5 casual games for designers

Computer games get a bad press – they're blotting paper for time, destructive, bad for the mind and terrible for the creative soul. That's probably true, but only if you're playing the wrong games.

Here's our collection of five casual games that will help hone your design skills, and also let you have some fun along the way.

01. Pixactly

Pixactly homescreen

Put your pixel skills to the test with Pixactly

So, you think you're a master pixels pusher? If somebody says: "draw me a box 54 by 35px", could you? Pixactly puts your intuitive feel for pixels and on-screen dimensions to the test by firing out dimensions. You're then challenged to produce rectangles with the requirement measurements. It sounds easy but it's not, and if you're hopeless, the game won't pull its punches!

02. Kern Type

Kern Type homepage

Put your kerning skills to the test with this quick-fire game

Kern Type is a fiendish game that explores the science – or black art – of kerning. Game play is simple. You're presented with a word whose kerning leaves a little to be desired. Just pick up the letters and sort out their spacing. You'll need a steady hand, a sharp eye and plenty of finesse. Each new round ushers in a different typeface. It's great fun and good practice.

03. Hex Invaders

Hex invaders homepage

Hex codes meet space invaders in this addictive game

The aliens are coming and it's your job to save the world! Hex invaders is a variation on the classic Space Invaders. As you play, the game flashes up a colour's hex code and you're tasked with taking aim at the invader whose colour corresponds with the code. Beware: This game is fiendishly addictive.

04. The Bézier Game

The Bézier Game homepage

Learn how to use Photoshop's Pen Tool with this gentle game

The Bézier Game is slightly more gentle. It's designed to help designers master Photoshop's Pen tool. As you play, the game displays shapes and you need to redraw them using only the prescribed number of clicks or nodes. As each turn progresses, the shapes become more complex. You'll even be introduced to keyboard shortcuts.

05. I Shot the Serif

I Shot The Serif homepage

Take aim on serif fonts with this shooter

To be a winner at I Shot The Serif you need to take aim at the serifs and leave the sans typefaces alone. It sounds easy but, given the time constraints, it's surprisingly difficult. If you're a winner, you'd be promoted from junior, through middle-weight and hopefully right up to senior.

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.