Premium and Libre games

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For Make the Day Against DRM a day for freedom I wanted a link to high quality free-as-in-freedom games (proprietary games are often DRM-encumbered). I found and used the FreeGameDev list of complete open source games:

Polished open source games that can be called complete deserve special mention but are hard to find. This list fills that gap.
Games that have significant gameplay value - such as a storyline, involved exploration, or significant multi-player value.

The list probably has lots of overlap with the more frequently edited list of open source video games on English Wikipedia.

I’m almost totally ignorant about gaming (I’m not proud of this and hope to correct it in the fullness of time), but at the surface it appears there’s a substantial (but probably tiny relative to the gaming industry) free gaming community, which the various sites in the FreeGameDev network give some sense of. OpenGameArt is the only site I had ever looked at before, and only because some colleagues helped run its Liberated Pixel Cup. The FreeGameDev network is pretty interesting to me, beyond satisfying my need for a free games link for a DayAgainstDRM post (the reasons will justify posting this in the movies category).

Games are sometimes mentioned as indirect competition that will “kill hollywood”, that is take over from movies as the medium occupying the commanding heights of culture. If there is a chance of that, then commons-based production of games is extra important.

The libre gaming community is clearly ahead of the libre movies community, both in output and community (if there are any websites dedicated to libre movies generally, I’d love to know about them). But (and I may very well be missing something) it doesn’t appear to me that the libre gaming community has figured out how to compete on distribution and marketing. For libre and premium video, Netflix is an obvious thing to copy and compete with. I imagine (with no direct experience) that Steam is the analogous proprietary gaming thing. Is anyone building a libre gaming distribution and marketing platform with the audacious aim of competing with Steam?

The list of “complete open source games” and its sense of what should be included is very analogous to what I’m collecting in a list of libre and premium video (please help; one way to help is by crowdfunding more libre and premium video, e.g. 2 campaigns now underway, for Organg-U and ZeMarmot). However I see building this list as a first step toward “consolidat[ing] an audience for open movies, a first step in addressing the yawning gap in distribution and marketing for open, even where open production is feasible” rather than just sitting as one of many wiki pages produced by a community.

The reason movies are an area of interest for WIFO is that they are one of the two signal cases for IP in contemporary debate (drugs being the other). Games aren’t, because they haven’t yet displaced movies as the dominant cultural artifact, and perhaps won’t be, because they are often services, so IP is not nearly as relevant for recouping large up-front capital costs. But the proprietary game industry does have an MPAA-equivalent, so don’t count it out.

I suspect there’s a lot to learn from the libre gaming community that would benefit any push for libre movies. There’s probably even a lot of direct overlap, e.g., Blender is a tool of choice for both games and movies, game engines can be used to create movies, and the line between movies and games will probably blur over time.

These are admittedly scattered thoughts. I’d love to learn more from people who know more about libre gaming or libre video, and be disabused where I’m obviously wrong.

Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year & how about commons promotional of the year?
Places to find commons news and new works/projects
Open pre-proposal: PALflix
The capital arms race in entertainment - and why we should abandon it

There are definitely some very high-quality libre games, such as Warzone 2100, Wesnoth, and (for the genres) blobwars and starfighter


Few other lists:

Spurred to look again by which complains that most games are proprietary and require wasteful and expensive hardware and suggests playing free software games (discussion).