Looking back at the games I played growing up, it should probably have been clear that I was going to end up being an engineer. Sure, I played Super Mario Brothers, Metroid and Zelda like everyone else, but it was those games that required a little more than pressing A or B at the right time that stuck with me. Before we get into it, shout out to Sticky Bear Math and Oregon Trail. You weren’t all that educational, but at least I know that everyone dies of dysentery.
I’d rather call this one Dr. Mario, but I suppose the extra shapes in Tetris put it a step ahead. What other game combined speed and problem solving under high pressure (remember that music?!) situations better than this? Thinking on your feet while your boss dumps a bunch of parts that don’t seem to go together on your desk is basically what all engineers do before they become managers and then do the dumping, so Tetris should really come installed on all of our PCs.
9. Monument Valley
A newer release for this list, Monument Valley is a great puzzle solver in 3-dimensional space. You need constructive thinking and creativity to come up with the solution, not to mention patience to not give up. Patience, of course, being the most important of the skills that I am yet to learn. And good timing, Monument Valley just released a sequel!
8. EVE Online
Good news, it is now free! This is your one stop shop optimizing your workforce, understanding supply and demand, learning to work well with others and conquer the galaxy. Really, though, this is just a numbers game. In fact, if you get really good at these numbers, you can find a way to mine up enough cyber resources to me a little actual money on the side. Not that I know anything about that…
The number of hours I’ve spent playing Minecraft is embarrassing. Not like, laugh it off embarrassing. Like, I won’t even tell you the number embarrassing. At least the average 10-year-old is still probably better than me at it. That being said, they are gaining some valuable skills! Basic chemistry, material properties, circuitry with red powder, acceleration and velocity of mine carts, and gravity. Wait, not gravity… but the rest still holds true.
I own no less than 4 versions of Civilization, and purchased 1 of those less than a year ago. That’s like a 25-year span of me playing basically the same game. Not only do you learn about history (which isn’t necessarily all that important for an engineer), but you learn about inventing, how inventions came about over time, and diplomacy. Next to patience, diplomacy is probably the next most important skill for an engineer entering the corporate world, and that is a tough one to learn through a text book.
Puzzle solving at its finest. Shoot one wall, end up in another place, escape. Repeat. I hate this stupid game, but that is probably because I spend all day problem solving, so this just seems like more work to me. If you want to test someone for an engineering gig though, give them one of the final levels of Portal and see how quickly they come up with a solution. Best time gets the job.
4. Sim City
There is so much to learn from SimCity. Even a giant company like EA is learned from it as not understanding how the internet, servers and popular online games work pretty much made the launch of SimCity 4 a complete bust. Oh, sorry, back to engineering. City planning, transportation, tunneling, bridge designs, traffic patterns, pollution, commerce and budget are just a few things that engineers can benefit from. Throw in the occasional alien attack and you can’t beat this learning experience.
3. World of Goo
The top 3 games are where things take a turn to a place that only engineers can truly enjoy them. World of Goo, the game of getting a number of goo balls into a pipe by creating large gooey structures. This could involve creating tall structures made of goo, or spanning chasms with bridges, made of goo… Do you see the theme? This is a great lesson in truss structures, concentrated loads learning to Google your own answers once you give up on a level.
2. Fantastic Contraption
This is an oldie but a goodie. Similar to World of Good, you need to get balls from one point in a level to another. This might involve building bridges, towers or ramps out of a variety of parts that have different properties. Oh, did I mention all the balls must be in the final zone at the same time? Since you’re probably reading this at work, and are just about done, play Fantastic Contraption for free to kill some time!
1. Kerbal Space Program
KSP looks like a simple physics-based simulator where you must launch your shuttle into space using leftover airplane and rocket pieces, and it is just that! But the fun comes in when you consider that you’re starting out as a tiny aerospace company barely leaving the atmosphere and growing into a huge space travel conglomerate setting unprecedented space exploration numbers. Traveler further than ever before by factoring in weight, different stages of flight, fuel use and the ideal parts for your design. This game even has a partnership with NASA! Nothing says nerd…er…I mean engineer more than that!
There you have it, the Unprofessional Engineering top 10 list for engineering video games. I’ve seen an argument for a few others, but since I probably haven’t played them, how could I add them? If you have one you think is missing from the list, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.