The 10 best games for destroying your social life

Friends? Who needs friends, when you've got a +5 Ring of Elvish Quickening?

Some games demand more than a couple of nights a week. Some games are so compulsive, so infuriantingly addictive, that we disappear for months at a time before we're eventually pried from our sofas, squinting and wheezing like naked mole rats, scrabbling with our wasted muscles for one more squeeze of the controller. If you've never been there, perhaps you have more self-control than us. Or perhaps you've never played any of the following, rated by their power to keep you from the outside world...

10. Darksiders (2010)

Not 'apocalyptic' in the usual Hollywood movie sense, but literally apocalyptic in that players take control of War, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, during the final battle between heaven and hell. A dark, super-dramatic Zelda, it combines tricky combat with adventure aspects and a massive gameworld stocked of terrors to keep you playing well past the 50-hour mark.

9. Final Fantasy VII (1997)

For years, the only story a video game managed was that one about some woman being kidnapped and us having to rescue her. Then Final Fantasy VII came along, with months’ worth of non-stop emotional storytelling and the power to make adults cry. Not us, obviously, but, you know. Other people.

8. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)

It's not just the very big world that makes GTA V such an absorber of time, but the way in which players are encouraged to explore it. The quest to steal one particular type of car. Finding specific places that trigger UFO and ghost sightings. The mystery door at the bottom of the sea. It's a proper world, one in which weekends disappear in the blink of a bleary, screen-reddened eye.

7. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (1998)

You play a small boy dressed up as Robin Hood, sort of, but accompanied by a fairy, and you warp your way through time and space using a puzzle-solving musical toy. So far, so normal, but the gigantic gameworld and well-executed visual feast of Link's first 3D outing meant you might have started it as a boy, but you finished it a man. A 38-year-old man with an unhealthy interest in magical instruments, but technically a man.

6. Battlefield 3 (2011)

The single-player mission was a decent but unremarkable FPS, but it's the superb multiplayer fragfests, across massive maps and with loads of different vehicles to crash, that turned Battlefield 3 into a full year's worth of entertainment. We still pop in every now and then for a spot of casual evening killing.

More after the break...

5. Fallout 3 (2008)

An immense, action-packed reinvention of the RPG genre, Fallout 3 gave you a real sense of time as you shaped your character from birth in the safety of the Vault, and then of enormous space as you sent her/him out into the vast, post-apocalyptic wastes as an adult. More than that, there's just so much to do - you'd spend a while clearing some buildings of Fire Ants, take out a Supermutant stronghold, you'd look out of the window and it'd be September.

4. World Of Warcraft (2005)

A massively multiplayer online role-playing game that somehow managed to transcend the powerfully nerdish boundaries of its genre and become popular with 'normals'. Put in the hours and you could become a heroic leader of real troops and engage in sprawling quests and campaigns. Or you could be Leroy Jenkins.

3. Championship Manager 97/98 (1997)

Football is already a gigantic waste of hours, and Championship Mangaer was at times little more than an Excel simulator, but that didn't stop it being ludicrously addictive. It ended relationships. It drove grown men to tears. It made legends of rubbish players. Tommy Svindal Larsen! We love you!

2. EVE Online (2003)

This is the dream they had when they first created Elite in the 1980s. It's an online RPG in space, where thousands of players can come together to wage war, or soloists can carve out niches for themselves as humble resource miners. The time spent on this game in the past decade-and-a-bit is staggering, with tens of thousands of players investing hundreds of hours (and in some cases, large sums of real money) in building huge fleets of warships. The biggest battle so far lasted 10 hours, and destroyed virtual assets worth an estimated $300,000 in real money.

1. Civilisation (1991)

A game played across oceans of time. You begin with a handful of men in the year 4000BC, and gradually steer their development into towns and cities, creating industries, fostering a society that learns and fights and struggles and blooms right up to the space age. Majestic in scope and compulsive in nature, the Civilisation series has accounted for more time spent alone in front of a screen, slowly munching crisps and swigging from a warm 1.5L bottle of fizzy drink than any other. We know of at least two people whose friends have staged an intervention with Civilisation players, destroying the discs and telling them just go outside, into the real world, just for a bit. If you're a proper gamer, that kind of advice just means you're doing it right.

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