Saturday, 19 April 2014

Four Aspie-friendly online games and one that's creepy as hell

Or you could play with these, I guess
So, you're bored.  You have some time to kill, or you're procrastinating, or you just have a free evening and would like to do something other than browsing YouTube or refreshing Facebook for the umpteenth time in case someone's posted something interesting.

Here are some options.  They're games that might keep you occupied for a few minutes or a few hours, and most involve some strategy, general knowledge or pattern matching rather than shooting at things or madly stabbing at a little yellow bird that doesn't understand how its wings work.

I tested a lot of games (it was a hard job, but someone had to do it).  I looked at how straightforward they are to play and the quality of the instructions, potential sensory annoyances like animation and sound effects, and stuck to things that are free to play, that don't bug you about sharing on social media, and that don't expect you to recruit other players.  I also stuck to casual games - nothing that things that requires registration or downloads, and no complex world-building and roleplay games that require ongoing commitment.  No doubt there are loads I've missed (points to comments box) but here, in no particular order, are some I'd recommend:


An oldie but still awesome, FreeRice is an endless quiz where the advertisers donate money to the World Food Program for every correct answer.  The default setting is vocabulary, which is great for word nerds and the hyperlexic, but click "subjects" and you'll find they offer all sorts of topics from famous paintings to maths, chemical symbols and flags of the world.


I'm rubbish at Sudoku, but then numbers and I have always had an uneasy relationship.  There are lot of options for playing Sudoku online, but this was the best of the ones I tested because the interface is simple, you can set your difficulty level and the size of your board, you can check your answers, and while there's an option to play against the clock it doesn't time you by default.


You've probably heard of this one - it's new (although based on an older game, Threes), popular and really quite addictive.  It's harder to explain how it works than it is to play it, but if you tap around with the arrow keys for a while you'll figure it out.  It's numbers-based, but more about strategy and spatial logic than maths.


This one is for geography fans.  It presents you with a Google Streetview image from some random part of the world, and you have to figure out where it is.  If you're lucky there'll be recognisable landmarks or writing on buildings to help you, but sometimes it's going to be a long stretch of dirt road with some scrubby bush on either side.  Making an educated guess (or a wild one) is as much part of the game as clicking around looking for a definite answer.

Special mention for being creepy as hell and kinda triggery:


For Gods' sake don't play Elude if you're already miserable.  It's a weird, spooky game designed to explain depression to people who don't get it, like friends and family members who tell the affected person to just cheer up and get over it already.  It does this through the medium of climbing trees in a forest while singing despondent one-note songs to passing birds.  Occasionally you might break through the leaf canopy to the elusive state of happiness, where you leap from flower to flower until you lose your footing and plummet back to earth.  Reaching out to the birds around you helps you jump higher and get closer to happiness, except then it doesn't and the ground swallows you up.  The game ends on the edge of a bottomless red-lit chasm that looks suspiciously like a portal to hell, which you might be able to escape.  Or you might not.

Having said that, it's very playable in a platformy kind of way.  It stands up to repeated playing, because there are some tricks you can learn, like getting better jump-boosters from the birds so you can climb higher more quickly.  Except when the tentacles appear, because then the birds sod off and leave you to deal with it.

I probably should have just made this a four-point list, shouldn't I?