Simple programming games you can play on Steam

Simple programming games you can play on Steam

If you’re a gamer who loves a good logic puzzle, happy to try and fail your way to a satisfying solution, programming games are for you. This niche genre of video games has found a home in Steam’s expansive library, and playing them is a great way to learn new skills and fundamentals, especially if you’re looking for more exciting ways to practice coding.

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While some programming games emphasize that no prior coding experience is necessary, others are more challenging than they appear. Whether you’re interested in improving your problem-solving skills, brushing up on the basics, or exploring the world of programming for the first time, these games guarantee a beginner-friendly, fun experience that will have you thinking like a programmer in no time.

9 7 billion people

7 Billion Humans puzzle room with humans, floor boss and code

7 Billion Humans is a fun puzzle game and a great introduction to programming logic for any curious gamer. The game is set in a world where robots have ensured that humans never have to work, which sounds great, but humans still demand well-paid jobs. Of course, the robots are happy with an office building teeming with puzzles and data cubes to keep everyone occupied.

The game teaches you to code line by line, and gives you a series of commands that you can use when writing the program. You want to assign actions to several people in the same room, task them with shredding data cubes or organize them in the right order. Don’t worry if you need to debug your code or ask your floor manager for advice. Asking for help is part of the learning process!

8 Silicon zeros

Silicon Zeroes puzzle screen with messy office desk

Silicon Zeroes lets you travel back to the beginning of modern computer design, which took place in the 60s inside Silicon Valley’s very first startups. If you’re interested in learning about hardware design and solving logic problems, this game is definitely for you, and by the end you’ll definitely know how to build a fully functional CPU.

While Silicon Zeroes introduces some pretty complicated concepts, you don’t need to be a computer geek to have fun. The beginning slowly introduces you to components and basic concepts, preparing you to solve more complex puzzles later. It’s always satisfying to reach those “aha!” moment, but you’re never forced to pop a puzzle if you’re particularly stuck; puzzle will save your progress so you can work on another until you’re ready to come back to it with fresh eyes.

7 Autonauts

Autonaut's farm, home, worker fines and colonists

Don’t let the adorable low-poly graphics fool you, Autonauts is an automation programming game with tons of depth that combines elements from farming sims and resource management titles. The premise involves building your colony using robots called workerbots to build, craft, fish and more to keep the colonists happy.

Automation involves using a visual programming language similar to Scratch. Instead of writing lines of code, you can program your bots by teaching them what to do. For example, you can show your bot how to chop down a tree, and the game will fill in a script specially made for just that. It is as simple as it sounds. You also have the freedom to edit your scripts and add parameters that take your code to the next level.

6 While it is true: Learn

While the True Learn puzzle screen on the left, main character and cat are sitting at the desk on the right

Parents, teachers, and novice programmers looking for a fun, easy introduction to logical thinking and coding concepts will love While True: Learn, a puzzle simulation game about building a cat-to-human speech recognition system. You play as a machine learning specialist whose cat is very talented at coding, maybe even better than you, but you can’t work together if “meow” is your only form of communication.

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No coding experience is necessary to enjoy this sweet, charming title, as the puzzles are designed to be educational. It’s a fun way to get comfortable with the building blocks of machine learning, and you’ll enjoy simulating life as a freelance data scientist as you accept contracts, earn money, and upgrade your hardware. Even better, you get to buy fancy outfits for your cat!

5 Robo Instructus

Robo Instructus code screen and red robot in icy level

Write, debug and test your own code to help your robot navigate the frozen planet of Bright in Robo Instructus, a programming puzzle game inspired by real programming languages. It’s a great title for people who have never tried programming, and it also offers fun challenges that will test your problem-solving skills.

Like most beginner-friendly programming games, you’ll start with the basics, navigate the world with simple gesture commands, and as you complete levels, you’ll learn more complex ways to code. In addition, there are multiple ways to solve each puzzle, giving you countless opportunities to experiment and optimize.

4 Code romantic

Code Romantic Mina talks to painting by Leon

Often, programming games favor puzzles over stories, which can occasionally feel more like work than play. Well, Code Romantic is a visual novel that strikes a wonderful balance by blending post-apocalyptic storytelling, educational coding mechanics, and a watercolor art style to create a charming and unique approach to learning C# code.

You will play as Mina Lovelace, who joins humanity’s last attempt to hack the robot army that threatens the world. But the biggest threat to Mina is her heart as she tries not to embarrass herself in front of her childhood crush and coding partner, Leon. You get to experience their love story across 14 chapters while solving puzzles using real code and concepts, designed by the developers to be equivalent to an entry-level computer science course.

3 A dreamer

A Dreamer developer works in the office on the left, the code screen on the right

Game development is undoubtedly a labor of love, with developers often dedicating years to creating something fun, and burnout is a common roadblock along the journey. One Dreamer is a story-rich adventure that follows the life of a game developer named Frank, who is deeply in debt and nowhere near completing his dream game. Struggling through creative burnout, he needs help rediscovering his love for video games.

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Reprogram objects, fix bugs and solve coding puzzles during your mission to help Frank fulfill his dream. The game’s programming language is a simplified version of C#. You just click on the commands to add them to your script, which is great practice for getting comfortable with the basics. Perhaps the best part is exploring and editing code for almost every interactable object you come across in One Dreamer’s 2.5D pixel art world. From turning on a coffee machine to unlocking a door, you’ll find lots of fun ways to use your new coding skills.

2 Manufactoria 2022

Manufactoria 2022 Stampbots level with instructions and grid

If you loved the original Manufactoria from gaming’s Adobe Flash days, you’ll probably get a burst of nostalgia with this sequel. Manufactoria 2022 is a colorful, light, open-ended puzzle game that teaches you how to build assembly lines by programming conveyors and machines.

You will definitely find your mind challenged in satisfying ways across the hundreds of puzzles at your disposal. Light-hearted writing is present in every level, wondering about robots stealing jobs or wondering if robots can really create art. Even if you don’t write lines of code, you’ll learn the basics of Turing machines as you stamp robots to program their movements, place pipes on your grid, and even deprogram robots by removing commands from their ribbons.

1 Opus Magnum

Opus Magnum chapter screen and puzzle screen

Opus Magnum is a captivating open-ended puzzle game, and it’s the most beginner-friendly title from Zachtronics, an independent development studio that built a legacy of creating amazing puzzle titles, encouraging creativity and helping you think more like a programmer with every problem you solve.

A mix of science and magic, the fantasy premise of Opus Magnum has you playing as an aspiring alchemist. You will master alchemical engineering using the Transmutation Engine – a powerful tool that creates remedies, gems, weapons and poisons. From programmable arms to base components and customizable tracks, you’ll design and build machines with free rein to come up with your own solutions, making the machine as inefficient or optimized as you like.

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