So what kind of games are good for work, one might ask. When I thnik of it I am taking into account you’re not using the beefed up computer you might have at home but instead a PC with limited power, so games that are hardware intensive are left out of this list but I’ll probably have some exception as the laptop I have at work, while far from a good gaming machine, can run well some recent games like Fallout 3 (by recent I mean this gen).
Other things to take into account are how will you be able to play it, after all you are at work. I believe it for a game to be suitable for work it shoud match some criteria:
It can’t have long cutscenes, even though I like them a lot, since you are at work you never know when you are going to be needed. If anything, at least those cutscenes should be in the style of games that only the next line of dialogue advances as you press a button. At least if you have to do something out of the blue, at least the game is “paused” until you come back.
It can’t be action oriented: I love action games, especially technical ones such as Devil May Cry 3, Ninja Gaiden, Bayonetta, even though only one of those have a PC version, it would take too much of your attention and depending on the person could even have you screaming at the screen, not to mention the controls. Some games play perfectly fine on a controller just as a keyboard and mouse but not all of those, which leaves us to the next criteria.
Should be played well without a controller: Once I tried playing Rayman Origins at work. At first it seemed like a good idea, a platformer with an autosave feature each stage, infinite lives, which means you can turn it off at any time if needed but it had one single issue: controls. I found it really hard to play this game at its best using just a keyboard and unless you’re the boss I wouldn’t recommend pluging in your Xbox 360 controller, too much attention.
With that out of the way, let’s go to the list:
Plants vs Zombies
Simple yet fantastic. How can a simple tower defense where you control a group of plants against zombies that want to invade your house can be so much fun. As the levels go you gain access to better plants but have to fight your way against more aggressive zombies. For work I think this a great choice as there is no story involved, the game can be perfectly played in windowed mode without any loss and better, the game auto-pauses whenever you click something else. Surely I could recommend more tower defense games, but I have to confess that none have come close to grabbing my attention like this one.
Magic the gathering (series)
Along the years I can’t state how much money I’ve sunk into this game but these days are long gone. With that Magic the Gathering still has a soft spot in my mind and with the exception of the expensive Magic Online, there are as of today four other games (the old dual of the planeswalkers from 1999 or 98 and the new releases that are not only on PC but also XBLA and PSN). Turn based, not a requirement of sound to be nejoyed which makes it even better for work.
Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn
One of my all time favorite games ever and just recently I realized how much fun it could be to play it at work. The game auto-pauses whenever there’s a combat so there’s no need to worry about having to leave for a while. Even with its excellent music and voice acting it can be played with no sound as all the dialogue is written.
The series that made the “1 more turn” expression famous. A game that allows you to play it in many ways you want it. Be it aggressive expansion, culture, science, diplomacy, etc. The great thing about these games, they are turn based so you can take all your time thinking about your next move. I once had a day with nothing to do and I managed to beat the iPad version of Civilization! You really get into the game and once your empires grows it is a blast to play. The only sad thing, it can be so addicting that if too much work appears out of the blue you will wonder when you will be able to play your next turn.
Sim City (series)
Building your city is just like building your empire but without having to worry about people invading you all the time (except for maybe aliens). I played a ton of SimCity 2000 back in the days, and even though I found SimCity 4 a little punishing back when it was released it didn’t make me stop loving these kind of games. Every now and then I feel like trying a different city builind game and even if there aren’t so much of these as there used to be, seeing your work complete is so gratifying.
Point and Click / Visual Novel (anyone)
These games while not the favorite genre for a lot of players theses days I would consider to be argably the best category of games here to play at work. Not only for their take you time pace, but also for their genarally low resource requirements. If you need an incentive to believe me, just think of how many classics, mainstream and cult, there are like The Monkey Island Series, Full Throttle, Mist, Even 17. I would even recommend 999 on the Nintendo DS, but unless your Nintendo DS is a Lite version I think it may stand out too much.
Heroes of Might and Magic (series)
I have to admit here, I’ve never been much of a fan of this series of games but I have a lot of friends who are and I do appreciate them, even being a fan of Strategy RPGs I’ve tried again and again to dig into this series for year with no effort until I decided to give Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes for the DS (now also on PC, XBLA, PSN) a chance and boy, what an excellent game it is. So here, it can be either the older games or the new one, whatever fits your taste.
I was so happy when I heard one of my favorite PSP games would be coming to PC (and XBLA) in the form of and enhanced port. I have to admit, at first I was so reluctant to play it for some reason I don’t know, maybe the idea of saving the world in 30 seconds but when I gave it a chance I loved it at the time. Now one can ask how a Japanese RPG can be played at work? This one in particular is great as since it was made for the PSP in mind it is perfect for playing in short bursts, so even in a busy day you can take 5 minutes off and play it.
FTL: Faster than Light
I still can’t believe how fast I came to love this game. I do have an interest in space games, as Freelancer is among my favorite games ever but when I heard of FTL I have to admit to be a little skeptical. Fear not, it is good, really good in fact, it can run in pretty much any computer made this century and another game that is excellent to play in short bursts. It is so simple yet so brilliant as you travel through space commanding your ship and crew and reacting according to every situation presented.
With all of those, take into account that most of these games may have some similar siblings, so SimCity could be any city builder for that matter, so you can play whichever one you line more or how far your machine can handle. It may not run Civilization 5 that good but it will surely be able to handle Civilization 2, for example.
City Builder: Cities XL, Anno, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Theme Hospital
Civilization like: Crusader Kings II (a ton of Paradox Interactive games in fact), Total War Series (using auto battle), Endless Space.
Point and Click / Visual Novel (anyone): The Walking Dead, Back to the future, Sam and Max (series), Lone Survivor, Leisure Suit Larry, The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav, Botanicula, Deponia, Machinarium.
Turn Based: King’s Bounty, Temple of Elemental Evil, Fallout Tactics, Disciples, XCOM (one of my favorites this year).
RPGs: Dragon Age Origins (maybe), Old School RPGs considering you know/want to use emulators (they are great if you use savestate as you can pause them anytime, not lose your progress and still bring your saves home in a thumb drive).