Commuting to work is no fun. It’s no fun in a car, where you’ll have to battle with traffic and pay attention to the road, and it’s not much more fun on a train, bus, or subway car, where you’ll be crammed in with other grumpy folks who haven’t had their morning coffee.

            But on mass transit, at least, you won’t be the one driving – and that means that you’re free to do something else to pass the time. That’s why you should always use your time on the subway or bus to better yourself: study a new language, read a classic book, or listen to an opera.

            Just kidding! You should play video games. Video games are the best way to make time fly by on a commute to work, and they’re the perfect way to unwind while escaping the office after a long work day. Video games come in all types, from simple and lighthearted to tough and challenging. They appeal to everyone – saying “I don’t like video games” is like saying “I don’t like books” or “I don’t like movies.” Video games are a medium, not a genre, and if you look you are sure to find a type of game that appeals to you.

            And video games are increasingly popular with older folks. forty years ago, a middle-aged person who spent lots of time at the arcade was a weirdo. Now, video game consoles are a staple in homes owned by successful adults. So there’s no stigma left in busting out a video game system on the subway car or playing a game on your phone during your bus ride. Why wouldn’t you play games on your commute?

            Well, maybe because you don’t know what to play. Don’t worry – we have you covered. Here’s your guide to gaming on your commute.

You already own a gaming system

            There are a lot of great gaming systems designed to be portable, and we’ll cover all of them in a moment. But before we do, it’s worth mentioning that you almost certainly already own a gaming system.

            We’re talking about your smartphone, of course, which is more than capable of playing some awesome video games. Smart phones offer a huge variety of games, and they’re a great way to start if you think you want to get into gaming but aren’t sure you want to invest in a mobile game console.

            There are countless great smartphone games out there, but there’s only a few types. Here are some you should consider.

  • Mobile-native games. Smartphones are powerful enough to run simple games, and designers have come up with plenty. Mobile games are often designed to keep you coming back for short gaming sessions. Many of them make money by allowing players to buy in-game items that give them advantages, so be aware that “free” games can still cost you (if you get competitive, anyway)!
  • Today’s phones are more powerful than the video game systems of yesterday, so it’s no surprise that some console classics have been ported over to smartphones. If the mobile-native Candy Crush isn’t your style, maybe you’d enjoy a retro port like Sonic the Hedgehog (originally a Sega Genesis console game)!
  • Lottery and casino games. These are technically mobile-native productions, but they’re unique enough to be listed separately here. Your mobile online gambling options include smartphone versions of casino games and unique gambling mini-games from some state lotteries. All mobile games make money somehow (such as through ads), but these types of games are clearly different. If you play responsibly, adding some stakes can really liven up your commute.

Your console options

            If you’re ready to move beyond your phone, consider a console from a major video game manufacturer. Here are the major options:

  • Nintendo 3DS XL. The 3DS is Nintendo’s mobile console. This is a small but powerful little device that’s perfect for playing platformers, racing games, and more.
  • Nintendo Switch. The Switch is a home console that can be “switched” into an on-the-go device. Nintendo is known for family-friendly fun, but this console still has challenging games for serious players.
  • Sony PlayStation Vita. The mobile cousin of Sony’s PlayStation home gaming console is perhaps the best option for grown-up gamers who want to play things like shooters and RPGs.

Finally, you may want to consider going retro. Older handheld systems like the Game Boy Color are still fun, and you can get them and their games cheaply at second-hand stores and retro gaming shops.

What to Play

            You have plenty of ways to play – but what should you play? Here are a few options that may be to your taste. Some games, of course, combine multiple genres.

  • Pow! Bam! Fighting games let you punch and kick your way to victory. An arcade staple, this genre lives on in mobile form.
  • Short for “massive multiplayer online,” these games put you in a virtual environment with tons of other players.
  • Platformers are the ones where you jump around on platforms (hence the name), stomp on people’s heads, and get from point A to point B. Super Mario Bros. is one famous example of this genre. Though you could once play only 2-D side-scrollers, this genre has had 3-D options for decades.
  • Figure it out! Arcade classics like Tetris and mobile games like Candy Crush are perfect for commutes.
  • Short for “role playing games,” these games tend to have you develop your characters, improving their abilities as you progress through the game.
  • It’s exactly what it sounds like! Run and gun your way through blood and guts, or choose a tactical shooter for some strategy.
  • Strategy games challenge your wits. They take many forms, but you’re often asked to play general: build bases and armies, attack others, and protect resources.