Games to play in the background
February 23, 2011 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Looking for good games to play in the background.

I'm looking for games that fit these two criteria:

- No flashy graphics. Won't draw attention in, say, a meeting.
- No need for continued attention. Can be played in short bursts while focusing on something else.


- Heavy replay value.
- No need for an internet connection.

Any recommendations?
posted by LSK to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
What platform?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:46 AM on February 23, 2011

posted by LSK at 11:49 AM on February 23, 2011

Phone or laptop?
posted by AngerBoy at 11:49 AM on February 23, 2011

posted by Faint of Butt at 11:52 AM on February 23, 2011

Roguelikes. Something like nethack, dungeon crawl, or adom.

Text, engaging, turn based, and consistently awesome for something like thirty years now.

They'll have the added bonus of confounding anyone that does manage to look over your shoulder.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:57 AM on February 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

Taberinos. Dead simple, challenging, addictive, and it can be set down between 'shots' with zero consequences. It's basically the perfect at-work game.
posted by carsonb at 12:12 PM on February 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

I love Drop 7 for this. However, AFAIK it is only available as an app for iOS (and maybe droid?) and as a flash game on the web under the name Chain Factor. I'm not sure it's been developed for standalone PC use.
posted by Sara C. at 12:15 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are ways to download flash game files to play them offline if you want to go that route.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:19 PM on February 23, 2011

Logic games like the ones over at conceptis puzzles.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:21 PM on February 23, 2011

Desktop Dungeons is a roguelike with a slightly easier learning curve, and is better for a series of shorter games.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:31 PM on February 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

GNU Backgammon - deep intellectual stimulation, but requires less dedicated mental horsepower than Chess or Go to play a casual game.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:32 PM on February 23, 2011

Desktop Dungeons +1. It's my small burst of game of choice.
posted by The Whelk at 12:45 PM on February 23, 2011


Unless that's too flashy for you.
posted by elder18 at 1:30 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dwarf Fortress might be a good choice if you're a certain personality type (which I'm not). It goes on in realtime (I guess) but it can be easily paused. Mr. wintersweet plays it -- when I glance over, it basically looks like he's in the Matrix. Heavy replay value? To infinity, especially if you're the kind of person who likes to tweak their games.
posted by wintersweet at 2:03 PM on February 23, 2011

Seconding rogue-likes ( I suggest Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup as a good one for beginners) and Dwarf Fortress.

I would also recommend text adventures from the small but pretty active independent interactive fiction scene.
Here are a few links to start you off:

posted by Bwithh at 3:26 PM on February 23, 2011


Seems to fit most of your criteria. Here are the rules:

You start with 10 Drops in your tank.
Use them to grow blobs until they burst.
Create combos to earn more drops.
How many levels can you clear?

I find it satisfying and at times frustrating which should delivery the heavy replay values you are seeking. Plus I think if you have loaded the page you can go ahead and disconnect from the internet and continue to play. You can size the window so that only the green blobs are visible. Final caveat no mute button so you will have to mute computer.
posted by therubettes at 3:16 AM on February 24, 2011

Defcon has an Office Mode which basically consists of the simulated nuclear war which it exists to portray, in pretty-close-to-real time, sped up only a little bit. It can take 2-3 hours to play, but you can relegate it to your system tray.
posted by curuinor at 8:42 AM on February 24, 2011

I left out the Windows link, which is a pretty big omission, as Defcon is a native windows game.
posted by curuinor at 5:11 PM on February 24, 2011

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