Games for IT roles

Personal Article
February 20, 2021

Let’s talk about Games - I mean, Computer Games (about board games as well, but in a later post). I think that people (and especially developers) are split between 2 factions: games are bad for you vs games are good for you, however, let’s face it, in 2020-2021 - the time when any type of travel is a remote dream (at times even outside of your city / town), games are good for mental sanity no matter to what faction you belong to.

I used to play a lot when I was a teenager, starting with Sega Mega-Drive 🎮, and then discovering PC 🖥 and its wonderful games, thanks to my older brothers. I think I was pretty addicted to them - but then I slowly lost interest and shifted my focus to other things.

However in recent years I have revisited Steam and I was constantly poking around the library and keeping a close eye on some games. Eventually started buying some and expanding my library year after year.

During the pandemic - we realized that games are a good environment for team buildings 🙌 as well, and to develop some logical and management skills. Long story short - here are some of my recommendations / game suggestions for you to play, depending on your IT role 😀

Note: I mostly recommend PC games, however some of these games are available on other platforms as well.

Developers  / QA / DevOps

For people that work as Developers, DevOps and QA - I’d recommend games that are made of various systems and automation 🏭. In recent years some amazing titles were developed and they are quick to learn and slow to master.

Factorio

In this game you’ve crash-landed on a planet, and you don’t have much but a hammer and/or a pickaxe. But with time, you slowly start to mine raw materials, create factory-conveyor-belts and automate the hell out of everything.

For really geeky Developers & DevOps - the game progresses all the way to wiring systems, where you can make logical operations and have true automation: emit signals, process those, filter others, make AND / OR / Negate operations, etc.

For QA - it’s just like in real-world - factories, just like websites and other projects, as they grow, become a tangled mess - scaling-up always breaks things and there’s always a need of optimization. Understanding how to repurpose some belts, or why certain bottles stopped producing and fixing the problem - creates an amazing feeling.

Ah, the game has multiplayer and is amazing for team events as well. Here’s a Steam link.

Satisfactory

Don’t like 2D (or 2.5D) games? Satisfactory is basically co-operative (coop) Factorio but from 1st person. Of course it’s not 1:1 the same game, you get to play in 3D so this means your conveyor belts can overlap and go into many-many levels up and down.

This is the only game I recommend that I didn’t play myself - but the reviews are amazing and the developers make constant updates and announcements so it seems to be pretty good. Here’s a Steam link.

Oxygen Not Included

This is an amazing game inspired by such games as Dwarf Fortress - in a nutshell you’re in control of small colonists (called duplicants) that magically appear inside of a breathable bubble 🌬 in a meteor - your goal is to expand the colony, make it flourish, be self-sustainable, build a rocket, explore other meteorites, etc.

This game allows you to create complex systems - food chains, water drains, water supply, showers, manage hygiene, manage temperature, mine for minerals, etc. It has a very nice gas-control system, water-control system and heat (temperature) system. It’s fairly easy to start but it gets pretty complex when you want to master it. We’ve lost quite some colonies and eventually ended-up building new ones.

The game also features a full automation side, so the geeky developers can create complex automation systems (again: sensors, signals, wires, AND / OR / NOR, etc).

There’s no multiplayer - so it’s not suitable for team events. Anyway, here’s a Steam link.

Dwarf Fortress

This is the only free game on the list - it’s very geeky as it has very minimalistic graphics (or NO graphics). However this game is more of a simulation than a game, it simulates history, feelings, stories, interactions, etc. In this game you’re in charge of a bunch of Dwarves in a fantasy simulated world - they are your responsibility now - you have to build houses for them, water source, food source, trade with other cities, protect them etc.

I think this type of games are suited for DEV-oriented people as they are a bit too complex for others to onboard. You can find the official version here - it’s constantly updating - and for those that like graphics in their games, they are working on the official Steam version here - feel free to add it to Wishlist.

It’s a single-player game, if you’re interested -> this video explains a play-through (this guy has amazing stories).

Project Managers / Product Owners / HR

In my view - this group of roles have to manage coherence of their team, and make sure the team still makes the work done as efficiently as possible. So the skill sets we’re looking here for are collaboration, social interactions, building and maintaining relationships and surviving together 😁

Don’t Starve Together

In Don’t Starve Together - you have to - survive, duh. The game is very cute, will run on most hardware and is either PvP (person versus person) or Coop (cooperative). Managing a group of people in a crazy hectic environment is quite challenging - we almost always died.
The question is - for how many days can your team survive for?

You can play it alone as well, however the game shines when you play it with friends or colleagues. We did a couple of team-building events within the game and some evenings span all the way to 3 am. Here’s a Steam-link.

RimWorld

In this game, you manage (initially) 3 colonists that crash-landed on a Rimworld (a world on the edge of the colonized Universe). It has the Dune-vibe and again is inspired by the Dwarf Fortress, so it has a lot of simulations and a lot of AI-systems (even the tutorial / help system is AI-driven). In this game you have to manage different personality traits, relationships, social interactions, interactions between factions, etc - to make sure your colony survives and thrives.

If you dislike the graphics I still suggest you try it out - as the simulation gives some amazing playing experiences. This game is for single-player and it’s not suited for team-events. Here’s a Steam link.

Oxygen Not Included

I covered this game in the developers’ section above, however I believe it’s well suited for this category as well - managing a team of duplicants can be challenging, they also have their traits, needs and wants and it’s not always easy to make them live and thrive together.

Moon Hunters

A small and cute pixel-art game, RPG-style - it’s also a time-based puzzle-game. You have a timeframe (call it - a “Sprint” :D) of 4-5 in-game days. Every sprint, ends with death, and you discover a bit of the puzzle and try again. If you like deadlines, time-frames and sprints, try this one out!

It has multiplayer so it might be suitable for team events. Here’s a Steam link.

CEOs / Founders / Startuppers

Wearing many hats, managing many jobs and people at the same time, might result in playing any of the games mentioned above, but I think that this group is more interested in: strategies, planning and exploration (aka: being free to do anything you want).

Stellaris and / or Civilization V/VI

If you’re into strategies - I definitely recommend Civilization games (V is at discount and VI is the latest). If you’re more into Star Trek / The Expanse - then Stellaris is the alternative. In these games you can plot an attack, trade with others, form alliances, etc. These games have a lot of expansions - and they can get pretty deep. 

These are AAA games, so of course they have multiplayer options - but note that usually 1 game takes a long time - in CIV 6 - best case, half of a day.

Offworld Trading Company 

If you like strategies and sci-fi (you can tell that I do) - then this game might be fun for you - it’s a quick strategy game, where you have to protect your assets and buy-out the competition (you can do sabotage events, pay for riots, etc.) - usually 1 game is about 15-30 min.

Here's a Steam link.

No Man’s Sky 

In No Man’s Sky - you’re the master of your universe - of course you don’t know it yet, but once you’ll spend ~10 hours in it - you will start to see what I’m talking about. This game is more about exploration - you can play it alone or with friends, however the Universe feels truly infinite and there’s a LOT of things you can do here - be a pirate, trader, explorer, archeologist, botanist, etc. Here’s a Steam link.

If you like this element of freedom and want something more realistic, I’d recommend checking out Elite Dangerous - that’s the most realistic space game I’ve played so far, here’s a review video and Steam link.

Port Royale 3

This is an OLD game, so don’t expect much, however this is also its advantage - it will run on most laptops - in this game you’re an entrepreneur in 17th century in the Caribbeans - you can do anything you want, be a pirate, a trader, help build-up some colonies or create your own industries and housing - it’s cute and simple but very much fun.

As far as I remember - it doesn’t have any multiplayer. Here's the link.

Creatives / Designers

It’s a bit hard for me to recommend stuff for this role-group, as I’m a developer myself, but let me try and suggest some cute games that I’ve played.

Stardew Valley

It’s 2D and pixel-art - however it’s a gorgeous game, the combination of color pallets is amazing - also it’s very relaxing and simple (simple - as in “stress free”). The game is about you taking care of a semi-abandoned farm-house that your grandfather left you. Farming, meeting villagers, selling stuff, mining here and there - it’s a nice charming game. You can play it with friends and colleagues as well. Here’s a Steam link - however there’s also iOS / Android version available.

No Man’s Sky 

I’ve recommended it for the other group as well, however the game is amazing for creatives too - you can build houses, structures, explore various planets, buildings and bases - it’s somewhat intuitive when it comes to building and I think creatives will find it interesting too.

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Did you play any of these? Do you agree with my recommendations? 😊
Feel free to leave a comment! 👇

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