A Glimpse into OpenArena, Open-Source Games and the Online Gaming Communities of the 2000’s.

pictured: OpenArena title screen

The analytical framework to explore this game and its conception seeks to connect the growing online gaming community of the 2000’s and the new technological concept of open sources, to an enormous influx of new games with community-driven backgrounds.

What is ‘Open-Source’ anyway?

Open-Source or Open Source Software refers to a source code that is publicly available to be modified and redistributed as desired. In the context of OpenArena, it like many other OS games derives its source code from FPS game ‘Quake’.

Why was the game made? I believe the simplest explanation for OpenArena’s creation, like so many other source games, was to reinvigorate the playerbase. The source for OpenArena, Quake 3, was released many years prior. I believe this draws the link of OpenArena’s connection to emerging online gaming communities. Some of its success can also be owed to its portability and how accessible it is with its availability on older hardware and its priceless price tag.

Though, as popular as it was in these communities, the game stayed a secret enshrouded within the world of open-source gaming. Many games like OpenArena are centralised to the communities they’re created in. Being independently produced and generally not funded or marketed in any way, it required a substantial amount of cultural capital in the online PC gaming world to engage with games like OpenArena and their success is entirely attributable to online forum communities.


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