsilon

If you've played Portal you'll be familiar with the idea of increasing momentum by falling through multiple portals,. Epsilon is the exact same idea, except with 2D balls. An ingenious puzzler.

36. Bowja the Ninja 2

An exquisite little action adventure game starring a bow-wielding ninja. Lots of things in the various environments can be interacted with, so there's a bit of point-and-click searching and experimentation to find the solution.

35. Jetpack Brontosaurus

The Blurst games are so absurd they make men cry. Following in a proud tradition of games where reptilian beasts are given jetpacks, Jetpack Brontosaurus delivers a strange puzzle game that is achingly beautiful.

34. Pandemic 2

A game where you play as the enemy of humankind is rare, and it's rarer still for that enemy to be a plague. Here you play a contagion trying to kill the maximum number of human beings. A grim lesson in timing and mutation.

33. Make Bouncy Bouncy

That sounds like a euphemism, but it's actually a marvellous 3D puzzle game in which you control a gelatinous bouncing cube. Bounce up enough platforms in succession and you hit the high score for the level, and then move on. Sadly a limited demo.

32. Breaking the Tower

Unbelievably slow-paced and consequently perfect for work (you could have a meeting, come back, and still be OK) this weird little strategy game sees you building huts across an island. Eventually the huts enable you to Break The Tower. More compelling than it sounds.

31. Warfare 1917

It's strange to find that a browser-based trench warfare game can actually have a high level of poignancy to it. A side-scrolling 2D strategy affair, Warfare 1917 effectively demonstrates the conveyor-belt horror that World War I delivered to our troops.

30. Hunted Forever

Vaguely terrifying platformer Hunted Forever will definitely keep you up at night. In it you control a tiny yet clearly athletic man who is being chased through a maze by a huge green disc eye thing. It knows you are there, and it wants you dead.

29. Guitar Geeks

Browser-based Guitar Hero without the guitar means that you can pick up your keyboard and make like a rockstar. We do not recommending doing that in an office environment, however, as you are likely to attract attention from your fellow workers. Much the way Art Ed Daniel Vincent does here in the PCG office.

28. Tactical Assassin Substratum

Sniping games are often amusing, but Tactical Assassin Substratum pushes the idea to an unusual place: you're shooting stickmen, but the scenes you see mean you have to interpret what's going on from the briefing. Can you figure out which stickman to kill?

27. Incredibots

This is one for the tinkerers and the engineers among us. It's a remarkably sophisticated physics puzzler that enables you to build and then set into motion a huge variety of complex vehicles. You'll lose days to Incredibots if you're not careful.

26. QWOP

There's something deeply tragic about QWOP. It's a demented button bashing athletics game, where buttons control individual muscles. The result is a game in which the music from Chariots of Fire plays as you thrash helplessly on the starting line.

25. Pongout

You've played Pong, and you've played Breakout, but when have you ever had a chance to play both at the same time? PongOut does just that, your mouse movement controlling batons for both games at once.

24. Oiligarchy

You might try to avoid office politics, but there's no reason to avoid politics in the office. In this browser game you're on the side of the oil industry, drilling, bribing politicians and stifling alternative energy sources. Go!

23. The Manipulator

An essential inclusion simply because this mind-control platformer is an absolute classic remix of Paradroid. This game requires the YoYo Games plugin for Firefox .

22. Top Spinner Cricket

The most English of sports is a bit complicated to play when you're supposed to be working. Thank goodness for this then, which enables you to play a wacky game of ragdoll batting on your desktop instead.

21. I Fell in Love with the Majesty of Colours

A fascinating, dream-like adventure puzzle game. The decisions you make will determine what ending you see. Oh, and you're a sea-monster.

20. The Space Game

Some titles sure tell you what to expect, but this one might actually be misleading. This a brilliant puzzle-strategy game, where you have to build an energy grid through a field of asteroids. Mine them all to win.

19. Mastermind

Similar to evil-HQ management game Evil Genius, only you can play it for free on your web browser, and it's all about perpetrating acts of grand villainy. Incredibly slick, very entertaining. Amazing stuff.

18. Sagario's Room Escape

There is a type of point-and-click game called 'Room Escape' and this particular instance is lauded as both very tricky, and very clever. Finding out what to do is part of the fun.

17. Blush

You'll need the Unity plugin for this one, but once that's sorted you're away into a neon world of jellyfish. Collect eggs and take them to collection points to grow your tentacles longer, and use them to kill lesser gelatinous beings.

16. Effing Hail

Hail is formed by tiny ice particles borne aloft by strong winds, so forming large ice particles that eventually fall down as chunks of ice and break stuff. This is the principle of the game, too. In short: smash up cities with weather!

15. Scarygirl

Almost nothing in the world is as beautiful as the hand-drawn levels of ScaryGirl. Sure, the game itself isn't exactly inspired – it's a straight platform adventure – but if you can find a more visually attractive browser game I'll eat my cat. Hat.

14. Space Quest I

Sarien have lobbed a load of the old point-and-click adventures from the Sierra era online, creating a spectacularly large amount of classic adventure gaming for you to grind your way through at work. We've picked on Spacequest because we like quests. And space.

13. Crush the Castle

Of all the medieval siege weapons, the trebuchet is clearly the most elegant. Games created for trebuchets can be equally perfect in their deployment of Newtonian physics. Destroy fortifications with a balletic grace.

12. Bunni

Bunni is a deeply strange and spooky island management game with sad-eyed rabbits. Take advice from the spirits of dead bunnies and solve the mystery of the island via a ludicrously slick real-time strategy interface. Exploration, building, weirdness. Bunnies.

11. Plants Versus Zombies

You no longer even have to purchase PopCap's garden-defence classic to enjoy a spot of undeath, as there's a stripped-down version available on their website. If we're entirely honest we feel it would be rude not to play it at work.

The top ten

These games might require some installation, but they're awesome for skipping back to the desktop to avoid the all-seeing eye of middle management.

10. Spaced Penguin

Arguably one of the all-time classic browser puzzle games, Spaced Penguin sees you trying to slingshot a penguin around the gravity of various planets to get him back to his spaceship. Compelling, and wonderful when it finally clicks.

9. Puzzlebloom

This also requires the Unity plugin for your browser. Assuming you've got that safely installed then PuzzleBloom is one of the most beautiful 3D puzzles based on parasitic mind control that you're ever likely to play.

8. Kickabout League

Fierce soccer types might not like bending the rules (no throw in), but this multiplayer footie game is still a magnificent achievement. You might experience some lag issues, but that's a small price to pay.

7. Little Wheel

This little robo-adventure is one of the best things online. It's only about 20 minutes long, but that's like saying that Portal is “only a couple of hours”. Shortness that encapsulates such sweetness is rare indeed.

6. Desktop Tower Defense

Foes are coming! Place armed towers to thwart them! Arguably the most significant tower defence game of all time, this will even help you feel like you're still working, due to it being set on a, er, desktop. Brilliant sandbox mode, perfect missions. It's a micro-masterpiece.

5. Doom

Every computer in existence is required to have Doom installed to test its capabilities. It's your duty to make sure the PC you use at work is not a Doom virgin. There's even a browser version if you can't get it on the hard drive.

4. Minecraft

Multiplayer building might seem an unusual genre to sit at the top of a game list, but Minecraft's gentle pace and browser interface mean you can take your time to plant a few bricks, jump back to work when the boss enters the room, then back again.

3. Travian

Astonishingly popular strategy MMO Travian has made its reputation largely by keeping the office-bound entertained. With a neat village-building mechanic and the opportunity to enter a large clan game, it's got just enough depth.

2. Defcon

Perfectly-paced for gaming in the office, a slow bout of thermonuclear war is all any office drone needs to cheer up. Introversion's multiplayer wargame even comes with a 'boss mode', allowing you to hit a key and appear to be doing your work.

1. Laser Squad Nemesis

For the PC gamer there can be no better game to play at work than Laser Squad Nemesis. Following an unusual play-by-email format, this brilliant isometric strategy game allows you to take your time and play when you are ready to make your move.

Jim Rossignol

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