Suggestions for games that can be interspersed with getting things done?
November 28, 2013 11:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for suggestions for games that fit well for short breaks in between getting stuff done. See inside for more info on the kind of properties that I think would be good.

I need periodic breaks from my work and personal activities. My activities usually need sustained mental concentration, in which case I need periods of mental rest or variety in between periods of concentration. Alternately there are times when what I'm trying to get done is something that requires physical activity but not much thought, in which case I need relief from boredom from time to time.

Most of the time I'm in my own space, and we needn't be concerned with what anyone else might think or how they would be impacted.

Playing games as a mental break works well up to a point, but it's hard to find games that fit this playstyle, so I'm looking for ideas. I like MMOs, but none that I know really fit well for this kind of thing.

Some criteria that seem relevant:

- The breaks could be from 5 min up to 20 min
- The game doesn't have to completed in that time, probably better if it is not in fact. But it must make sense to pick up and play sessions for that length of time, then put down again until the next break
- Should not be computationally intensive when in the background
- Should work well when it is one of many open applications, and it should be possible to easily switch back and forth between open applications. (e.g. Works well in windowed mode.)
- Should be relatively easy to find points where I stop playing and get back to work

Any suggestions for specific games or types of games to consider?
posted by philipy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I find that mobile device games are great for this because it's good to give your eyes/brain something new to look at for awhile. I like Tiny Tower because it's a simple distraction, not too engrossing and easy to put down but provides a nice mental break. I have another ios game I like called Papa Was a Thief which is a different kind of game but has many of the same qualities - not too engrossing but something new to think about for a short period of time while your brain recharges and then easy to put down.

Also, not a game, but I also recommend Workrave. It's a little app for your computer that pops up at set intervals and gives you stretches to do to avoid repetitive stress injuries.
posted by bleep at 11:48 AM on November 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Most of the better Android/mobile/Facebook games work well for this, provided you're good at getting yourself to stop. (And if they limit the number of plays til later, that regulates itself.) And, The Gemcraft game series is tower defense done particularly well.

Also, Rebuild and Rebuild 2. I played them on Armorgames, now have Rebuild 2 on my tablet - and now I see that both are available as desktop versions with a pre-order for #3. Because they're turn-based, it's easy to stop anywhere. (Yes, zombies. But challenging, not hack and slash, zombies.)

It might be beneficial to explore casual games, even if that's not the type of gamer you'd typically consider yourself. Many of the games fit your requirements, and some of them are surprisingly appealing. (My hardcore gamer guy is addicted to Bejeweled, of all things. I understood his Plants vs Zombies interest, because, well, Zombies, but discovering him playing Bejeweled (and it's associates) on his xBox still amuses the daylights out of me!)
posted by stormyteal at 11:53 AM on November 28, 2013

I used to use Nethack exactly like this. True Roguelikes in general probably work pretty well.
posted by baf at 11:57 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

What about Plants vs. Zombies? You could play just one level. Or a Tower Defense game, and just play one wave at a time.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:59 AM on November 28, 2013

Best answer: I use Spelunky like this. And I'll second the roguelike suggestion, if you think you might be into that (start with Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup).
posted by a birds at 12:07 PM on November 28, 2013

Rogue Legacy is on sale right now and I think it would be perfect for 5 to 20 minute spurts of gaming.
posted by ltisz at 12:17 PM on November 28, 2013

Cookie Clicker
posted by Wordwoman at 12:34 PM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

nthing mobile games...some favorites: (android, but ios versions may exist)
pudding monsters
jetpack joyride
pac n jump (a pac-man themed jumping game)
clay jam
frisbee (its more like a racing game/obstacle course)
...aaand even better than tiny tower:
tiny death star
posted by sexyrobot at 12:38 PM on November 28, 2013

Anno Online. The game can actually take months to play as your little colony develops slowly but there are usually a few little jobs to do during the day to make sure things are running smoothly that take 5 or ten minutes here or there and then the town pootles on until you next log in to see what they are up to It is still in beta but it's pretty good already. I probably spend a half hour a day between jobs mucking around in game. It's Free to Play and you don't have to pay any money but like most F2P games you can buy in game "jewels" to speed things along.
posted by wwax at 12:42 PM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Neopets? You have a little pet you have to feed every now and then, but they have a lot of really fun flash games. The site is geared for kids but some of the games are deceptively tricky. Uh, at least that's what I heard. From a friend. Yeah.
posted by mibo at 1:12 PM on November 28, 2013

king of dragon pass on iOS or PC
Water deep or a lot of. Other strategy games on iOS
Faster Than Light on PC
Binding of Isaac on PC
Many strategy games or rogue likes are good for pick up and play then put down
posted by andendau at 1:16 PM on November 28, 2013

Another asynchronous turn-based game I like to play between work is Outwitters. League Play is nice and challenging.
posted by debagel at 1:21 PM on November 28, 2013

I'm dabbled with many games over the years but I always end up going back to Tetris
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:48 PM on November 28, 2013

Super Hexagon might work here, just because games tend to be incredibly short: maybe 10 seconds or less if you're trying a new level, and you just keep at it for however long your break is.

Beware that it can be kind of habit-forming.
posted by doop at 1:49 PM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Civilization and other turn-based games might fit the bill. You can pick it up and put it down at any time. There area number of classic ones on that wouldn't be as resource intensive.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:50 PM on November 28, 2013

I use Nethack for exactly this sort of thing,
posted by thomas j wise at 3:00 PM on November 28, 2013

I like the logic puzzles at Conceptis.
posted by elmay at 3:28 PM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I find civilisation-building games great for this purpose. I'm partial to Settlers Online, but it's Flash-based and my job doesn't require resource-heavy apps running simultaneously.

A less resource-intensive one is Nile Online, but there's not as much to do.
posted by satoshi at 3:44 PM on November 28, 2013

I like Duolingo as my recharge task. Same level grinding, but it lets me order food like a native!
posted by gregglind at 6:20 PM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Rogue Legacy - I've found it perfect for 5 minute pomodoro breaks when studying.
posted by escapepod at 3:00 AM on November 29, 2013

Ridiculous Fishing has just come out on Android, and I've found it great for small breaks at work (plus it's pretty and a lot of fun).
posted by terretu at 3:16 AM on November 29, 2013

Chain Factor, Ring Pass Not, Bubble Spinner, Combine, and Color Zen (mobile only) are all casual games that I find myself coming back to for a quick play here and there.
posted by monkeys with typewriters at 10:25 AM on November 29, 2013

A curveball suggestion: Jamestown, a shoot-em-up. You can go through it level-by-level, and each level takes 3-5 minutes, so you can fit a few tries in your breaks. It's not intensive if you leave it at menu screens, though you may need to mute it to keep it from bothering you.
posted by brett at 6:18 PM on November 29, 2013

Response by poster: Lots of interesting suggestions! It will take a while to check them out, after which I'll give feedback on what worked best for me.

If people have other ideas, please do add them.
posted by philipy at 11:48 AM on December 1, 2013

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