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The focus of this category is on free and open-source (FOSS) video game software.

Free and open source software is an umbrella term used to describe software that is both free software and open-source software. Games that can be downloaded or played online without payment of a fee are not necessarily free and open source.

The term "free" does not refer to the monetary cost of the software, but to the freedom that the user has to do with it as he pleases. The definition of free software, adopted by the Free Software Foundation, defines free software as a matter of liberty rather than price, although they are generally free of cost too. To be considered free software, according to the policies of the FSF and the GNU Project, the software must be so licensed as to grant the user the freedom to run the program as he wishes, to study how the program works, to change it so that it does what the user wants it to do, to redistribute copies to others, and to distribute copies of modified version to others, allowing others to benefit from any changes that are made to it. In order to accomplish these things, access to the source code is necessary.

Computer programs and applications are made up of source codes that are made by programmers. What a user sees or is able to do while running a program are representations of the codes that make up the program. Software that you purchase, or which may have come preinstalled on your computer, do not come with the source codes, and you do not have permission to view or modify these codes. When you install an application on your computer, it installs a lot of files, but none of these files contain the source code.

Computer programs that come with the source code, or for which the source code is available, are known as open-source programs. Both the compiled programs and the source code are distributed freely to users without a fixed fee. Users of open-source software can do pretty much whatever they want with open source software, although various open-source licenses do place some restrictions.

When a game developer writes the code for a video game, compiles it into an executable program, and distributes it along with the source code, he gives permission to others to access everything about the program. Anyone who downloads the program can play the game, view the source code, modify it, compile it, and then redistribute the modified version of the game. However, open-source license requirements might require that the original programmer be credited for his work, have access to the modified version of the source code, and that the modified game not be sold as proprietary software.

If the original game developer approves of changes made to his code, he might elect to include these changes in the next version of the game, acknowledging the user who modified it as a contributor. In game programming communities, the free and open-source model allows others to contribute to the future development of the game. If the original developer chooses not to adopt the modification, the person who suggested the modification is free to make his own version of the game.

Free software and open source software share the same advocacy, and the differences are subtle. They are not synonymous terms, however. Both free software and open source software include the source code.

Free software allows users to do whatever they want with a program. They can modify and redistribute the source code without the consent of the original game developer, and without even a requirement to communicate with the person or organization that developed the original code. Users of free software can use the source code as the base code of a new project he is working on.

The idea of open source game development is one of a group of people working on a single open source project with the goal of improving upon it. For this reason, many open source projects are developed through non-profit organizations established for that purpose.

Open source games are released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the right to study, modify, and change the software to anyone. There are various license models available for open source, each with its own terms and conditions. Common licensing models include the Apache License, Mozilla Public License, BSD License, GNU Lesser General Public License, and General Public Licenses in various versions.

The Free Software Foundation prefers a method known as copyleft licensing, which refers to the practice of offering people the right to freely distribute copies and modified versions of the game with a stipulation that the same rights be preserved in derivative works.

Games that are distributed both free and open source are appropriate for this category, as are websites that discuss free and open source game development or licensing.



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