How can you have fun at work and not get caught? By the looks of it, many employers believe that having fun at one's workplace is subject to legal prosecutions, so each and every person who dares to make their work less dull should be brought to custody as soon as possible – for their own good. Keeping in mind this unfriendly attitude towards fun at work, you will sooner or later join our ranks and play office video games.
Being underpaid and overworked is a permanent condition for all 'clerical and kindred workers' in the known part of the Universe. Periods of slaving away eleven hours a day trying to meet some arbitrary deadline set by your boss convert into doze-off marathons when it's literally up to you to think up work for yourself. No wonder that many office workers tend to turn to video games when they've got nothing urgent to do. Well, okay, some of them do that even when they do have something urgent at hand, but that's beside the point.
The big problem is that your boss doesn't seem to be as understanding as you might hope. Normally, if you get caught in the middle of a Call of Duty or Starcraft II round, you can expect the worst. This was the very logic behind my quest to find games that could liven up one's office routine without making them a habitué of their local employment agency. After some, erm, extensive research, I've been able to come up with 5 games matching my requirements.
1. Cost Cutter
Quarterly reports are important. They are very important. They are so important that you can spend hours writing them. With all those figures and diagrams and gigabytes worth of information, it takes some time to figure out what these blocks are all about. Which is a perfect disguise for a video game.
The goal in Cost Cutter is to match blocks of the same color before they reach the end of the chart. The task seems easier that it really is, which guarantees absolute immersion into the game. I mean the report.
By the way, if you notice your boss approaching, you can always press Spacebar to stop the game and clear the blocks from the screen. This way, you can be pretty sure your boss won't see anything criminal peeping over your shoulder.
This puzzle game is definitely more challenging than Cost Cutter. Bringing your - I hesitate to name this thing - cross to the exit can be difficult, and by saying difficult I don't mean yeah-kinda-not-that-easy-difficult but rather oh-God-who-the-hell-created-this-thing-I-want-to-look-this-man-in-the-eye. While still less headache-inducing than Momma-take-me-home-difficult games like Fez, it can save your working day and prevent a usual after-lunch brain blackout.
3. Excel Sheep
If you've always been wondering how it feels to be a project manager, this game is for you. Your only goal is to herd the schematic sheep into the Excel-styled pen. That's actually pretty similar to what a project manager does trying to make everybody get down to work. Even though the game's very primitive, it's still fun, and it will help you acquire nice reflexes in case you need to close it quicker than your boss takes a closer look at the spreadsheet on your screen.
I don't know about you, but I think this game is by far the most difficult one out of the five in this article. It's not that it's got unusually complex gameplay or an intricate plot; the real stumbling block is the intentionally botched controls. Docking you spacecraft on the landing platform without running out of fuel with these controls - oh, just thinking of it brings up the Mission Impossible theme in my head. Seriously, each time I launched Leadership, I ended up crashing my spacecraft into the first graph peak.
However, it's not really that bad. It means that in order to win you'll have to hone your skills to perfection, and that'll definitely take you not less than a couple of hours. Your working day will not be in vain.
The best game for anyone who works with texts. Your aim is to remove text from a page by using a tiny ball and a racket disguised as a scrollbar. Not very ingenious, but entertaining enough to help you while away a couple of hours at work. On the other hand, I didn't get beyond level 4, so Breakdown is not just another five-minute game.
Okay, now tell you what. These games are just great if you want to have some fun at work without getting caught. Still, it doesn't mean your boss won't be able to catch you red-handed when you're trying to beat level 5 of Breakdown. So, think twice before taking this risk. Maybe it's not worth it?