“Browser games” is a term for games on the Internet that can be played through an ordinary web browser. Their “heyday” was probably the 2000s, as in the 2010s mobile games came into existence and captured a lot of the market of “people who want something casual to play in short bursts in between other things”. That said, there are still a lot of browser games out there, and a lot of people playing them.
The term is extremely broad, of course, and there’s pretty much nothing unifying about browser games at all except for where you can play them. They range from quick puzzle games (like Wordle or Web Sudoku), to recreations of turn-based card and board games, to flash games and their HTML5 successors (which can be arcade games, platformers, racing games…), to idle/incremental games like Cookie Clicker or Melvor Idle, to interactive fiction and turn-based RPGs, to “massively multiplayer” games with in-game economies. (This is not an exhaustive list, and neither are the categories mutually exclusive.)
Some of the browser games that I, personally, have played for extended periods of time include:
- Neopets: A virtual petsite, with loads of “games within the game” (flash games, PHP games, even two entire turn-based RPGs called NeoQuest & NeoQuest II). I played this originally between 2002–5, and again as a nostalgic thing between 2016–2019.
- Gaia Online: This was largely oriented around a big forum, but there were minigames (like a fishing one, and one where you walked around a map) and an in-game economy based mostly around equippables for your avatar. I played it around 2004–5.
- Kingdom of Loathing: A text-based, turn-based RPG which is still going today.
Some more that I’ve had recommended to me, but haven’t tried yet, are:
Blog Posts On This Topic
- Three (Very Different) Browser Games: About Kingdom of Loathing, Neopets Classic and Cookie Clicker, all of which I was playing (or had been playing recently) at the time.