Games for engineers are an essential part of their downtime, if not they should be. Work hard and play hard is a great motto to live by. When hard-working engineers need downtime there are plenty of options out there. Whether you're into extreme violence, dystopian futures, simulators to name but a few genres. If you are looking to keep your brain active whilst you unwind, we've compiled a little list for you to consider. Games with a pinch of engineering are always incredibly enjoyable and immersive.
We have tried to compile a list out of games that their whole concept or significant parts of them are inspired by or directly involve engineering in some form or another. Some are very tenuous we agree but they offer a unique or interesting gaming experience that we are confident you won't be disappointed. We haven't included flight simulators, strategy war games (as much as we'd love to include Total War), "shoot em ups" and other action type games as they don't really apply to this list.
Here then, is our list of 15 great games for engineers. The list is not exhaustive, is in no particular order, is not a top list, and includes both standalone games and game series old and young. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section.
Tetris (Multiple Platforms)
Oh yes, a great classic game to keep your mind active. Tetris first appeared in 1984 and has had countless remakes, versions, clones, and copies since. With a deceptively simple concept, this puzzle game is about quick decision making and spatial awareness. You'll need to think quickly to fit the randomly generated blocks into place.
Delay too much and your screen will fill up with stacked blocks and it's game over time. As the game progresses the blocks begin to generate ever more rapidly as if the pressure wasn't enough already. Although not designed specifically with engineers in mind, Tetris is easy to pick up and sophisticated enough to keep you entertained. It is available on many platforms and is a great fast-paced, intuitive problem-solving game that'll give you hours of gameplay.
Play it too much and you'll be seeing Tetris stacking options in the real world, it may even help you pack your shopping bag or suitcase. Handy eh? We almost included Snake but Tetris seemed more fitting for the list.
[Image Source: Pixabay]
SimCity (PC, Mac, Linux)
Ah man, two classic heavy hitters in a row? You'd better believe it "sunshine". Aptly named, this all-time classic city planning game sees you manage and build a city to your very own specification. Reloads and copies are released fairly regularly but we prefer the original. SimCity sets the player in the seat of a city planner/mayor/construction company in charge of the very infrastructure of a virtual city. Your tasks will include laying roads, zoning areas and installing utilities from gas lines, power lines, sanitation etc.
If that wasn't enough you'll need to keep the citizens happy and provide them with public transport and recreation areas. You'll also be tasked with controlling city pollution, water supply, guard against nuclear meltdown (if you decide to build a nuclear plant) and, of course, mitigate damage from invading aliens or disasters from time to time. These additional requirements on your time certainly keep the player invested. Disasters are not all bad, they do keep employment pretty high - oh we went there.
Granted, it's a rather simplified version of real city planners mandate but it's a great way to spend your free time. SimCity has doubtlessly inspired many budding young civil engineers. The Sim series also inspired spin-offs such as Theme Hospital or SimAnt if cities aren't your thing.
[Image Source: EA]
Space Engineers (PC)
Currently, in its beta version, Space Engineers is a voxel-based sandbox game set in space (if you hadn't guessed) and also on planets. It is currently in development by Czech Republic Developer Keen Software House. It has been available on Steam since 2013 as an early access game. Even though it is still in development, the game has sold over one million units and is understandably highly anticipated.
The developers were even kind enough to release the source code in May 2015 so the already impressive fan base community can start modding.
Space Engineers will take the player on a grand tour of the galaxy and immerse them in engineering, construction, exploration and survival in space. Players will build space ships, space stations, planetary outposts of various sizes and tasks. You get to travel through space to explore planets and gather resources to survive. It looks great too.
A newbie for you to consider. INFRA sets the player into a scenario where economic woes and corruption have left a city in dire straits. You are a structural analyst who must work their way through the crumbling buildings and underground access tunnels to find and repair the failing infrastructure. Your task is essential to prevent the city from literally falling down around you.
Your tools are simple: your camera and the wits to navigate a labyrinth of debris. Get your helmet on and take care of business.
SpaceChem (PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android)
Chemical engineering your bag? You'd better check out SpaceChem. This is a puzzle-based game that tasks the player with refining raw materials into useable chemicals. You'll need to set up complex machines and interactions between materials at your disposal. Puzzles will have restrictions on them that'll require you to think outside of the box. The game's difficulty will keep you engaged for a long time.
The player takes on the role of a Reactor Engineer who works for a company called SpaceChem. SpaceChem is the leading chemical synthesizer for frontier colonies. You'll need to streamline your designs to meet quotas and survive encounters with sinister threats that plague the company.
Your chemistry knowledge will be tested but you are not completely left to your own devices. The game provides insight into the chemical compound interactions. Software engineers will certainly have an advantage when dealing with the games intricate logic.
Garry's Mod (PC, Mac, Linux)
Do you get frustrated with games that have fixed and often predictable storylines? Then this game is for you. You can't win or lose with this title, there are no objectives, aims or goals. Garry's Mod is another sandbox game that gives you tools and simply lets you play. Make your own story. You are given the freedom to manipulate ragdolls and props such as furniture, shipping containers, and bins to do as you will.
The game includes a physics gun that allows you to pick up and move props and ragdolls, rotate them and freeze them in place. You can then use a toll gun as a multi-purpose tool to perform various tasks such as sticking props together, build interactive buttons, create winches and wheels.
The game has a huge community whereby you can add mods to your main game to play around with as you will. The game also uses Source Engines mod of the Havok Physics Engine. This lets you build contraptions that obey the laws of physics to create a very real simulation of structures and experiments. Enjoy.
Elite: Dangerous (PC, Mac, XBOX)
Elite: Dangerous is a reboot of Elite games series by one of its original creators. The original Elite was released in 1984 and pioneers the vast procedurally generated environments and open-ended "sandbox" gameplay so common today. Players can fly from star system to star system, trade goods, mine asteroids or engage in space piracy all the while accumulating cash to upgrade their ship.
Elite: Dangerous successfully retains elements of the original great, with one exception. Modern players get to navigate a beautifully detailed representation of our very own Milky Way rather than an arbitrary collection of fictional stars. The game also has options for multiplayer interaction. Fancy taking a trip to the Orion Nebula? Perhaps you want to have a gander at the super-massive black hole at the middle of the Galaxy? Crack on, we can't promise it'll be a return journey, however.
Although not from the same series, and probably inspired by the Elite series, this game has also spawned some great titles in their own right. If you enjoy this game you might also be interested in Privateer 2: The Darkening. Part of the Wing Commander series, it's an older game now and needs to be run through DOS, but the gaming experience is as epic, if not dated. It includes cut scenes with early acting performances of Clive Owen and offers a similar gaming experience.
Don't Starve (Multiple platforms)
Published in 2013 by Canadian indie company Klei Entertainment, Don't Starve, is an action-adventure game with survival and rouge-like elements. You are a scientist called Wilson who finds himself in a dark, frankly horrible, world who must survive for as long as possible. You must keep your character healthy, fed and sane. Your character is pitted against a variety of surreal and supernatural foes that will attempt to kill and eat him.
Don't Starve was influenced by Minecraft and is heavily influenced by the works of the great Tim Burton. The game has received great reviews from critics if you care about that sort of thing. No one can doubt the game's original art style, immersive music score and plethora of player death scenarios. This is a nice alternative to other selection of great games on this list and is definitely worth a butcher's.
Minecraft (PC, Mac, Linux, Console, Android, iOS)
Kaboom! A modern classic to feast your eyes upon. Minecraft falls somewhere between a lego simulator and a survival simulator. You get to break stuff, collect the bits, build tools and create simple structures to survive the spooky, blocky world you live in.
Minecraft is a fantastic game for anyone really but especially for engineers. The creative mode is great for your creative side, particularly in the use of Redstone. You can use particular blocks as logic gates to make functional digital computers! Awesome! The latest Redstone computers have integrated 64-bit processors. More capable graphic engines have the ability to emulate other game systems too. Why not emulate your very own GameBoy?
Minecraft is, quite possibly, the epitome of complex gaming using very simple tools.
Fallout 4 (PC, Console)
Now we're talking another "mahoosive" gaming experience. In a post-nuclear apocalyptic alternative future, the Fallout series are one of the best-loved games of all time. The environment is filled with dark comedy, mutated wildlife and people and 1950's style buildings and vehicles. Meet super mutant, giant deadly scorpions, 50's style robots and even a boy in a fridge. The latest incarnation Fallout 4, has added a settlement building element to the violence of the main game. You can build, from scratch, whole settlements, towns and even factories.
You'll need to scour the world for materials to scrap and use to build machinery, water pumps, defense systems, barricades, conveyor belts, hoppers, power generators, switches and much much more. Become your very own tycoon in the post-apocalyptic wastelands. Although not incredibly complex there has been a recent addition of logic gates and switches that allow you to make quite sophisticated settlements. A warning, however, this game will absorb a lot of your time.
Being the latest version in the series it understandably has excellent graphics, a great storyline and immersive gameplay.
Civilization V (PC, Mac, Linux)
The Civilization series have become iconic games throughout their illustrious history and Civilization V does not disappoint. As with all its predecessors, the game sets the player as the leader of a fledgling civilization. You will lead your people from prehistoric times right through into the future. You can win the game through various victory conditions through research, exploration, diplomacy, expansion, economic growth and of course military conquest.
Unlike its predecessors, Civ 5's map is based on a hexagonal tile system instead of the squares of previous incarnations. Civ 5 also builds on the cultural influence your civilization has on neighboring city-states or cities of your enemies. Many elements of Civ4 and its expansions were removed or changed, such as religion and espionage. Combat is slightly different, also you can no longer stack units and cities are now able to defend themselves meaning you don't need to tie up powerful units in defense.
City states were also introduced in Civ 5 which are AI controlled mini civilizations which you can trade with, engage in diplomacy with or of course crush. Your civilization also expands by one hexagon at a time to let you get your hands on favorable resources over time. Other changes to bear in mind include maintenance costs for roads which means you can't spam them as much on your maps.
Factorio (PC, Mac, Linux)
Factorio throws into the role of an engineer who has been stranded on a resource-rich planet. Your goal is to build infrastructure and technology to create a rocket to get off the planet. You're not alone, however. Seemingly Luddite monsters keep sabotaging your plans from time to time, how pleasant.
This game isn't too heavy on story but it does go quite deep into factory layouts. As you'd expect resource management and research are very important but don't neglect your defenses. You'll need to keep your supply lines well organized, which can be challenging. Also be aware of not building up too much of a surplus, moving supplies around can become a headache. This game is great for stretching your organizational skills.
Monster Hunter (PlayStation and Nintendo Consoles)
OK, indulge me here. Though not specifically designed for engineers this game series is highly immersive and very very challenging. The player is thrown into a fantasy world of giant monsters set in rather beautiful and mesmerizing environments. The gameplay is very different to other games on this list but it is certainly worth trying out. You need to rely on your inbuilt hunter instincts to learn monsters' habits to defeat them.
You'll also need to keep your wits about you as you take on hunting quests to bring down or capture epic monsters in a medieval-esk prehistoric environment. Harvest your slain foes or gather, even mine, the world around you to collect materials to build weapons, tools, medicines, and armor to help you in your career as a hunter. You can choose from different specialists weapons from blades to spears to hammers to bows or become a jack of all trades.
The game has no auto-targeting, so you'll need to become adept in combat. You can also set up traps to weaken your prey. This game has a massive community and is incredibly popular in Japan. You can either hunt alone or join forces with three other players to bring down the most challenging of beasts. This game will eat your life, so be careful before starting out on your hunting career.
This is a huge game series so the following trailer covers them all, more or less, in a huge fan (me) approved comical style.
The Incredible Machine (PC)
The Incredible Machine is one of the original Rube Goldberg puzzle games. It sees the player use a variety of tools, items and simple machines to solve straightforward puzzles in complex ways.
Although it is now decades old, the gameplay has certainly stood the test of time. With its cartoonish nature and simplicity of puzzles, this game is well-suited as an introduction to engineer mindsets for children. You can get it as "abandonware" online and playable in most internet browsers through DOS emulation.
Besiege (PC, Mac, Linux)
Besiege is a great physics-based game which sees the player build medieval siege engines to crush your enemies' defenses. Lay siege to castles, decimate armies, recover materials and navigate obstacles with your machines of war. While challenges can be fairly simple to accomplish, the game's strength lies in your ability to engineer large-scale or complex assault engines for your campaign.
The ability to build a single machine that is capable of conquering all the levels is certainly a challenge. With a great thriving gaming community, new challenges are always being shared by your fellow siege engineers.
Kerbal Space Program (PC, Mac, Linux, Console)
Here's a really great game for you. It's fairly unique in the gaming world. Kerbal Space Program is a physics-based rocket simulator that tasks the player to aid a fledgling aerospace industry to reach the stars.
Although the game concept may seem simple at first, you'll need to use rocket and aircraft parts to build a flying machine to get airborne and break planet's gravity. The game is, however, surprisingly deep given the sheer number of factors players are asked to consider. These will include setting stages for flight, allocating fuel and resources not to mention taking into account the distance and speed needed to enter, break and resume orbits with various celestial bodies.
KSP has a massive following of players and even has partnerships with NASA and ULA in an effort to bring more attention to space flight. Even Elon Musk thinks the game is awesome.
There are many more games we could include on the list but as you can imagine we have to stop somewhere. We contemplated including some iconic flight simulators and strategy war games but decided to try to keep the list semi-engineering orientated. The above list is by no means a top or best of the list and is certainly not exhaustive.
What would you suggest? Which classic games have we left out that you would like to have included? Do you disagree with any of our suggestions? (We'll ignore any criticisms of Monster Hunter, it's awesome). Let's start a conversation about your picks of great games for engineers.