I'm looking for games like Progress Quest and Idle RPG that contain very little interaction with the player, but can't figure out a genre to search for. What is the genre called?

I've tried "Zero-player games", but that term seems to be occupied by something else.

  • There's no standard genre name for this type of game yet I don't think, but I'd call it an inaction game, passive game or something along those lines. Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 16:45
  • 4
    – bwarner
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 18:14
  • @bwarner normal screensavers can hardly be called games, while PQ and IRPG can, even if everyone doesn't find them interesting.
    – Astrid
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 18:50
  • I wouldn't go so far as to say screensavers can't be games. It gave me an idea for an edit to my answer :)
    – agent86
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 22:09
  • If it were me, I'd call them idling games. That's what I call my IRPG successor, anyway.
    – Seiyria
    Commented Oct 12, 2014 at 14:06

3 Answers 3


There's not really a "genre label" for this kind of gaming, simply because non-interactive games aren't much of a game genre. Most of the ones that exist are either silly idling games (Idle RPG/Progress Quest/Idle 2), bots (like this one that plays a roguelike by itself), or more AI experiment than game (Conway's Game of Life, for instance).

I think that "Zero Player Games" or "bot game" is about the best you can do. I did find some interesting articles when I searched for "games that play themselves."

There's also a subgenre of the strategy genre where you'll find games where you can only interact indirectly with the game world, with games like Populous or Evil Genius. This subgenre is generally called "Artificial Life" or "God Game".

Some games are capable of playing themselves, in a demo or "attract" mode. Arcade games are especially fond of this, as it attracts people to the cabinet and shows them what they might get for dropping in a quarter.

If we consider things like ProgressQuest games, then screensavers might be considered non-interactive games as well (or in reverse, non-interactive games might be screensavers). There was one screensaver for Win95 that played a little maze, for instance. Of course, there's also the iconic After Dark package that not only featured a number of things you might consider to be non-interactive games, but also some screensavers that were fully playable, like Lunatic Fringe.

Part of the problem is that we already have many non-interactive forms of digital entertainment. We give them many terms, but one is "movie." You could consider a movie like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World to be a "game that plays itself." The protagonist even levels up, has extra lives, and fights a final boss. Or, take the movie Clue, which went so far as to include multiple endings, and each time you went to see it there was a chance you'd see a different one. (I realize that's tangential, but it's sort of an interesting aside to your question.)

"Non Games" is a similar term, but it's more for games that have no goal, like Mario Paint. These games ride the line between game and application.


On Kongregate, at least, they are called idle games.

  • Read that as "indie" the first time. o_o Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 16:58

I believe that this kind of program would fall under the classification of a "simulation" - leave out any mention of "game" and you'll be more likely to find them in a search.

  • I can find neither IRPG nor PQ with such a search =/
    – Astrid
    Commented Dec 10, 2011 at 8:28
  • Idle RPG will typically be categorised as an RPG from its title, and PQ is a joke about Everquest, hence it will typically be categorised as "Humour" or "Parody". I don't believe these categorisations will necessarily be applied to similar games. Commented Dec 10, 2011 at 21:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .