2008, Sony Computer
This game has kept me up many, many times. A lot of people say that the best thing about LittleBigPlanet is the opportunity to build and play infinite levels because of the user-created worlds that you can connect to on the PlayStation Network. I disagree. The actual most wonderful part of this game is taking pictures of yourself pulling terrible faces with the camera built into the PS3, then making “stickers” of them in the game and putting them all over everything. Truly, though, the game play itself is also really fun, with a platformer-style layout that’s laden with all kinds of cool-looking things to swing from, jump on, and generally mess around with. LBP is just frustrating enough to keep you glued to your controller, but not so frustrating that you want to slam it against the wall after falling into yet another pit. Plus, the sock-puppet avatars are really cute and you can make them wear dumb little costumes. My favorites are the Elizabethan gear (yes, this is really a thing) and the zebra head, preferably at the same time. —Amy Rose
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2011, Bethesda Softworks
Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Skyrim is the most current reigning king of your insomnia. It’s a gorgeous immersive sandbox game, which means that you can spend your time completing big important quests, working on random side quests, or just walking around fighting bears. Even a simple task like delivering a book can take hours, as you are sidetracked, attacked, and given more quests, but you’re having so much fun you don’t even care. —Emily G.
2010, Hello Games
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
In this game, you’re Joe Danger, a stunt biker with a taste for…you guessed it, danger. The object of the game is to get through each course as flawlessly as possible, and then to add some flair to it, doing handlebar stunts and flipping off of your seat. The brevity of each track, combined with the importance of timing, make it incredibly easy to say “I’m just going to try this one more time” until 4 AM or so. —Emily G.
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Reasons why you should play Mario Kart:
1. It’s one of the most competitive games I know that is actually not ridiculously hard, so there is always a chance you can beat your big brother, muahaha!
2. You can play it with numerous other people or practice on your own to make sure you rule over all your friends.
3. You can throw bananas at people.
4. You can be a girl character!!! (I prefer Daisy over Peach.)
5. It is terribly, terribly addictive. This game should come with a warning: “Whole afternoons/evenings/nights can disappear before your eyes losing valuable studying/sleeping/living time.” —Naomi
Nintendo 64, NES, Nintendo Vs. System, Nintendo Power, PlayChoice-10, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, 3DS Virtual Console
Some people who go away to college develop drug habits that detract from their studies, and in a way you could say that I am one of those people. I’m a pill fanatic. I’m addicted to Dr. Mario, a game that involves stacking dual-toned “pills” in color-coordinated groups in order to kill “viruses.” I swear I get a physical rush just from playing the game. It’s that good. And OMG the soundtrack. At first, the music feels like a dentist drilling into your eardrum, but by your third or fourth game you’ll start associating the sound with the rush of clearing viruses, and next thing you know you’ll be whistling “boop bee boop beep boo beep bo bee beep beep” down the hallway and everyone will be staring at you. Once you play, you’ll know what I mean. Most addicting thing ever. I play on N64, but you can check it out online if you want to use it as a break from Tumbling and checking Facebook, I mean doing homework. —Jamie
GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS, Windows, WiiWare, iOS, Nintendo 3DS
Ace Attorney is my most favorite video game series of all time, and that’s saying a lot, given my serious romantic involvement with Super Mario. Ace Attorney is the perfect mix of adventure and role-playing, with a lot of yelling spread liberally throughout—I wouldn’t recommend getting too into this game in public, which is why it’s a better accompaniment to staying up all night in the privacy of your own bedroom. In most of the releases, you play a hotheaded novice attorney, Phoenix Wright, who must collect evidence for a slew of really steamy cases. When you hit the courtroom, you have the choice to yell, “OBJECTION!” into the system mic if things aren’t adding up right. The best way to do it is with A LOT of gusto. The first game and the ones after the fourth are especially good. This is because the series was adapted from the Japanese versions for Game Boy Advance, and the updates on the first and then later games reflect new game-play developments for the DS releases. Even without the updates, the snappy dialogue, pointy-haired protagonist, and utterly addictive nature of these games make them essential. —Amy Rose
2000-2003, Electronic Arts
Windows, Mac OS, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube
Whatever edition of this game you play, or whether it’s on PC or console, nothing is more of a timesuck than being in charge of a household full of human beings. You keep them fed, well rested, entertained, and successful at work, and unlike in life, you get to see the immediate results of your hard work. It’s incredibly easy to get wrapped up in a weird romance or new baby and lose all track of time. —Emily G.
Gears of War 3, Horde mode
2011, Microsoft Studios
I have friends all over the country, and we rarely call to check in with one another. Instead, we hop online and slaughter hundreds of attacking Locusts while catching up. The idea behind Horde mode is that you have to fend off waves of bad guys that get increasingly difficult to fight. You strategize with friends, you find out whom they’re dating, you trade weapons, and you do your best to beat all 50 levels. —Emily G.
Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo 64, iQue Player, Virtual Console
On a certain level, I feel that you can get to know people based on which characters they choose for Super Smash Bros. Is your opponent going to go for the comedy factor of the weak-but-kitschy Jigglypuff, or keep it super-serious and competitive with Captain Falcon (easily the best character in the game)? Accommodating up to four players at a time, this game, or its equally good incarnations for the GameCube and Wii, is great for sleepovers. You can pick from a ton of familiar favorite characters, then make your (in my opinion, deeply revealing) selection go to town on your friends’ picks. It’s also fun to play this game solo in order to bear witness to one of the most ridiculous final bosses ever—a gloved white Mickey Mouse-esque hand named, appropriately, Master Hand. It takes a little while to reach him, but the barrage of quirky little items and power-ups that rain down from the sky in each level keep this game surprising enough to maintain your interest until the two of you finally face off. Wait, how do you “face off” with a hand? —Amy Rose
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
2010, Blizzard Entertainment
Windows, Mac OS X
I’m a relative newbie to StarCraft, but I can feel its intense magnet-like qualities beckoning me to sleepless nights already. In this PC strategy game, you build up a society from scratch for the sole purpose of destroying your enemies. Building a military force from resources you find in the ground takes time, so matches are automatically pretty long, and even though you have the ability to save and come back later, why on earth would you want to put off the sweet taste of victory? —Emily G.
2007, PopCap Games
Windows, Mac OS X, iPod, iPhone, Java ME, BREW, Nintendo DS…[deep breath]…Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, iOS, Zeebo, Android
Peggle is a relatively simple puzzle game, available on every robot you own (see exhaustive list above), which means that I can play it pretty much all the time. In it, you fire one ball at a bunch of other balls in order to eliminate them. That’s it. The levels go from easy to mind-bendingly hard, but once you’re on a roll, you simply cannot stop. It feels too good to win. —Emily G.