The best websites for free online gaming

In the last ten years, online gaming has reached new heights. It's offered all over the web these days, not just on dedicated servers for online play, but in countless other places and much of it for free. Online gaming isn't just the preserve of first person shooters and MMORPGs any more and you don't have to buy a game or pay a subscription each month to be a dedicated gamer. These are some of the best places to play free online games.

Newgrounds

Newgrounds is a flash gaming site that has been around since the late 1990's and is still going strong. It is entirely based on user content and talented members upload hundred of games, animations and artworks every week. You don't have to become a member to play but if you do you gain access to the forum, the medal system and ranking (perfect for all the achievement hunters out there), plus if you are talented you can upload your own flash creations, though be warned, all new uploads go through a user based rating system known as the Portal, before being archived. If the game is poor quality, you might find it gets blammed.

Being user based, a lot of rubbish does still slip through but it rarely makes it onto the front page or into any of the collections. I would advise looking for games there rather than the portal if you're a casual user.

Every Newgrounds game is totally free to play, with all revenue for the site coming from advertising. There's a huge range of games, from shoot' em ups, to platformers, to RPG's and everything else in between. If you're looking for something that's more of a mental challenge there's puzzles, quizzes and brain-training style games. Some games last a few minutes but others can go on for hours and you might need a few sessions to complete them.

Don't miss... Achievement Unlocked, Toss the Turtle and the Art games collection.

Avoid... The portal and anything with the word 'clock' in the title.

Facebook

Chances are that if you have a facebook then you've played a game on there or know someone who does play. There are a host of puzzle games and a wide selection of high quality social media games which have developed specifically on facebook. Farmville is the best known of course but there are lots of great social media games that aren't tied to one location which you decorate and look after. Treasure Isle and Indiana Jones Adventure World are two of the most expansive games on there right now, with lots of levels and large maps to explore.

Facebook games are free to play but most have premium content for those that want it, offering extras to decorate your farm/house/island/city and in game cash to buy shortcuts. However, the games can easily be played without spending a penny and usually include a little in game cash for premium items when you start playing.

To get the most out of the games you need several friends who also play. You can set up dummy accounts to send you items you'll need to complete tasks within the games or use one dummy account to make friends with other players. The main page for each game always has lots of users looking to be added but bear in mind you don't want anyone seeing your personal details. If you are going to invite strangers onto your personal facebook to play then make sure they're on a limited profile so they can only see your game related updates.

Don't miss... Indiana Jones Adventure World and The Sims.

Avoid... sharing your personal details with people you don't know.


[adult swim]

Better known for being a TV network, [adult swim] hosts a bevy of online games on it's website, most in keeping with the channel's own brand of humor. The online games include such titles as Hemp Tycoon, Amateur Surgeon and Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars and are created specifically for [adult swim]. Most of these are quick and easy games, good for a laugh and fifteen minutes gaming on your lunch break plus they are all free to play.

Don't miss... Death Row Diner and Five Minutes to Kill Yourself.

Avoid... Pole Dance Party.

Kongregate

Much like Newgrounds, Kongregate is a dedicated flash gaming site and is free to play without signing up, though if you do you gain access to the achievements. There are some fantastic games on Congregate and they have more than 50,000 free titles on the site right now, but without a portal and animations, it falls a little short of Newgrounds standard for member experience. It is however perfect if you just want a quick game.

Don't miss... Any of the Bloons Tower Defense games.

Avoid... achievement hunting.


Minecraft

Minecraft was officially released on 18th November 2011 and at the time of writing (6th February 2012), it has already had almost 22 million players. It's an open world adventure/building game from an independent developer and can be played alone or multiplayer online.

The premise of the game is to create a home, tools and furniture, and simply stay alive. During the day you can explore an enormous territory but at night the monsters come and you must retreat to whatever home you have managed to create for yourself, be it a castle or a cave.

It's a great game, though only the classic version is available free on the website. After playing that for a while I decided to buy the full version, then found my husband, who is a great supporter of indie developers, had already purchased a copy. The classic version is a full game though, and there's no need to shell out for Minecraft whilst that's available for free.

Don't miss... creating tools and furniture. There's so many combinations to try that it can be a fun puzzle on it's own.

Avoid... getting anywhere near a zombie. They will explode and take a big chunk of the landscape with them, including the home you just spent an hour tunneling into the side of a hill.

Where is your favorite online game spot?

Where is your favorite online game spot?

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