Games disguised as Excel and Word prove a hit with office workers
Computer games disguised as Excel and Word documents which allow office workers to waste time without attracting the attention of their bosses are taking off on the web.
The suite of "hidden" games draw strong inspiration from early arcade and PC titles but are played against the backdrop of what appear to be genuine office applications.
In one game, called Leadership, the player must direct a space ship between two lines of a graph.
Another involves destroying blocks of the same colour before a wall of bar charts fills the screen, like the cult puzzle game Tetris.
A third game Breakdown is derived from the Atari classic Breakout – but with the bricks replaced by dry corporate text. Words in bold and italics must be hit twice to disappear.
The Flash games, which launch in plausibly bland pop-up windows, are available to play at the website CantYouSeeImBusy.com which was developed by four programmers in the Netherlands.
A tongue-in-cheek counter on the website estimates that the addictive games have already cost the world economy more than €4.5m in lost man hours.
A blurb on the website reads: "Let’s face it; we all want to relax every now and then, but still want to appear professional or busy.
"That’s why all the games at CantYouSeeImBusy.com are designed in a way that nobody can see that you’re gaming. In fact, your boss and colleagues will think that you’re working harder than ever before."
But not everyone is convinced. Alexandra Kitty, a commenter on the popular community blog MetaFilter where the games were discussed, wrote: "This would never work because people would actually look intense and interested in what they saw on the computer screen which would obviously give them away."