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Social Distancing On a Dime? Here Are 7 Free Gaming Resources For Gamers of All Ages

So many games, so much time.

With social distancing keeping everyone at home, be it from school or work, chances are, you’ve got a lot of free time on your hands. For gamers, this is no big deal — after all, how many of us have joked for ages that we’d like to take off a full month just to get through our backlogs?

For parents, however, this may prove to be tricky — if you are stuck at home, chances are you still have work to do, so it’s not like this is a complete vacation. It’d be great if the kids had stimulating activities, or at least weren’t distracting you from paying the bills while everyone has to batten down the hatches, so video games are likely on the table. On the other hand, most parents have spent so much time trying to keep kids off video games that they’re not sure what to do now that they’re cooped up in the same house with them for the foreseeable future. And while it’s nice to think that kids will make paper airplanes and doodle in coloring books, that can’t possibly last until April.

Unfortunately, it’s highly likely money’s a little tight now since everyone’s spent their monthly food budget up front, so it’s not like parents can run out and buy consoles and games they don’t have to keep their kids from going stir crazy. Is there anything to be done for free?

Yes. Yes there is. If you’re a parent (or gamer) looking for ways to keep yourself entertained for free during this prolonged social distancing period, here are seven different resources for gamers of all ages.

1. Epic Games

epic games

If you’ve been sleeping on the Epic Games Launcher, now’s the time to stop doing that. Parents probably know all about Epic Games, as they’re the company behind the ultra-hit title Fortnite; what parents may not know, however, is that the company has created a platform for video game developers to offer their games to players. Right now, the marketplace in the lead for all things PC gaming is Steam, but Epic Games is looking to carve out their own piece of the pie. To do so, they are building up gamers’ libraries, game by game, by giving away games for free.

There’s no catch, either — these aren’t free-to-play games where the base game is free with paid content later. Nope, these are FULL GAMES that are on offer for free that would normally cost money on Steam or other platforms. Each week, gamers can download 1 – 3 select games for free and play them forever. They’ve been doing this for a little over a year now and intend to keep this program going for the rest of 2020 — I personally have been taking advantage of this for the past few months and have amassed 42 free games thus far.

You will need a PC in order to take advantage of this program, and you will have to download the Epic Games Launcher (free) and create an account (also free), but after that, you’re good to go on collecting your completely free games!

For more information, go here.

2. Classic Reload

Have you ever reminisced about the games from your childhood? Oregon Trail, Prince of Persia, and Commander Keen were some golden games from yesteryear; how sad would it be to never introduce your kids to some pretty special memories of days gone by?

Well, now’s your chance — ClassicReload.com features a library of over 6,000+ retro games from the 80s and 90s. Completely free and in-browser, you don’t even need to sign up for an account to take advantage of this insanely cool collection. As long as you have an internet connection and a working computer, you’re all set to enjoy almost every retro game under the sun. If you can think it, it’s probably there, so long as it’s old enough; PS2 era and beyond need not apply.

The best part? Not only is there a crazy range of games, from educational toddler games that don’t require reading like Mixed-Up Mother Goose and Mickey’s Runaway Zoo to the genre-defining masterpieces like Sid Meier’s Civilization and Wolfenstein 3D, but you, the parent, know which ones are age-appropriate for your children since YOU grew up playing them! That familiarity with content within games means no second-guessing what your kids are up to, as you yourself played through the same titles they’re now enjoying for free.

For more information, go here.

3. Itch.io

If gaming channels on YouTube are on replay in your home, chances are your kids are actually very familiar with the free offerings on Itch.io. Channels like Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, and the rest constantly showcase free games crafted by indie developers from all over the world via this platform. Although there is a launcher available to download, like Epic Games, Itch.io gives players the ability to download the program straight from the website, so creating an account isn’t actually necessary.

There is a caveat when it comes to Itch.io — there are adult games aplenty on the site with filtering being lackadaisical at best. I have siblings and nephews 15 and younger and I’d hesitate to allow any of them completely unrestricted access to the platform. This isn’t to say they can’t play any of the games available on the site, as there are TONS of great games that are indeed age-appropriate (Thirteen and a Half Cats and Pet the Pup at the Party immediately come to mind); instead, it’s more that you’ll have to do a little bit of research on each title before letting your kid loose. Simply googling the name of the game and reading a review ought to do it, and if there isn’t anything available, consider passing unless it’s ABUNDANTLY CLEAR it’s age-apprpropriate.

What’s great about Itch.io in comparison to other platforms is the sheer variety of PC games available for free with the added bonus of many of them being available for Mac, so if you’re more of an Apple user, this may be your go to platform for free computer games.

For more information, go here.

4. Internet Arcade

Another in-browser resource like Classic Reload, Internet Arcade offers over 1,700+ retro video games from the 70s through the 90s. Unlike its PC-focused compatriot, Internet Arcade brings retro games more commonly found in arcades from decades past. That’s right — the games you and your parents spent all those hard-earned quarters on are now available at your fingertips for free.

Signing up for an account isn’t necessary, and since it’s all in-browser, all you’ll need is a reliable internet connection and a computer. And while it’s great to introduce your kids to some of the games from your own childhood, chances are you’ll spend plenty of time finally beating the titles that gave you grief back in the day. Or maybe you’ll hop around from title to title, at long last getting a chance to play those random cabinets you never got to try. With titles like Out Run, Paperboy, Gauntlet, and Joust, the retro gaming fan not-so deep down will be delighted with the veritable treasure trove of options available.

Perhaps the best part about Internet Arcade isn’t just that there are plenty of video games on offer, as it’s part of the larger archive.org website, a “non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.” So after you’re tired of beating baddies all day, you can totally unwind by watching the ultra-classic Charlie Chaplin movies or forgotten Nickelodeon favorites like KaBlam. It’s all-too easy to get lost for hours on the completely free site, and with the next two weeks looking free of social obligations, you have all the time in the world to take advantage of it.

For more information, go here.

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Heather Johnson
Born at a very young age; self-made thousandaire. Recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend things. Covered in cat hair. Probably the best sleeper in the world. Still haven't completed the civil war quest in Skyrim but I'm kind of okay with that. Too rad to be sad. Follow me on Twitter @heatherjrock :D

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