It may come as a shock to some of you that not everyone has yet made the move to becoming a smartphone owner. Whether through choice, availability, or budget, many people still use feature phones and are happy doing so. For them their phones are mainly for calling and texting. And that suits them just fine.
Even those who do have smartphones don’t necessarily want to be playing Angry Birds, Draw Something, or any of the other mobile games available in app form. Thankfully there are a host of texting games you can play instead. Most of them are very simple in nature. These can (with unlimited text bundles) provide free fun for playing with family and friends.
What follows are 10+ of the best texting games you can play right now without needing to download or install anything.
As a writer I tell stories for fun. But even those who find it difficult to create worlds, characters, and plots by themselves could gain enjoyment from this simple texting game.
With Story Builder, one of you begins the story by texting a sentence to the other. The other person then text the second sentence in the story back to the first. Slowly but surely the two of you build a story over the course of several texts.
Variations include sentences containing a certain number of words or characters, or even sentences of exactly 140 characters. Although the latter is extremely tough to tackle, as anyone who uses Twitter will attest.
This is the classic 20 Questions that originated in the U.S. and spawned radio and television shows. The concept of this game is elegantly simple yet it requires a degree of intelligence to succeed at it.
One of you thinks of an object or person, while the other fires questions at them via text message. Your ‘Yes/No’ responses help the guesser narrow down the possibilities until they can make an educated guess as to what was being thought of.
Variations include limiting the object being thought of to a particular genre, or increasing/decreasing the number of questions allowed to be asked prior to a guess being made.
This is the classic I Spy, a game that has been a favorite of families for generations. I whiled away many a long car journey as a child playing endless rounds of this. And the blind version played by text message is just as much fun.
Begin by telling your opponent where you are, to at least give them a fighting chance. Then look around your environment until your mind’s eye fixes on something in particular. Your opponent then has to guess what it is you have spied, with only the first letter of the object to guess from.
Variations include giving clues after each negative response to a wrong guess, or limiting the number of guesses allowed.
Assuming you’re not exclusively interested in types of music that don’t contain any lyrics, you’ll know certain lines from certain songs. Whether because of an emotional attachment or simply because they sound good together, most people have been affected by song lyrics in some way.
The Song Lyrics game plays on that by having one person quote lines from a song to the other via text. The other person then has to guess the song the lyrics are from. It helps if this is played with someone you’re close to or who you share similar music tastes with.
Variations include classic lines from movies or plots from games. Failure to guess correctly could mean having to phone up and sing the chorus of the song to your opponent.
Abbreviations are everywhere, from company names to phrases shortened for ease of use. It’s even possible to abbreviate your entire life by describing what you are up to with just the first letters of each word in that description.
To play Abbreviations, one of you abbreviates what you’re up to – example: “In a coffee shop in town” becomes ‘IACSIT’ – and the other sets about trying to unabbreviate your short sentence back to its original form. Be prepared for some rude replies.
Variations include giving more than just the first letter of each word, and abbreviating something other than your current activity. Such as what you think of you truly think of the person you are playing against.
We all build lists – from chores for the day to aims in life, from groceries to buy to gadgets we want to buy in the future. When turned into a game, building lists can be a lot of fun, especially by text.
List Builder is a competitive game in which each player takes it in turn to name something belonging to a particular genre. This could include capital cities, actors from a certain series of movies, or anything else your mind can conjure up.
Variations include going through the alphabet one letter at a time, or requiring the next answer to start with the same letter the last answer ended with. The winner is the last person to successfully add to the list.
Where Am I?
The very reason we need mobile phones is because we’re not always at home. Which makes this game a perfect one to play using mobile devices.
With Where Am I?, each player takes it in turn to describe one feature of their surroundings, while the other tries to guess where they are. You can make it as easy or as hard as you like by varying the level of detail you give to your opponent.
Variations include limiting it to a house, with the room you’re in being the correct answer, or asking which shop in town you are in. You could also change it to Who Am I With? and describe the person or people who are there with you instead.
Kiss, Marry, Kill
You may know Kiss, Marry, Kill as something else. The Kiss, for instance, may be a little more intense than just a peck on the cheek. However, the basic concept is the same, and is fun as long as no offense is taken by the answers given.
One person names three people, be they celebrities or individuals you both know, and asks the question, “Kiss, Marry, Kill?” The other then has to determine which of the three they would kiss, which they would marry, and which they would kill. All in jest, you understand.
Variations include dropping certain names into the mix you know will upset your friend. Or changing the question entirely.
I sometimes daydream, especially in the shower. At these quiet moments What If? scenarios can pop into my brain, and I spend the next few minutes working out which option I would choose in that scenario. Which is perfect fodder for a texting game.
One of you texts the other a What If? scenario and asks what they would do in that situation. There are no right or wrong answers, but it’s not only fun to see the responses given, it can also give you an insight into your friend or family member’s outlook on life.
Variations include leaving the question open-ended with any answer possible, or giving multiple choice answers and forcing the other person to choose from one of those.
I’m a big fan of quizzes, usually of the pub variety. Partly because of the company, partly because of the consumption of alcohol, partly because it’s sometimes nice to show off my knowledge of certain subjects.
In the form of a texting game, Simple Quiz requires one of you to text the other a general knowledge question. The other person then has to try to give the correct answer, or if they’re a little too dumb for that, the funniest joke answer imaginable.
Variations include switching this to a test of web browsing skills (for those with smartphones) as they try to find the answer online in the shortest time possible.
These texting games range from the very simple to the more involved. But they’re all supremely playable between two people with phones capable of sending SMS texts. With 140 characters at a time you can have a fun back-and-forth between you and a friend or family member.
These are 10+ texting games to play with friends, but I know for sure there are more out there just waiting to be discovered. If you have devised a texting game that has provided you with hours (or even minutes) of entertainment then please let us know in the comments section below.
Image Credits: Jhaymesiviphotography, Laura, Alexander Henning Drachmann, Harald Hoyer, Michael Coghlan, Quinn Dombrowski, Travis Swicegood, Steve Cadman, Jeremy Vandel,, James Cridland