Online games to entertain

It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. In order to bring the best to you, our audience, I pulled up my sleeves and spent an afternoon poking around the world of online games.  Here are the three sites I found most enjoyable.

Popcap games

PC Magazine reviewed Popcap games in 2003 with a very short review – that they were too busy playing to write more! I can sympathize. It gets my vote for the best way to spend a few hours in simple fun.

Popcap provides a number of games that you can play on the web for free, including two multi-player card games. But its strength is simple single-player games.

The flagship game is Bejeweled (you have to install their Active-X component to play) which is a highly addictive puzzle game – you swap jewels to make rows of three (or more). It only took me 5 or 10 minutes to understand the principles involved, but I spent 20 minutes playing because it was a lot of fun.

But my favourite games on the site is Bookworm, where you link letters to make words for points before the library burns downThis is the game I’d be likely to return to enjoy again.

Popcap games are designed to be easy to play, with timed and untimed versions of many games, new player hints, and instructions down the left hand side. Some of the fonts are a little difficult to read (particularly titles, which sometimes appear in script) but the games are well worth this small irritation.

In order to play many of the online web games you do not need to provide any personal information at all. For games requiring chat you must provide an email address and your age.  Their privacy policy is acceptable (if you enter contests you can opt out of further mailings) and they have been around a long time. I recommend this site as a place to start, especially if you are (like me) easily frustrated by too many complicated instructions at once.

MSN Games by was purchased by MSN, but has also been around a long time. The site provides a full spectrum of games – single player and multiple player – crosswords, sports games, puzzle games, and casino games.  I find the Jeopardy! game (you select your question from multiple choices) to be a lot of fun, and dared to try my hand at Blackjack which was also a pleasant way to pass some time.

Again, you do not need to provide personal information to play the online games. But watch out for the ads – they can get a bit annoying, and I was fooled once into believing an ad for was the beginning of a game.

Each game has an overview you can read before you play it. I didn’t find the instructions quite as helpful as at, but the range of games made up for it. If you want to try out a lot of different games, this is the site for you.

Yahoo! Games

Yahoo! Games offers mostly multi-player games. They have a few single-player games, but nothing like the selection available at the two previous sites.

To play multi-player games, you will need create a Yahoo! identity (I have been a member of Yahoo! for years and find their privacy policy is acceptable to me, but be sure to read it for yourself). This takes a few minutes, and gives you access to email, chat, groups (online mailing lists), and games. Once you have that set up, you can join in right away.

It may have been the familiarity of the Yahoo! site, but this is where I felt brave enough to join in to play with others. The help is useful, and you can read it before you start to play. But nothing actually prepared me for what it was like to join in with a group of players. When you join a group you are connected to a chat room first, and then you can select a particular game (if you think of it like a clubhouse, with tables of players, that may help).

One of the options in the poker area is a beginners’ group – very much needed for this novice! You can also watch a game, which as a new player I found helpful. However the chat room was very busy and the conversation went quickly.

I would recommend starting with a simple game, like checkers, to get used to the chat room and the game itself. If you invite a friend along, you can play with someone you know and trust before you join the melee in the poker area.

I think this site will appeal to those who intend to return again and again, and who aren’t satisfied with playing against a computer. If you want to both play and chat with others, give it a whirl.