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Boss Button

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A Boss Button (also known as a Boss Key) is a feature present in some older computer games activated by a command to fool superiors and coworkers into thinking that the player is doing work instead of playing a game. In some cases, the boss key hides the game completely and returns the user to the desktop, the DOS prompt or whatever, with the option of quickly resuming where the player left. More elaborately, some games will instead display a generic office-work picture (e.g. a spreadsheet, an important-looking graph, a screenshot of a text processor). Of course, such screens don't necessarily hold up to close scrutiny.


Has been rendered pretty much obsolete with multitasking operating systems that allow the user to quickly switch active windows (such as the ALT-TAB command in Windows), but the feature is still used on a few websites.

Not a button that summons a boss character.


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    Video Games 
  • Bezare for the Apple ][ is the Ur-Example, from 1981 - pressing Ctrl-B would bring up a fake spreadsheet.
  • The Friendlyware set of software for the IBM Personal Computer from 1983 is one of the earliest well-known examples - pressing F10 would bring up a fake bar chart, and pressing F10 again would return to the program.
  • An Apple Macintosh version of Arkanoid had a "Boss" feature that brought up some fake correspondence that refers at one point to "Arkaholics Anonymous."
  • Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards would bring up a fake bar chart on command. However, upon closer inspection, the bar chart was not so innocent-looking (the bar labels were for different types of condoms), and when the player attempted to return to the game, they would have to restore from their last save, because, as the game puts it, "when you panic, I forget everything!"
  • Space Quest III had a Boss Button available from one of the menus. However, upon selecting it, the screen would cut to black and say that the player's boss wouldn't be happy if they knew how long the player had been playing the game, showing the total time the player had been playing up to that point.
  • The Chessmaster 2000 game has a key that puts up a fake screen of a "real estate investment analysis".
  • Moorhuhn 2 displays a Microsoft Word screenshot (in German) when the boss key is pressed.
  • The original version of Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth has a "boss is coming" command which opened an "Excel folder" window, though considering that the game was still visible behind the window, and the folder included a file damningly named "Resume", it wasn't very effective.
  • Rogue has one. It brings up a fake DOS prompt.
  • Minecraft's 2019 April Fools' update, which contains many references to 90s gaming trends, includes a boss key which displays a humorous spreadsheet.

    Non Video Game Examples 
  • CBS Sports' website has a button on their NCAA basketball tournament streams that brings up a fake spreadsheet to hide the video from passers-by.
  • A page on Cartoon Network's website promoting their then-upcoming series Codename: Kids Next Door had a button that brought up a fake "School is Cool!" page for kids to hide the page from their parents, keeping with the show's theme.
  • The open-source VLC media player has a "Boss Key" that pauses currently playing audio or video and minimizes the window to the tray, hiding it from the taskbar. By default, the hotkey combination is Ctrl-Shift-B.

Fictional Examples

    Comic Books 
  • Foxtrot has Jason talking to Peter about his new Prince of Persia game, which their mother doesn't know about. Just as he's saying that it's a game where you need to be fast, their mother drops in... and sees Jason typing up his book report.
    Peter: And fast you are.

  • In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Benji spends his work time playing a first-person shooter when not helping Ethan. When Director Hunley shows up to interrogate him about the ongoing search for Ethan, he's rather quick to hit a key on his computer that automatically pulls work-related files up.


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