When the pulse of technology runs in your blood, it can be tough to pull away from the warm electric glow of the computer screen. While striking a balance between work and play is important, for many people who revel in the magic made possible by millions of ones and zeroes, relaxation is often found in tech games and electronic entertainment.
Those of us who were born hard-coded with a love of gaming find it a welcome escape from the nine-to-five, but what if you cringe at the thought of playing yet another Call of Duty or equally done-to-death mega-franchise hit that just launched?
The geeky fringes of the game development community have your back. Take a look at this unusual selection of ultra-cool (RE: super nerdy) tech games that are squarely aimed at scratching a special itch for programmers, tech geeks, and hardware enthusiasts alike.
Love sci-fi horror and retro computers? Does the ominous “ping” of the motion detector in the Alien films give you chills? Then this is the game for you. In Duskers, you’re a drone operator who must scavenge and explore the wreckage of a fleet of derelict spaceships to gather resources and find out what happened to their missing crews. The twist, is you pilot the drones by using an 80s-style computer terminal, watching their movements and data through the monitor. It makes for a deliciously eerie sci-fi experience that’s equal parts cool and creepy as strange encounters begin to unfold.
On the lighter end of the spectrum, Quadrilateral Cowboy’s quirky first-person hacking adventure delivers computer hardware-themed puzzle play set in a colorful cyberpunk world. Tackling espionage missions in this charming romp has you dropping down your chunky laptop at key points and actually accessing a virtual command prompt to “code” solutions in order to overcome obstacles. It’s surprisingly deep and a lot more accessible to non-coders than you might expect.
Kicking things up a notch on the nerdy scale, TS-100 blurs the lines between actual coding and gameplay. Given a corrupted computer dubbed the Tessellated Intelligence System, your job is to rewrite the blocks of damaged code segments and uncover the many intriguing secrets hidden deep within the terminal. This “open-ended programming game” even comes complete with a printable faux-photocopied manual describing how to hack the system. Yes, this is actually a game. You’re welcome.
We head back to deep space for event, a narrative sci-fi game where you’re stranded aboard an abandoned 1980s-tinged spaceship and your only pal is the system’s oddball AI. Forging a relationship with the machine requires typing conversation into terminals scattered throughout the ship. While that may not sound so thrilling in and of itself, you’re free to type anything you want, and the adaptive way the computer responds is pretty amazing.
Part of an odd and emerging niche, SHENZHEN I/O is yet another deep computing simulation experience that lets you program in-game. It’s essentially a programming sandbox where you can build and place circuits into a virtual machine, write code in an actual assembly language, and watch your creations come to life on the LED screen. Is it gaming Nirvana for extreme code geeks? Quite possibly. Enjoy!