The Raspberry Pi has time and time again proved itself to be quite a reliable piece of hardware. It’s being used across a large number of applications in various domains.
One field that remains untouched, however, is the gaming industry. The Pi as we know it is a pretty capable computing device, but gaming demands more than just computing power — this is where graphics horsepower comes into play as well.
But gaming is a subjective term. For some, it might mean the latest and greatest AAA titles; for others, it might be as simple as the legendary and evergreen Tetris.
So, how does gaming work on a Raspberry Pi? How far can you push the tiny boards when it comes to processing graphics? What games can you play on it? Let’s find out.
Gaming on a Raspberry Pi
Now if you know anything about the Raspberry Pi, it isn’t a performance beast, but it does fine for itself. While the Quad-Core 1.2GHz processor might look good enough for gaming, most people miss out on one most important detail, the processor architecture.
The Raspberry Pi is based on ARM architecture, which is more or less similar to mobile phones. PC Gaming, as we know it, has always been done on processors with 32 or 64-bit architecture.
What this means is, any game that you want to run on the Pi will have to be cross-compiled for ARM architecture before it even stands a chance to run on the Pi.
Next, there comes the issue of the operating system. Almost all major operating systems for the Pi are Unix based, which means Windows games go straight out of the window here.
How about games for Linux then? Remember the processor issue we talked about earlier? Even if the Pi, in theory, has enough power to run the game, it’ll still need to be compiled for ARM. That compilation in itself is a lengthy, tedious procedure and doesn’t always work as expected.
Is gaming possible on the Raspberry Pi?
You’ll be delighted to know that yes it is possible to run games on Raspberry Pi. You won’t be running any AAA titles or 3D first-person shooters, but there are a lot of other games that can still run on a Pi.
Using ROMs like RetroPi you can turn your Raspberry Pi into a fully fledged retro gaming machine. You can play games from NES, PlayStation 1 and almost all other retro classics that we played as kids.
Not only this, using ExaGear Desktop will allow you to emulate x86 architecture games on the Pi. Combining ExaGear Desktop with Wine, a utility to run Windows applications on Unix based systems, you might be able to play PC games from the early 2000s on your Pi.
And then there’s always Minecraft.
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