Valentine's Day 2011 Best Gifts: Amazon Kindle 3 - Free Games You Can Play


Every time you want to buy a new tech gadget, be it a computer, UMPC, smartphone, whatever - one of the first things you consider is what kind of games you can play on it. Why should the Kindle be any different?

A gadget whose sole existence is to allow you to read books is nice. What's nicer is that after doing all the reading, you can actually chill and play some games on it instead. Well, ever since Amazon came out with the Kindle Development Kit (KDK) back in Jan 2010, this has become a reality.

Three games are already out, with many more on the way as developers start smelling the money, as the 3 games that were out are at the top of the Kindle Top 100 Bestseller lists.

What is it that I just heard you say? You want to get one for your son/nephew as a gift, but is now afraid to do so coz it might end up like all the PC and tech toys you bought him - ie, as game machines? Fear not, as the Kindle is rather limited in hardware, you won't see 3D graphics game there anytime soon. You won't even see Space Invaders scrolling games from the 70s. With the monochrome display and slow refresh, what they you can play are word games, like Scrabble, which is really good at building a good vocabulary.

This article supposedly explores the Kindle's ability as a game machine, but I can say that it is really exploring Kindle's ability as a vocabulary building device and not be proven wrong.


Some Questions You May Have Regarding Kindle's gaming capability

Q: Can the Kindle play Windows PC games?
A: No, its processor is not fast enough to play Windows PC games.

Q: Can the Kindle play DOS PC games which have lower system requirements?
A: No, because to play those, the Kindle will need to emulate the DOS environment for the games to run, which also need a faster processor to do, as well as better graphic processor to handle the display.

Q: Can the Kindle play online Flash games?
A: No, because Flash is a resource hog, and requires a faster cpu, as well as browser support.

Sorry to disappoint you all but the Kindle is really an eBook reader device, not meant for games. The fact that it can play some simple games is already a bonus. For those games, read the rest of this hub. :)

Built-in Free Kindle Games:


These are actually Easter Eggs, hidden in the Kindle, awaiting activation by simply pressing and holding 3 keys. These built-in games are good to let your gaming fingers express themselves especially if you're not from the US and cannot access Kindle games at the Kindle Store yet.

Minesweeper

Developer: Amazon
Price: FREE (hidden in the Kindle)

This is the built-in Minesweeper game, in the Amazon Kindle, which can be activated by pressing Alt-Shift-M.
This game was in the standard install of Windows 3.1 in 1992, and has been in every version of Windows since then. Which means I am not really excited about seeing another clone of this game. But a good game to waste 5-10 mins nonetheless.

Gomoku
Developer: Amazon
Price: FREE (hidden in the Kindle)

When you're in Minesweeper, press "G" to play Gomoku, also known as Five In A Row, a strategy board game.

Every Word

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Every WordEvery Word game play
Every Word
Every Word
Every Word game play
Every Word game play

Kindle Store Games:


Every Word
Developer: Amazon
Version: 1.1
Release Date: Sep 15, 2010
File Size: 882.5 KB
Platform: Kindle DX, Kindle 2 and higher
Price:
FREE

Make as many word as possible out of scrambled letters until you run out of time. The more words you can think of, the higher is your score. Find the longest word possible to level up. This is a fun game to improve your vocabulary.

Verdict:
User Reviews: Follow the Amazon link to see user reviews of the game. But why bother, it's FREE! So download away. ;)
Note:
If you can't access the free games from the Kindle Store, it's probably because it is not available to non-US customers yet. If so, read the section on Built-in Games.
Update: Someone claimed in a forum somewhere that if you live in Canada (and probably UK and other countries too), that you can change your "Country of residence" to USA in the 'Manage your Kindle' section, then download the games (free and non-free), then change back to your country when you are done.Give it a try if you have a problem accessing the Kindle Games. :)

Shuffled Row

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Shuffled RowShuffled Row game play
Shuffled Row
Shuffled Row
Shuffled Row game play
Shuffled Row game play

Shuffled Row
Developer: Amazon

Version: 1.0
Release Date: Aug 2, 2010
File Size: 911.9 KB

Platform: Kindle DX, Kindle 2 and higher
Price: FREE

Make as many words as possible from 60 lettered tiles. Score higher using less common letters or longer words. If the letters are not used within a predetermined time limit, they will be replaced, so you will always have to balance between playing a fast what-comes-to-mind kinda game or playing the longer words.

Verdict:
User Reviews:
Follow the Amazon link to see user reviews of the game. But why bother, it's FREE! So download away. ;)
Note: If you can't access the free games from the Kindle Store, it's probably because it is not available to non-US customers yet. If so, read the section on the Built-in Games.

Scrabble

Click thumbnail to view full-size
ScrabbleScrabble game playScrabble, on the Kindle
Scrabble
Scrabble
Scrabble game play
Scrabble game play
Scrabble, on the Kindle
Scrabble, on the Kindle

Scrabble

Developer: Electronics Arts
Version: 1.0
Release Date:
Sep 23, 2010
File Size:
598.4 kB
Platform: Kindle DX, Kindle 2 and higher
Price: USD 4.99

This is the 3rd released game, and the first Pay Game for the Kindle, developed by Electronics Arts, a 3rd party developer - the other 2 (Every Word and Shuffled Row), were Free Games developed in-house by Amazon probably as proof of concept.

You can play against the Kindle, a friend or have a solo game. There is, unfortunately, no network play for this game, not even Wi-fi. There is however, a Best Word feature, to 'help' you excel in the game.

You can also pause the game, a very handy feature when you have to attend to other things. Instant game statistics to help you track your progress is also supported by the game. The more you play, the easier it is for you to hit the double and triple word scores.

This is one of the top games in vocabulary learning, and generations have played this game in other forms, so there is really not much to add, beside saying that this is a fine game, and more addictive and better than the prior 2 free games.

Verdict:
User Reviews:
Follow the Amazon link to see user reviews of the game. ;)

More Kindle Games

Conclusion

As I am writing this, Scrabble is currently top of the Kindle Top 100 Paid Bestsellers list, and has been there for 8 days in the top 100 since its debut on Sept 23rd, 2010. Every Word and Shuffled Rows are No 1 and 2 respectively, on the Kindle Top 100 Free Bestsellers list.
This means that it is easier to move games than books. So it is not surprising that other developers like Handmark, Sonic Boom, etc, have also jumped in for a piece of the Kindle pie.

As you had seen for yourself, the games are all text-based and they are a sign that follow up releases will be more of the same. And as noted earlier, the Kindle's hardware limitation is going to restrict the kind of games that can be created for it to mainly text based ones. So for the student, rest assured, he or she can spend more time reading, and then play a game that can build up his or her vocabulary. Before long, this special diet of read-play-read play-read will help him or her to have a very competent vocabulary***. So if you are a student, this is just the kind of routine you need to be ahead in class. Which means that this makes it a great gift for the studious, the English learner, the bookworm, the voracious reader, the stay at home mom, etc, etc.

In conclusion, the Amazon Kindle is great as an ebook reader because, unlike a tablet, iPad or other UMPCs, it doesn't have good graphics capability and hence will focus you on your reading habit. Unlike the other devices, you won't waste too much of your adult life playing 3D games on this excellent device. It's price is also a steal compared to other ebook readers, tablets or iPads, which is why it is the best-selling item on the Amazon.com site for 2 years running. The latest generation, the Kindle 3, is already coming out of the Amazon Store faster than prior Kindles.

***You do know that that's tongue-in-cheek, don't you? I mean, if any one of your kids spends too much time on the Kindle, you're going to grab him by the hair and throw him or her into the street to get dirty, right? Right? ;)


2011 Kindle Calendars

More by this Author


Comments 2 comments

Christophe 5 years ago

Strimko is a sudoku variant that allows for some excellent puzzles of various sizes, and they've masterfully put them on display here. Try Strimko on Kindle today (http://www.amazon.com/Strimko/dp/B004MWM0SC)


Maximilian Buckstern 5 years ago

I interpreted the idea with playing "on the Kindle" very literally. Lately I produced a Kindle-eBook ("Fun Games Pure - Game boards") just with fields of popular board games (Chess, Nine Men's Morris, Checkers, Backgammon, Ludo, etc.). This gives the user the possibility to convert his/her Kindle at home or while traveling into a game board. Very simple. Always available. You just need to have a few small playing pieces or chessmen. Or you and your fellow players improvise. Suitable are buttons, beans, pieces of wood, paper, etc. Just anything that does not leave any dirt or scratches on the screen.

Some people think it is silly to play like this on the Kindle. Others think it's cool. :-)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working