Arena.Xlsm Is An RPG Made Entirely In Excel

I should just repeat the headline a few times and then drop in the link to the free download, but a little context may be helpful. Playing Football Manager, so people jest, is like playing with spreadsheets, poring over lists and figures. They are wrong. Playing with spreadsheets doesn’t lead to a management simulation, it’s more of an arena-based roguelike sort of experience. Cary Walkin, an accountant and MBA candidate at the Schulich School of Business in Toronto, has created an RPG in Excel. Much of the content is procedurally generated, with more than 2,000 possible enemy types and 1,000 item combinations, but there are also boss encounters and a story with several endings. Download it here and check the wiki for info.


  1. Fiatil says:

    I’m glad my first intuition of “There’s no damn way this person isn’t an accountant” proved to be true.

    • Elma_Gupton says:

      what Chris replied I didnt even know that anybody able to get paid $5553 in one month on the internet. did you see this page… link to

  2. Bhazor says:

    “RPG’s aren’t quite nerdy enough. Hmmmm, if only…”

    Does Excel still have that flight sim easter egg?

    • Yawyk says:

      This. Great easter egg.

    • darkChozo says:

      Pretty sure Microsoft prohibited their engineers from inserting easter eggs into code a while back. Security threats and such. Oh, and they hate fun.

  3. mrt181 says:

    Ahh, non-programmers in business that are programming in excel, the dread of my worklife…

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Hnnnrgh… I almost had an aneurism with the flashbacks that caused.

      Oh, and the worst words I ever heard are: “Yes, I suppose C# is alright for most people, but I can’t see why you’re not going to do it in Excel. We really like Excel. There’s a guy on our staff who makes the most wonderful fancy spreadsheets on Excel. Can you do this for us in Excel? We’re the customer and we want you to do this in Excel. So take your lovely prototype that works perfectly in every regard – you know, the one you told us was the finished product, for some reason – and go and make it in Excel, won’t you? I know this is the first time we’ve mentioned Excel after all those design and specification meetings, but we have suddenly been possessed by brain-eating worms from the Moon, so Excel it is! There’s a good chap.”

      Then I killed them all and bathed in their blood.

      • LimEJET says:

        Like any sane man would.

      • Premium User Badge

        distantlurker says:

        Brain eating worms are from mars, space turtles are from the moon. It’s like polar bears and penguins.

  4. Koozer says:

    I remember the old legends from school about the hidden games in Excel. I never unearthed any of them…

  5. Hoaxfish says:

    I guess PCs really are for spreadsheets.

  6. Askeladd says:

    EVE vice versa is Excel programmed in a game engine.

    • Inverselaw says:

      I remember when EVE overhauled the in game browser, I transfered my various excell spreadsheets (tower fuel, mining spreadsheet) to google docs so that I could use them in game. I remember shouting to my corpmates about how I could use spreadsheets in a spreadsheet.

      • Askeladd says:

        Oh god, how true that is. But playing a game like that tells much about us? I’m sometimes disgusted at myself.

  7. Vegard Pompey says:

    He will get sued by ZeniMax over the use of the word “Arena”.

  8. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Goes to prove you can do a game from about anything. Do have a lot of respect for these folks, whose love for games and game making leads them to create, sometimes masterpieces, with the only tools they know about. From The brilliant Solium Infernum in Adobe Director, by Cryptic Comet, to this — I hope — small Excel pearl.

    That said, it did come in a weird time for me. Just recently I got tired of Excel annoyances (aka plain simple stupidity) and went with LibreOffice instead. Tried to run it from Calc 3.6 and sure enough I started to get macro errors right from the onset. Really hate the idea of re-installing Excel because of this…

    • LTK says:

      This amuses me. “An RPG made in Microsoft Excel? NOT NICHE ENOUGH. LibreOffice or no sale.”

      It’s not really what you’re saying, I know; it’s just that it’s about the most compatible game in existence and it still finds ways to alienate people who use a different product, which is pretty funny.

      • LionsPhil says:

        it’s just that it’s about the most compatible game in existence

        I hate to say it, but Facebook games probably beat it, since they only need some quantity of browser, and presumably some of the bigger ones even bother to work in horrors like older IEs.

        (Hell, Flash probably has more installs than Excel.)

      • Nixitur says:

        Actually, there are plenty of Windows installs which do not include Microsoft Office. And as Phil said, Flash games are far more compatible.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Well, someone will probably convert the VBA code. It doesn’t seem protected in any way.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        There was an article recently suggesting making MS-DOS games, thus maximising every platform that DOSBox is currently available on: link to

        • Mario Figueiredo says:

          It may seem an interesting idea at first, but honestly I doubt many programmers will ever want to go back to DOS programming. Those weren’t fun times, let me tell you.

          Coding applications in protected mode to gain access to extended memory was a major pain in the neck. Virtual Mode (which DOSBOX fully supports) made things only a tad bit easier. But it was still quite the drag. Unless your game will only use 1MB of memory, you are in for a lot of pain.

      • malkav11 says:

        Office is actually a really expensive piece of software that I personally have never needed to use in my home life. There are a lot of other formats that would be far more accessible.

    • crinkles esq. says:

      Well, Adobe Director was a semi-legitimate game development tool back in the day (the early 90s “interactive CD-ROM” day, that is). After all, the first Myst game was done in Director.

      This Excel game is frightening. What do you get when you lose, a macro virus?

  9. Lambchops says:

    Oh my word, I don’t think I’ll excel at this. If only someone had the power to point me in the right direction then I’d be able to access a new outlook.

    One may note that the secret is in known when to stop, to which I’d say, “you’re not my publisher. get the fuck out of my office.”

  10. FullMetalMonkey says:

    I wonder how soon it will be before we see an Excel EvE Online.

    Oh wait…

  11. MadTinkerer says:

    Oh boy: I finally have a reason to use Excel! Now we just need RPGs for PowerPoint and Outlook! (There’s already one for Word.)

  12. mrd says:

    A million years ago I created a text MUD in Access 2.0 that we played on the work LAN.

    I was obviously aiming for the wrong part of the market and wrong Office application.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Maybe not, maybe not. :)

      Access did enjoy it’s time in the sun. Very popular then, as you well know. The idea of a MUD in Access is something that wouldn’t shock me back then. For anyone not into C, that would seem like one of the most reasonable choices. Well done you!

      Heck! Large and complex PBMs (play by snail male) had been developed previously entirely on DBase and multi-page reports for hundreds of players printed on dot matrix printers every weekend. The notions of performance, time spent, speed, all changed dramatically only in the 2000’s. A Access 2.0 MUD? I could have played that!

      • mrd says:

        I was living in Access at the time and wanted to do something more fun and different. Since I had a handful of years previously spent a lot of time in MUME (not such a beneficial thing) doing a MUD in Access seemed like a fun and different idea.

        It worked surprisingly well actually. :)

  13. Demon Beaver says:

    Can my PC run this? I have only 4GB of RAM, an Intel VGA and a Core 2 Duo. Does anyone know how this’ll run for me?

  14. RickGrantham says:

    This actually isn’t too bad of a game… if you can get past that it was built by an accountant in Excel.

    I also did a quick write up of this game, along with about a 6 minute video that you guys might like. Cary Walkin (the developer) is active in the comments section of the post. You can find it here
    Video of the Arena.Xlms Game