Working in the office can be dreary sometimes. That's where toilet gaming comes to the rescue.
The potential and power of mobile gaming has always intrigued me. But for a long time I always viewed it in an incredibly narrow prism, an activity that on the work commute, when you were stuck with nothing to do or when you were on a long flight.
It took my former team leader to open my eyes — figuratively — to the joys of gaming on the loo. For him, a man with a stressful job, awful hours and a young family, the toilet was his one uninterrupted opportunity for entertainment. It was the one time he could be left in peace and quiet.
Nobody was going to disturb their father, their husband while they were mid-poop. So why would they notice if he took a few extra minutes than normal?
It was this logic that led me to realise the supreme potential smartphones have for making your office life a little bit easier — thanks to extended toilet breaks by the joy of video games.
Obviously not all mobile games are toilet appropriate. They can't require too much time on the loo, lest you become comfortable. They also shouldn't require any sound, since you don't want to let your colleagues know how much you're slacking off. And ideally they shouldn't require too much thought, since you're already pre-occupied.
So with that, here are six of the best games to play while you're doing the business. They're not the only games available, but they are tried and tested — so to speak.
Wordament (Free, Microsoft Studios, Android/iOS/Windows Phone)
Wordament is Boggle on speed. Much like the Bejeweled Blitz frenzy that hit Facebook a few years ago, Wordament takes cross-play, achievements, leaderboards and combines it into an addictive two minute package.
There are a few alternatives to Wordament, but I always found their dictionaries to be a little loose with what qualified as a "real" word. It also helps that Wordament has the cleanest UI of the games I played, with the blue and yellow tileset pleasant and relaxing to look at.
The only downside is that it's a multiplayer game that requires a constant internet connection. Not every toilet has that luxury, although that probably explains why the disabled toilet at my former office was so unusually popular.
It was in range of the work Wi-Fi.
The immediate downside here is that you have to actually be a fan of the sport to enjoy Stick Cricket. Once you get past that stumbling block though, Stick Cricket is actually perfectly designed for sneaking a few extra minutes away from the boss.
It's a game that can be played with one hand, allowing for optimal multi-toilet-tasking if necessary. The gameplay is purely reactionary — watch the ball and press right or left. You also don't require an internet connection, which is great if your toilet happens to be lined with lead or inconveniently located.
Another mark against Stick Cricket is also the level of microtransactions, although none of the purchases are strictly necessary. If it's a problem, however, you might want to also check out SUPER CRICKET 2 on Android, another locally-developed title that offers similarly simple gameplay and — crucially — the ability to save mid-innings.
I'm talking about the remake of Death Rally, not the original that Remedy released on PC before they became known for Alan Wake and the Max Payne series. It's a combat racer that's free-to-play with in-game microtransactions — like the other two — but I never had or felt any need to purchase a single item beyond what I earned through gameplay.
It runs pretty smoothly on older devices and doesn't need an internet connection. The cars handle incredibly well and the guns are pretty satisfying to use. There is a decent amount of variety in the tracks as well, although you will end up replaying a few as you go through the different modes, boss battles and mirror tracks.
If you're after something that has no microtransactions at all and is more focused on the traditional idea of racing, Reckless Racing 2 is a solid alternative. It costs $2.18 on the Google Play store and has a more logical progression model that I found a little more satisfying than Reckless Racing 3's.
We featured 10 Million a few years ago and it still stands tall as one of the best toilet time wasters imaginable. There's no internet connection required. The game can be played with one hand. It's a twist on a match-three game, with some light RPG elements and enough replayability for a couple of weeks' of extended breaks.
Each run through the dungeon takes anywhere from 20 or 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, allowing you to fit in a nice chunk of dungeon crawling before returning to the monotony of your working life. It's just the right amount that lets you get enough progression in without having to feel like your pooping time is becoming inconspicuous.
Not everyone wants a quick and dirty gaming experience, however. Some people want something they can enjoy for weeks, months on end. Sometimes you want something more meaningful, the glue between your working day that has enough substance to be there with you on the train ride home, and the commute in the morning.
Out There pretty much fits the bill. It's a slightly simpler take on Faster Than Light where you're a single astronaut tasked with making your way across the galaxy.
It's a contemplative game, so there's no need for two hands or fast reactions. The game always remembered my last position whenever I turned off the phone and re-opened the application, so concerns about saving is unwarranted.
There's four separate endings, plenty of ships to upgrade and plunder, a variety of randomised encounters and an art style perfectly suited for the time-wasting occasion. Two thumbs and one astronaut way up.
If you have a choice of mobile ecosystems I strongly prefer the upfront model on Android, where one purchase unlocks all teams. However, it's worth noting that despite the many, many hours (and breaks) I sank into NBA JAM on mobile, I didn't play the vast majority of teams.
Do you, for instance, really want to play as the 76ers? Or the Orlando Magic? Or the Denver Nuggets? Probably not. Sure, there are plenty of masochists out there — but for everyone else, the iOS version will inevitably be a far cheaper way to experience NBA JAM.
You'll need both hands to enjoy the experience but the ability to save at any point and having two or three minute halves is perfect for getting the absolute most out of your late lunch break. It also ran quite well on my older Samsung Galaxy S3, which is a plus for those who don't upgrade their phones frequently.