Look closely at fellow travelers' laptop computers. More often than not, you won't see spreadsheets or e-mail programs-but rather, video games. Although there aren't any formal statistics on how many corporate gamers there are, sales figures and other anecdotal evidence suggest a recent surge in gaming activity.
"Computer games aren't just for kids anymore," says Jim Charne, president and executive director of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, an organization for game developers in Los Angeles. "I see business travelers playing more amusement games."
Here are the top 10 computer games for business travelers:
1. Links Golf LS 2000
2. Roller Coaster Tycoon
3. Monopoly 2
4. Sim City 3000
5. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? 2nd Edition
6. Civilization 2
7. Chessmaster 7000
8. Microsoft Pinball Arcade
9. Hoyle Casino
10. Pandora's Box
What do travelers look for in a video game? "That depends," says Jason Short, director for Fullsail Real World Education's game-design program in Winter Park, Florida. "Most gamers prefer a quick game lasting less than 15 minutes, where the rules are simple, and which doesn't require a large hardware investment."
Here's how to pick the best game for you:
- Think memory. 3-D games require lots of power. Short advises "old classics" like Mahjong and solitaire, which load faster and take up less space.
- Get puzzled. Crossword puzzles and maze games don't overtax portables. Short says puzzles are finding a sizeable audience among business travelers, who enjoy the continuity and challenge.
- Play with your PDA. Palm units ship with games pre-installed, "When you see travelers busily tapping their Palm Pilot screen," says Bill Dyszel, author of PalmPilot for Dummies (IDG Books Worldwide), "they might be working-or they might be playing."
Christopher Elliott is a writer in Annapolis, Maryland. Contact him at www.elliott.org.