The ideas you come up with to keep yourself amused when you’re really bored. I was working long shifts back to back with nothing but some Linux workstations ( with no internet ). No internet connection, no phone reception, nothing but those workstations. Once we were on top of our work we had lots of downtime.

It was during this excruciatingly slow shift that I had an idea of how we could play a rudimentary network multiplayer game of text based Pong using software already on the workstations.

Emacs has a few built in games hidden away in the menu. They’re text based and pretty much all single player except for Pong. I guess Emacs Pong is intended to be played by two players sharing the same physical keyboard. Using a shared account, ssh and screen (terminal multiplexer) I was able to adapt it to be a network multiplayer game of sorts. It’s dead simple and easy to cheat by pressing the other players keys but it passed a little time and I figured I’d share it with you all. This is how I did it:


$ useradd tempaccount
$ passwd tempaccount
$ su - tempaccount
$ screen
$ emacs -nw

Press Alt - T - G - P (Opens Pong in Emacs)


$ ssh tempaccount@terminal1
$ screen -x

One player uses left and right arrows while the other uses up and down.

Later on I found that there were a few proper games in the EPEL software repository, so the options weren't limited to Pong. For what it’s worth this was still kind of fun though.

I love these kinds of messy workarounds. I’m sure there are probably many similar hacks that people have done with text games in a terminal. If anyone out there has done something similar I’d genuinely love to hear about it so leave a comment below.