Open source gaming

Gaming has never been a strong point in the open source world, but gradually things are getting better and more open source games are emerging for Linux, as well as other non-open source platforms. Here we look at some of the better open source games, most of which run on multiple platforms.


Save the penguins! Pingus is a simple but engaging game in which you have to lead a troop of penguins across hazardous wastes to the safety of the South Pole. It’s a lot like the old Lemmings game which was hugely popular. Pingus runs on Linux, Windows and Mac machines and currently has 22 playable levels, including a few secret ones. A good way to while away a lazy day.


SuperTux is a classic SuperMario-inspired jump-n-run game. Naturally the key character is Tux, the Linux mascot, who braves various obstacles and aggressors, all the while collecting objects to boost his energy. Once in, it’s easy to become hooked. It also runs on Windows, Linux and Mac.


Both engaging and frustrating, XMoto is a 2D motocross game that runs on most platforms. The object is simple: ride the bike from one end to the other of a pre-set course. Which is easy enough in the early levels but becomes frustratingly difficult later on when you need to have some real bike-handling skills. Once you start it’s tough to stop.


Another racing game, this time in cars. Torcs (The Open Racing Car Simulator) is getting better all the time. There are dozens of race tracks to choose from (on-road and off-road) and an equally large number of cars to choose from. Multiplayer is possible, as are joysticks which add a little more excitement to the game. Like most games here, Torcs runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.


Remember SimCity? LinCity-NG is, as the name suggests, a Linux version of the same. The “NG” version of this is an improved version of the original LinCity, and has you building out a city while making the most of available resources. The idea in LinCity-NG is to build a sustainable city or be forced to evacuate your citizens by spaceship. There are Linux, Windows and Mac versions of the game available.


Nexuiz is a first-person shooter game, originally released as open source software back in 2005. Using a version of the Quake engine, Nexuiz is regularly listed as being one of the best examples of open source gaming with excellent graphics and game-play. The game runs on Linux, Windows and Mac and includes multiple weapons, many built-in maps as well as community-contributed maps.


As the name suggests, FreeCiv is inspired by the classic Civilization game. A strategy game, the player must lead their “civilisation” from the stone age to the space age. There is also a FreeCol, a clone of Colonization, in which the player has to manage their colonies and resources. Both are long-term games that you can start today and end weeks later.


SuperTuxKart is inspired by, but not the same as, Mario Kart. It’s a simple but engaging game that kids and adults will like: race your cartoon character around various courses, picking up rewards along the way. It’s not complicated and runs on Linux, Windows and Mac.

Battle for Wesnoth

Battle for Wesnoth is a classic turn-based fantasy war game. In the game you need you need to build up your troops, forming them into lean fighting machines as you battle all-comers in one of the many built-in situations. There are hundreds of types of units to include in your armies as well as more than a dozen different races and factions. It’s a classic game that draws you in. Battle for Wesnoth runs on Linux, Windows and Mac.


Based on Cube game engine, AssaultCube is a multiperson first-person shooter that runs on Linux, Windows and Mac. AssaultCube is designed primarily as an online game but there is also a single-player mode. AssaultCube is not the most impressive game when it comes to graphics and plot but it doesn’t use much in the way of resources so pretty much any machine should be able to play the game.

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Open source gaming