The goal of Minesweeper is to uncover all the squares on a grid that do not contain mines without being "blown up" by clicking on a square with a mine underneath. The location of the mines is discovered through a logical process (but that sometimes results in ambiguity).
Clicking on the game board will reveal what is hidden underneath the chosen square or squares (a large number of blank squares [bordering 0 mines] may be revealed in one go if they are adjacent to each other). Some squares are blank while others contain numbers (from 1 to 8), with each number being the number of mines adjacent to the uncovered square.
To help the player avoid hitting a mine, the location of a suspected mine can be marked by flagging it with the right mouse button. The game is won once all blank or numbered squares have been uncovered by the player without hitting a mine; any remaining mines not identified by flags are automatically flagged by the computer. However, in the event that a game is lost and the player had mistakenly flagged a safe square, that square will either appear with a red X, or else a red X covering the mine (both denoting the square as safe). The game board comes in three set sizes with a predetermined number of mines: "beginner", "intermediate", and "expert", although a "custom" option is available as well.
In early versions of the game, a cheat code let players peek beneath the tiles.
By the year 2000, the game had been given the name of Flower Field instead of Minesweeper in some translations of Windows 2000 (like the Italian version), featuring flowers instead of mines. Flower Field's gameplay was otherwise unchanged, as was the executable file name.