photo by Brooke White

Senior Haley White tries to play Papa’s Wingeria on coolmathgames.com but finds the game no longer works after the discontinuation of Adobe Flash Player.

Game boy and Tamagotchi entertained users for hours throughout the late 80s and early 90s, but the arrival of more advanced computers and tablets ultimately resulted in the death of these devices. Instead of coming home to play Tetris, students returned to their desktops to play free online games like Papa’s Pizzeria. As technology advanced, the cycle repeats. 

Free Flash games are being phased out, replaced by those more expensive and less exciting. These games should not be forgotten as their unique and innovative ideas helped define a generation with extraordinary online content.

Students share fond memories of playing online games in computer labs when they were younger, but now the sites go unnoticed and forgotten. Until brought up in conversation it is easy to forget how influential these sites were as almost everyone played some variation of the biggest websites. Some of the big names included: Y8.com, GirlsGoGames.com, and Kizi.com. Each offered a wide array of games at no cost, making them ideal for children. The most remarkable one was coolmathgames.com. 

In its prime, coolmathgames.com was a savior to children everywhere. The word “math” in the title had teachers convinced it was acceptable for students to play during school hours, even though the games students played were not at all math-oriented. Feeling like you were getting away with having fun during school hours just increased the appeal of these games as they were a well-needed break after spending hours on rigorous coursework. The format of the site with its primary color template and A-Z organization of hundreds of games made searching for the best ones exciting. The site is still currently available but some of the more intricate games such as Papa’s Bakeria are currently unplayable after the death of Adobe Flash.

Because of the new standard for gaming, old sites are dying out. The death of Adobe Flash player, the program that ran most of the games, seemed like a tremendous loss at first. Flash player is already six feet under as of Dec. 31 and is going to be replaced by programs such as HTML5. Majority of, but lots of the games are still playable on Flashpoint, a web preservation project that collected and saved thousands of the old games and animations created by Blue Maxima. This collection of games shows the efforts of people that still understand the importance of free Flash games, but as they continue to regress into large databases they will become less accessible to the average user.

Having access to hundreds of minigames across various sites was one of the greatest benefits of our generation. Now the world has shifted as kids favor large video game titans like Fortnite, Minecraft and Animal Crossing. Their popularity is not unprecedented as they are constantly in development and extremely complex, but the old school games provided greater accessibility and ease of operation. 

In addition to the death of the programs that helped run old online games, free sites that had a large impact on development are also being tossed aside. The drop in users has led to the untimely closure of both Club Penguin, which ended in early 2017, and Fantage, which ended in 2018. Future generations will no longer be acquainted with the world of Holly Hobbie or Webkinz as it is being replaced with games like Demon’s Souls, only playable on the $500 PS5. The high price tag associated with new games is flashy and exciting but fans of the old games are working hard to try and revive the dying through both flashpoint and saving websites like Club Penguin, which is now available as Club Penguin rewritten.

Playing FireBoy and Watergirl or Papa’s Cupcakeria is a rite of passage that everyone should experience without having to go through the archive databases. While a lot of the sites are still running, they are being picked off one by one. Nostalgia is guaranteed after visiting any of these sites. The box formatting and bright colors turned the time just scrolling through the site enjoyable in itself. Logging in to play a few rounds of Run or take care of your Neopet may be what prevents regret when they are gone forever.