So we all know waiting sucks!

Waiting rooms even more so, especially in a Covid world where you can no longer take someone with you. When going through cancer treatment you’ll start to think of waiting rooms as your second home.

At least you can get some respite from the waiting room dread with video games.

One option is to take a handheld console with you. Handhelds come in many forms and price ranges with some fairly inexpensive non-brand ones coming preloaded with classic games.

If you don’t have a handheld luckily your phone can double up as a way to play games, which is what I did most of the time.

When choosing what to play in a waiting room there’s a few things to consider

–          Is it something you can put down as soon as you are called?

–          Is it something without audio, you don’t want to miss your name being called whilst wearing headphones or annoy people with audio.

–          Does it need an internet connection? Internet access can be iffy depending on which hospital you’re in and even vary from department to department.

You also need to consider how much you’re able to concentrate that day. Chemo brain (AKA chemo fog) is a side effect of chemotherapy which slows your cognitive abilities and processing time. So having a range of games installed on your phone can be helpful.

With this in mind, here are my personal picks for waiting room games on mobile.

– Monument Valley

Monument Valley is a 3d puzzle game where you walk a princess though various levels of a maze. Great for days you can think a little bit but aren’t up for too much of a mental work out.

Price: £2.99 for the original, prices vary for the sequels.

Concentration needed: 3/5

– Candy Crush

Bright colourful and cheery, in this game you slide hard boiled sweets around so the colours line up. Once you have 3 or more in a row they disappear.

The game starts off easy and increases in difficulty, you can replay earlier levels if you want something to keep you occupied but don’t want to think at all.

Nice for when you’ve got chemo brain and can’t concentrate on too much.

Concentration needed: 2/5 to 4/5 depending on the level

Price : Free with in app purchases

– Play with cats

Probably the most random on this list. This is a game where you make a town and fill it with cartoon cats, then interact with them….it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a game called “play with cats”.

Very relaxing, great for days you’re not feeling too great.

Price: Free

Concentration needed: 1/5

– Fallout shelter

A little bit like a basic sims game with a fallout franchise skin.

You build your underground vault to have different rooms. Your vault dwellers can have babies, you need to check there are enough resources. Defend from any attacking monster or check electrical fires are put out.

One of the downsides depends on your screen size. I found when I was having blurry eyes, another common chemo side effect, It was difficult to play.

Price: Free with in game purchases.

Concentration needed: 2/5

– Words with friends

A virtual scrabble that you can play with people you know or strangers.

Price: Free with in game purchases.

Concentration needed: 4/5

– Pokémon GO (internet access needed)

You catch Pokémon and battle them. This app has the option of putting on Augmented reality (AR) mode so it looks like the Pokémon are in the waiting room. I recommend having AR off if there are other people in the room.

This would be my number one choice however it’s very dependent on internet access and if there’s a gym or Pokéstop stop near you to get more Pokéballs. I was lucky as my radiotherapy waiting room had a gym right outside so I could battle and level up each time I went.

Price : Free with in game purchases.

Concentration needed: 1/5

– Chaos Reborn

Imagine chess crossed with a card game, crossed with myths and magic.

This is good for when you know you’re going to be in a waiting room for a long time and want something to engage with.

For me it’s a personal favourite however on days the chemo fog was too bad I found it too tricky to concentrate on, those days I opted for bright colours and mindless clicking games.

Price: £9.99 however there are no in app purchases with this game.

Concentration needed: 5/5

That’s my personal top picks, what are yours?

*Prices based on play store at time of article release


By Sam Stallard, BCBA, MSc, MBPsS, BSc (hons)