Long, long before there was Minecraft, there was Minesweeper, the game where each tentative, nerve-fraying click of the mouse brings the player ever closer to a disastrous, game-ending explosion. To put it in cinematic terms, it’s a bit like The Hurt Locker, only minus the horrific consequences. Having been bundled with various Windows operating systems over the years , the deviously simple, grid-based diversion has been wining the hearts and minds of desk jockeys everywhere while robbing them of countless hours of productivity in its current form since 1989. However, versions of the game date back to the 1960s, when it was played on the earliest, most primitive mainframe computers. The next important step in the evolution of Minesweeper might well be Minefield, a massive multi-player online derivative of the game devised by Ukrainian programmer Serge Borbit. When interviewed about his creation, Borbit was humble:

I was really inspired by guys from Massively FUN. They created an awesome game called Word2 (wordsquared.com). I liked the idea of an endless puzzle, so I’ve decided to build something similar. Since I am a big fan of original Minesweeper game, the idea immediately came to my mind. At the beginning, it was a “just for fun” project where I could gain some experience in modern web technologies. My friends and colleagues really liked the idea, they saw a potential in it, so that was huge motivation for me to continue working on Minefield.

Unfortunately, Minefield seems to be experiencing some growing pains. After being the subject of a MetaFilter thread with the tempting headline “Good-bye, Productivity,” the MMO has mostly been unable to handle the influx of players. Most visitors to the site will receive this message:

The game does occasionally work, however, so those who are truly interested are invited to keep trying and hoping for the best. In a way, waiting for the chance to play Minefield can be both a challenge and a time-eating diversion in and of itself. Either way, it’s an excuse to remain absolutely sedentary for many hours at a time.