You could sit there at your desk pretending to work all day or you could play some of your favorite old-school computer games instead.
Actually, pro tip: a lot of these sites contain old adventure games that require you to do a lot of typing. And typing sounds just like work. You’re now pretending to work by playing old-school computer games. Everyone wins! Except your company, but it’s not like you’re employee of the year anyway.
Let’s move on. Here are five sites that remind us all of simpler times.
The “GOG” in GOG.com stands for good old games, and the site delivers. With more than 700 retro titles, you’re bound to feel the warm tickle of nostalgia coursing through your now-withered veins. This site is your childhood, in web form. And now you have money.
Games generally run between $5 and $20 or so, depending upon their popularity and year of release. Everything you buy is kept in a library you can access whenever you like, and games can be easily downloaded and installed on any of your computers.
Like GOG.com, Steam’s classic games section sports a bunch of blasts from the past. Keep an eye out for sales, as they happen often: Some games can dip as low as a few bucks, while collectors editions and multi-packs can run upwards of $30 in some cases. You’ll need to download and install the Steam app in order to access your games, too, but they’ll all be there waiting for you when you’re ready to play.
The half hour I spent playing Zork while researching this piece? Not the worst half hour of my life. I forgot how hard it is to try to retain a mental map, though. That’s the challenge of text-based games where your imagination processes all the graphics. Web-Adventures.org houses just shy of 20 old-timey text-based adventure games, all playable right from within your browser.
Speaking of browser-based adventure games, if you ever got hooked on Sierra games as a kid (like I did, repeatedly), Sarien.net is a must-visit site. It’s home to seven versions of classic Sierra games (King’s Quest I to III, Police Quest, Space Quest I and II, and more), all of which are playable from within your browser. You can create save points and everything, and the kicker is that you can see other people’s characters wandering around if a bunch of you are playing the same game at the same time.
If you can’t get enough Sierra (obviously I can’t) but you wonder what some of your favorites would feel like as more modern-day reboots, you should absolutely check out AGD Interactive’s site. This game studio has painstakingly recreated the first three King’s Quest games and the second Quest for Glory game — with completely overhauled graphics, music and all-new voice tracks. They’re all free, too, which is insane.
If you’ve somehow managed to play your way through the five sites mentioned above, make sure to also check out Abandonia. The site houses almost 1,400 old-school titles, some of which are available to download if they’ve been deemed “abandoned” by their creators, and others that contain links to where you can purchase them. Even if you don’t play a single game, the site itself is a blast, with screenshots and writeups of all the old classics.
If you do decide to get your hands dirty by downloading some old titles, you’ll need to use emulation software to run them. In that case, the gold standard for most old games is DOSBox. If you’ve never used DOS, DOSBox can get a little tricky but it’s worth learning — see a good how-to here. It’s an excellent life skill to have, like knowing how to golf or being able to French-roll your jeans. I don’t have to tell you that the conversation at every dinner party invariably ends up being about DOSBox once everyone gets a few drinks in them, so you might as well know what you’re talking about.
And if you really want to do some digging, the Internet Archive has a collection of more than 5,700 classic games, many available for download or playable in-browser. It’s a lot to wade through, but there are some real gems if you’re patient.