Sleep Is Death

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Sleep Is Death (Geisterfahrer)
Genresmultiplayer, RPG
Latest releasev16  (Announcement)
Release dateNovember 15th, 2010
Code licensePublic domain
Media licensePublic domain

Sleep Is Death aka Geisterfahrer is a two-player RPG game written by Jason Rohrer. It is Rohrer's seventh game. Sleep is Death has the rare distinction of being one of the most successful commercial game in all free and open source gaming history. In addition, the game was public domain from the very beginning. The source code is available on the homepage, so this is free software.


Sleep Is Death is a bi-directional story telling game between two people. One player plays the main character, while another is the controller. The controller provides the graphics, musics, and the reactions of the other characters.[1] Each player has 30 seconds to react, though the time limit is not hardcoded.

The end result is a story flipbook that the player playing the main character can upload to the web. The resources of the controller are also automatically copied to the player's resource directory.


Sleep Is Death is commissioned for Art History of Game symposium sponsored by Georgia Tech and Ivan Allen College.[2] In addition, it was made possible by patron Jeff Robert. The game itself is downloadable for a fee.


People who pre-ordered the game for $9.00 US before April 9th, 2010, received two codes to download two copies of the game beginning April 9th.

Those who pay $14.00 after that date, will get double downloads beginning April 16th, 2010. However, the price was eventually changed to “whatever you can afford to pay for it.”

On , the author announced Amazing stories contest, with a free extra download code to be given to everyone whose story meets the criteria of "an amazing story", and $200 as a prize for up to five of the very best stories.[3]

On , v14 was released.[4]

On , a bugfix release v14b.

On , v15 candidate was announced.[5]

On May 28th, v15 was released. [6]

On June 10th, v15b was released, with input of accented letters fixed.[7]

On November 15th, 2010, v16 was released.[8]

Commercial Success[edit]

Reportedly, 4000 copies of Sleep is Death has been sold as of April 30th, 2010, making 43,000 US dollars in revenue for the developer. This enables Jason Rohrer and his family to live entirely on this income for two years.[9]

Critical receptions[edit]

The game is widely covered by the gaming media before its release. Some have in depth preview of the game like and[1][10] Many of the preview features stories played by the author and Rohrer.

PC Gamer UK gave Sleep is Death 90/100, and also making the game an Editor's Choice in the June 2010 magazine. Gamer Node gave the game 5 out of 5 although the reviewer felt that reviewing the game is like trying to review Dragon and Dungeon, or campire tales, because of the game's extreme open nature.[11]


A community arose around this game to facilitate game sessions, upload stories, share resources, knowledge, and on occasion mods.


External links[edit]


  • Sleep Is Death Stories - a flip book hosting. (Archive link)
  • sidtube - game matchmaking service, IRC, forums, story hosting, and resource pak sharing (Archive link, site is now defunct)