10 fun (and safe) ways to pretend to be a hacker

Enjoy hacking, Hollywood-style, with these video games

Scrolling green excitement: 10 fun hacking video games

Working in IT can be stressful, so the need to blow off some steam is a real one for folks in the industry. If you've felt the temptation to go black hat after a tough day at the office, these hacking-related video games could offer a harmless outlet for your darker computing urges.


"Uplink" (Windows/Mac/Linux)

The granddaddy of hacking games. "Uplink," which was released in 2001 by Introversion Software, retains a devoted fanbase and active modding community. While it's not without its flaws -- it's wildly unrealistic, frequently difficult and, unlike most games on our list, costs $15 for the full version -- it's also so immersive that you won't care.


"Codelink" (Windows/Flash, free)

"Codelink" is a fan-made effort to recapture "Uplink's" engrossing atmosphere, and while it's definitely rougher around the edges, the spirit is still there. Plus, it's free.


"The Hacker" (browser)

"The Hacker," from independent developer DPFlashes, is shooting for the same vibe as "Uplink" and "Codelink," though it's a lot simpler and nowhere near as long. It's still fine for a quick playthrough, however.


"Hacker vs. Hacker" (browser)

We were all set to dismiss this one as a simple "Plants vs. Zombies" clone. While the gameplay is still, um, highly reminiscent of the Popcap classic, the head-to-head twist makes it surprisingly addictive.


"Street Hacker" (Windows)

"Street Hacker" is a little more in-depth than some of the other entries, and marginally more technical. The splashy visual design is a bit dated at this point, but those favoring more complex hacker games could find a lot to like here.


"Hack Wars" (browser)

Feel competitive? "Hack Wars" might be the game for you. With the ability to actually script your own programs in a C-esque language -- and then sell them to other players -- this multiplayer title could prove highly challenging.


"SlaveHack" (browser)

"SlaveHack" is reminiscent of "Hack Wars," in that players hack each other in order to make money from selling software illegally, sending spam and destroying competitors. Beware an outsized learning curve and an impatient player base.


"Computer Hacker" (browser)

This low-fi entry nevertheless provides a slightly more complex challenge than "The Hacker," while still being simple enough for non-techies to grasp quickly.


"NetworKing" (browser)

that's right, NASA's "NetworKing" is NOT a hacker game. Rather, it's a simple, elegant simulation of putting together a network capable of handling traffic from scads of satellites. Admins with an interest in networks beyond the surly bonds of Earth are going to love this one.


"Hacker Typer" (browser)

While this isn't a hacker game either, we felt it was important to include "Hacker Typer" for its send-up of the Hollywood convention of what hacking actually looks like. Simply mash keys randomly to make it look like you're doing something incredibly complicated!