Gaming on non-Windows Operating Systems

Now that everyone’s gearing up for the end of the semester, I thought it would be nice to do a for fun post (though don’t forget, ITD still has office hours going on where you can practice presentations and ask questions!).

Apple’s iPad isn’t the only news for Mac aficionados lately. News sources over a month ago began receiving images that seemed to suggest Steam was going to be available for Mac in the near future. Steam is the platform used by Valve Corporations (creators of the popular Half Life, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead and Portal games) for content delivery. Prior to the official announcement on March 8th, teaser images featuring well-known Valve characters were sent to various Mac and gaming sites. The images were parodies of mac ads such as The Heavy from Team Fortress 2 in a spoof of the iPod ads as well as reference to Apple’s 1984 ad. Portal 2 is slated to be the first simultaneous Mac and PC release.

Although Windows has been the main OS for PC gaming, Mac and Linux do have options including:
Wine: free software that allows computers usingUnix-like operating systems to run Windows software. Here’s a youtube video of a Linux user playing the game Braid on his machine running Ubuntu (a distribution of Linux).
CrossOver Games: for-pay software (though there is a free trial) created by CodeWeavers that works on Intel based Macs (not PowerPC Macs, which tend to be older… to find out what your Mac is go to the Apple in the top left of the screen and choose “About this Mac”… a window should pop up that has processor information) and Linux. It is based on Wine.
Boot Camp: software that is already installed on machines running Leopard (OS 10.5) and Snow Leopard (OS 10.6). It is also only for Intel-based Macs. This allows Mac users to install Windows on their computers (but requires a copy of Windows as well as the know-how to partition your hard drive). Think of the GSLIS lab computers where you can choose to boot into windows.
Parallels: also for Intel-based Macs is Parallels, which is actually hardware virtualization software. Instead of booting into Windows like you would do with BootCamp, Parallels opens a new window onscreen where users can run a Windows desktop via Virtual Machine. Here is a youtube video of one of Parallel’s demos.

These aren’t the only options, but are some of the most common for running non-compatible software on a Mac or Linux Operating System. Most of these workarounds also can be used to run other software that is not compatible with your OS (want to use MS Access on your Mac? Bootcamp, Parallels, and more could be used).

For a list of games already compatible with Mac, check out’s page on games.

For more information on the Linux side of things, Linux Magazine had their own article on the topic last month: Commercial Gaming, Coming Soon to Linux? There are some commercial games available for Linux right out of the box such as 2D Boy’s World of Goo (also available for Mac and PC).

For more casual gamers, there is the option of playing browser based games. For example, PopCap Games (the creators of Bejeweled, Plants vs. Zombies, and other puzzle games) has limited versions of some of their games available online here: PopCap Games-Online Games

Happy gaming!

Also, be on the lookout for an upcoming Linux workshop hosted by one of ITD’s GAs, Dan Hahn!

Update (4/26/10):
The Linux workshop that will be led by Dan is on Friday, May 7th from 4-6pm (drop-ins welcome!) in Room 52 GSLIS.

Last week, social media news site Mashable reported on a leaked video of Steam for Mac. Steam has also closed it’s request for beta testers.

Update (4/27/10):
TechSpot posted information today on some of the details of the Steam beta for Mac.

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