Ian Lamont / Flickr (CC by 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

6 video games to play secretly at work

Someone has a case of the Mondays.


Amrita Khalid

Internet Culture

Published Oct 24, 2016   Updated Feb 28, 2020, 9:51 pm CST

Pulling a 9-to-5 can be taxing on your soul. 

 That’s why taking a break from the hamster wheel every now and then is necessary. In fact, it may even be more productive. Studies by the National University of Singapore found that students who were allowed to take a 10-minute break to surf the web while in the middle of a boring and repetitive task fared a lot better than students who weren’t. 

Are you stuck in a mental rut? Taking a break at work to play a game—rather than browsing Twitter or Facebook—may even help reduce stress, improve cognitive abilities, and improve your decision-making skills. Sign us up!

Here are some browser-based games you can play secretly at work: 

1) Crash Planning

Crash Planning is just one of four games designed as office applications from CantYouSeeImBusy.com. The games are simple, but pretty attractive if your office is still stuck in the dark ages of Microsoft. Crash Planning is disguised as an Excel spreadsheet. You swap colored planning blocks to make three or more combinations. There is a timer, and you get points for speed. 

 If anyone (such as your boss) comes up behind you, you can hit the spacebar. This will pause “Crash Planning” and turn it into a blank spreadsheet. Very stealth.  

2) Desktop Dungeons

Desktop Dungeons is a 2D, single-player, logic game where your objective is to kill the evil boss monster character. Not surprisingly, the game is a popular pick for play-at-work gaming. 

The game is designed to be played in quick 10-20 minute “coffee break” sessions. One Redditor said Desktop Dungeons was the best game they had found to play at work, and described it as “simple yet fun, addictive and deep.” The game emerged from the indie gaming scene in 2010 and includes a paid version you can buy via Steam, apps for iOS and Android, and a free alpha version

3) Path of Exile

Path of Exile is a free, multi-player role-playing game set in the dark fantasy world of Wraeclast, where your character is an exile. Those familiar with the Diablo series will particularly enjoy Path of Exile; the latter inherits many of Diablo’s characters. The game has no built-in currency; instead you use forums, web tools, and trade channels for buying items. 

One warning if you’re a beginner: There’s a pretty big learning curve with PoE. Be sure to read this handy guide for Path of Exile newbies by ZiggyD TV. 

4) Kittens 

Would you like to be a kitten in a catnip forest? The text-based simulation game Kittens wins points for its minimalist design that can exist in one browser. No spouts of fire or 2D graphics here to clue in the higher-ups that you’re slacking off on the clock. Kittens is set in a village of kittens. You click through buttons and follow a series of text prompts that get more and more complicated as you move further in the game. If you need help, there’s a Kittens subreddit devoted to tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions. The game’s creator even serves as one of the moderators. 


HRMAGEDDON is a combat game set in an office. Think The Office meets Game of Thrones. The free single and multi-player game is by the folks at Adult Swim. You hire a specialized team of employees and proceed to claim cubicles, take over territories, and destroy your white collar rivals. Sounds like a productive day at work to me. 

One reviewer described  HRMAGGEDON as “overall a great game to play,” noting that it was good for beginners since it was turn-based and the multiple character classes added “extra excitement.”

6) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The 30th anniversary of Douglas Adam’s epic series lead to BBC re-mastering the classic spin-off video game to a version made for your browser. The game version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy begins with a word of warning: “The game will kill you frequently. It’s a bit mean like that.”

The game hails from a time when computer graphics weren’t nearly as sophisticated as they are today. Hitchhiker’s is heavily text-based, but as quirky and wonderful as the book series. Adams teamed up with programmer Steve Meretzky to design the original Hitchhiker’s game, which became one of the best-selling video games of 1984. The 30th anniversary browser version is in HTML 5 and is just as bare as the original one from the 80s, with a few added bells and whistles here and there. 

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*First Published: Oct 24, 2016, 7:00 am CDT