Playing the Game

Playing the Game: The Culture of Digital Games

Free Games

This page lists a few of the many free digital games that are available. Some can be played online using your web browser, whilst others must first be downloaded and installed. At the bottom of the page a number of demos are listed (incomplete games which will give you a taste of the real thing), as well as several sites which provide links to yet more free games.

Browser Games

All of the games listed below can be played immediately in your browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc). Just surf to the site and play.
Achievement Unlocked. Objective: work out what the objective is. Esoteric metagaming.
Beakins Great Mango Quest. Help Beakin climb to the world's largest mango. Quirky fun with a lazy jazz soundtrack.
Canabalt. Fast-paced platformer. Sleek, one-button gaming.
Crimson Room. Can you escape from the Crimson Room? And then from the Viridian Room? Infuriating puzzlers.
The Curfew. Civil liberties-themed adventure game produced for Channel 4. Walkthrough available here.
Defend Your Castle. Compulsive little Flash game bursting with rewards. Gruesome sound effects. Also available here.
Denki Blocks. Shuffle tiny coloured blocks. Gentle puzzler.
Diner Dash. Relive all the stresses of waiting tables and dealing with demanding customers.
ElectroCity. Natty little city simulation focusing on energy conservation. Wind, coal, or nuclear: you decide. Download also available from here.
Fishy. Eat small fish, avoid big fish, go with the flow.
Flow. Guide your microbe, eat and evolve. Beguiling muncher by Jenova Chen.
Game Level Editor. 3D platform game. Play the sample levels (top right, then press 'Play the Level') using the arrow keys and spacebar. Then try creating your own levels.
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Three versions of this 1984 text adventure are available: one with pictures, another with pictures, and one you can't save.
Kill Time. Don't let the guy with the eyebrows grab your cursor. Tricky.
Masq. Drama-soap story set in a fashion design company; adult-themes and hundreds of endings.
NationStates. Nation simulation game: create a utopia or oppress your people. Inspired by Max Barry's novel Jennifer Government.
Orbox. Cool little puzzler. Guide your pulsing box to the red exit.
Pac-man. Browser version of the 1980 arcade classic.
Phosphor. Quake-style first person shooter by Nick Kang using Shockwave. Astonishing.
Pitch'N Put Golf. Put your way round the rooms of a house. Cute.
Play the News. Predict the news. Like fantasy football but with celebrity news, politics, technology, etc.
Runescape. Massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) set in a fantasy universe. Close to 70000 players registered.
Samorost. A gentle, surreal, gorgeously designed Shockwave puzzle-game. Short, leisurely, funny.
Sissyfight 2000. A playground war between a bunch of girls out to ruin one another's popularity and self-esteem. Bitchin'.
Snowcraft. Increasingly manic snowball fights. Cool.
Stop Disasters! UN produced educational game. Hefty download and buggy, but engaging.
Twinoo. A MoMPG (Mono MultiPlayer Game) in which the two hemispheres of your brain play against each another. Odd.
Upgrade Complete. Upgrade everything from the game graphics to the menu. Fun metagaming.
Vectorpark. Three elegantly-animated and compulsive puzzles.
Warbears. Help the Warbears team rescue hostages from the Bedtime Bank robbery. Cute point-and-click puzzle-adventure.

Games to Download

In order to play the following games you will need to download them into your own PC or laptop and then install them.
Abadía del Crimen. Isometric murder-mystery based on Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Spanish only.
Alex the Allegator 4. Help Alex save his girlfriend Lola from the nasty humans. Old-style platform game. Also available here.
Cloud. Fly amongst the clouds. Restful drifting by Jenova Chen.
Creatures Docking Station. A free, standalone version of the popular Creatures games. Breed cute furry things.
Façade. Help your friends Grace and Trip patch up their marriage (or not) in this 'interactive drama'. Genuinely different.
Food Force. Feed starving millions on the drought-ridden, civil war-blighted island of Sheylan. Educational game from the United Nations World Food Programme.
Grid Wars 2. Old school Asteroids-style shoot-em-up. Compulsive.
Gunroar. Pilot your gunboat and shoot enemy ships. Colourful, fast and furious.
Grand Theft Auto. The original 1997 game now free from Rockstar Games.
Icy Tower. Help Harold the Homeboy jump up the icy tower. Free running to a hip-hop-kazoo soundtrack. Also available here.
Little Figher 2. Cute fighting game from Hong Kong. Try VS mode first: press Attack three times to start, select 1 Computer Player, and then set the Difficulty level to Easy.
McDonald's Videogame. Find out just what's required to run a multinational fastfood chain.
Narbacular Drop. Rescue the princess from her dungeon using dimension-bending portals to solve puzzles.
Passage. A game about life which lasts exactly 5 minutes. Try it more than once.
PMOG. The 'Passively Multiplayer Online Game' you play whilst you're surfing, later relaunched as Nethernet. Now offline.
Sint Nicolaas. Help Santa deliver his presents. Old-style platorm game.
Seiklus. Charming exploration game: potter about to a great 80s-electro-style soundtrack.
Soldat. Fast and furious 2D mega-violence from Poland.
Stair Dismount. Win points by pushing someone down stairs. Unsettling, sadistic fun.
Starsiege: Tribes. Multiplayer sci-fi first-person shooter. Also available here.
Super Columbine Massacre RPG. Controversial game based on the high school killings. Video walkthrough available here.
Super Secret Ninja. Sneak past guards using your super secret ninja rope. Fast fun.
Virtual U. Can't get enough of university in the real world? This game simulates an American university campus, allowing you to take the administrative role of a university president.
Zombiepox. Save your zombified friends by tossing them brains. Cute cannibalism. Also available here.


The following games are all demos (demonstrations). After downloading and installing them you will be able to play the first few levels of the game. If you like it, you then have to purchase the game to play further.
Beyond Good and Evil. Lush and varied action-adventure game in which you play Jade, a reporter, protecting orphans, photographing wildlife, and uncovering the game's mystery.
Darwinia. Help save pixelated Darwinians from the evil red virus. Tron meets the Galapagos.
Diablo II. Fantasy role-playing game. Bash things as only a Barbarian can.
DOOM 3. Sequel to the module's set game, DOOM II. Scary.
Half-Life. Self-contained level called 'Half-Life: Uplink' which provides a good flavour of this classic first-person-shooter. You'll need to register (free) with Avault or Fileplanet.
Half-Life 2. This demo provides select levels from the best game of 2004. Requires you to register with Steam (free). Demo also available here.
Longest Journey. Lush point-and-click adventure game.
Oasis. Compulsively simple puzzler set in ancient Egypt.
Peacemaker. Solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Plants vs. Zombies. Get ready to soil your plants.
Platypus. Old-style scrolling shapeship shooter. In claymation.
realMyst. Elegant and atmospheric 3D version of the classic graphic puzzle-game Myst. Also available here and here.
Space Invaders. Free PC version of this arcade classic.

Free Game Sites

The following sites all list many additional free games. Some are better than others: if you find a good one please .
4Games. Game recommendations at the Channel 4 website.
ABA Games. More games from the makers of Gunroar.
Abandonia Reloaded. Original freeware games to download.
Acid Play. Huge collection of freeware games, of varying quality.
Autofish. A selection of unusual games recommended by the creator of Seiklus.
Baf's Guide. A large, annotated index of old-style text adventures: try Photopia or Varicella, both by Adam Cadre.
Denki. Several simple puzzle games, or 'digital toys'.
Don Pixel. Free online games.
Download Free Games. Demos, trials and freebies.
Free First Person Shooters. A Wikipedia list of nine FPS games.
Free Lunch Design. Several great games to download.
Free World Group. Demos, trials and freebies.
Games for the Brain. Selection of online, "neverending quiz and memory games to train your thinking" by Philipp Lenssen.
Good Experience Games. More than 60 free, online games.
Gratis Gaming. Ten free games to download.
iFiction. A collection of old-style text adventures.
ijji. Many online multiplayer games. US version of the popular Korean 'Hangame' site.
Iteration Games. Three quirky games.
Jason Rohrer. Several thought-provoking 'artgames' by Jason Rohrer. Try Passage.
Jayisgames. Free games thoughtfully and thoroughly reviewed.
Kuma Games. Offer a number of episodic games, from DinoHunters to KumaWar, all funded by advertising.
Orisinal: Morning Sunshine . A large collection of simple, sedate Flash games by Ferry Halim.
Persuasive Games. A selection of fun, thoughtful games for "persuasion, instruction, and activism".
Planet Freeplay. 1500 free games.
Ponged. Over 500 Flash games, from action to strategy to RPG.
Scenta. Numerous Flash games to play online. Try frustratingly compulsive Reverse.
Shockwave. A collection of games you can play online using Macromedia's Shockwave software.