Computer games sometimes come under fire for being too crass and vulgar, or for "dumbing down" gamers who play them. This may be an accurate description of some video games, while other games are actually designed from the outset to challenge a gamer's mind and force him to think about his actions beyond just the next trigger pull. These are the puzzle games.
Point-and-Click Adventure Games were among the first graphics-based computer games ever released. The first point-and-click adventure game was "Kings Quest," released by Roberta Williams and Sierra Interactive. These games emphasized inventory-based puzzles -- "Combine X with Y to achieve result Z" -- and demanded that gamers solve these puzzles with wit and intelligence rather than fast reflexes or twitch gaming skills. These games seemed to die out in the late 1990s during the rise of "Quake" and the first-person shooter genre, but have since seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to Take-2 Interactive's resurrection of the "Sam and Max" series and the venerable "Monkey Island" series.
Build a Machine
"The Incredible Machine" was another of Sierra Interactive's inventions. The game presented gamers with a simple objective -- such as "light the candle" -- and then charged them with doing so using a variety of machine pieces and tools. A user might, for instance, use a magnifying glass and a flashlight to light the candle with focused light. This one game spawned an entire genre of "build the machine to complete the puzzle" games that continued well into the 21st century.
The very first puzzle games had no graphics whatsoever. They were, instead, interactive stories in which you, the player, had to solve puzzles through interacting with the environment in predetermined manners. Perhaps the most well-known of these games -- so much so that its name has situated itself into almost all corners of pop culture -- was the original "Zork." "Zork" was not only the first text-based adventure game, it was the very first computer-exclusive game ever released, and is often credited with jump-starting the entire PC-gaming industry.
Flash-based puzzle games are a relatively new phenomenon in the computer puzzle game category. These games are typically published for free by amateur programmers, and can range in size from just a few hundred kilobytes to tens of megabytes. They can encompass all types of puzzles, from point-and-click adventures to physics-based puzzles and even to some psychological thrillers as well. Flash puzzle games can be found almost everywhere online; a basic Internet search will bring up dozens of websites dedicated to Flash media.