In installed python-virtualenv, because this question said I should use virtualenv to install pygame. However, I'm not really sure how that's accomplished.

What I did (following these instructions):

virtualenv --no-site-packages --distribute -p /usr/bin/python3.3 ~/.virtualenvs/pywork3 --no-pip

And then I don't know where to go.

How do I install pygame to be used in the virtualenv?

Edit: I followed GuySoft's instructions, and everything installed great. However, when I tried import pygame in python3, I got the following error:

>>> import pygame
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "/home/alden/.virtualenvs/pywork3/lib/python3.3/site-packages/pygame/__init__.py", line 95, in <module>
from pygame.base import *
ImportError: /home/alden/.virtualenvs/pywork3/lib/python3.3/site-packages/pygame/base.cpython-33m.so: undefined symbol: PyCObject_Check
  • 1
    src/pygame.h:75:20: fatal error: Python.h: No such file or directory You probably need the Python development files.
    – Timo
    May 25, 2013 at 19:22
  • Yeah, right at the beginning of the log I failed to notice that it warned about missing dependencies (including python3.3-dev), so I found the list on the pygame wiki and am installing them right now.
    – ananaso
    May 25, 2013 at 19:27
  • @Timo I installed all the recommended dependencies, but I'm still missing the jpeg dependency. Do you know what this would be?
    – ananaso
    May 25, 2013 at 20:36

4 Answers 4


I suggest you have pip in your virualenv, its useful.

Note: must have pygame's dependencies installed, you can find out what they are and install them with:

sudo apt-get build-dep python-pygame

Then try this:

rm -rf ~/.virtualenvs/pywork3 #clean what you have there
mkdir -p ~/.virtualenvs/pywork3
virtualenv --no-site-packages --distribute -p /usr/bin/python3.3 ~/.virtualenvs/pywork3
. ~/.virtualenvs/pywork3/bin/activate
pip install pygame
  • Just added an important step, tested and this should work :)
    – GuySoft
    May 25, 2013 at 22:01
  • After I added the Source code repository, everything installed just fine; however, I ran into another error when I tried to import pygame, which I've added to the OP.
    – ananaso
    May 27, 2013 at 21:53
  • That's a different issue. Pygame on python 3 is experiential. Try following these instructions (aka download from source the latest version, and confirm you indeed have all the requirements).
    – GuySoft
    May 30, 2013 at 16:32
  • Ok, will check that out. I also contacted the writer of the book to ask him about it. Thanks for the help!
    – ananaso
    May 30, 2013 at 22:31
  • This doesn't seem to work any more. pygame isn't in the python packages repositroy.
    – Ben Davis
    Jul 5, 2015 at 0:55

that is working for me without problem:

sudo apt-get build-dep python-pygame


pip install hg+http://bitbucket.org/pygame/pygame
  • Sad to report that this has ceased to work in ubuntu 15.10. The pip install just hangs. Attempting to download and install using "pip -e" shows missing libraries, which may be causing pip to fail silently.
    – lysdexia
    Dec 2, 2015 at 22:02
  • I've been forced to to the usual "python ./setup.py install", then copy the results to my virtualenv.
    – lysdexia
    Dec 2, 2015 at 22:17

I have found that pygame will not install in a virtualenv on ubuntu 15.10.

The problem is missing links to libswscale and libavformat.

On my system I added the following symlinks:

$ sudo ln -sf /usr/include/x86_64-linux-gnu/libswscale /usr/include/libswscale
$ sudo ln -sf /usr/include/x86_64-linux-gnu/libavformat /usr/include/libavformat

At that point I was able to follow the http://pygame.org/wiki/CompileUbuntu#Installing pygame with pip instructions. I am now levitating in a ball of clear light.


For pygame 2 (using SDL 2) with Python 3 on Ubuntu, you need to install the following dependencies (according to CompileUbuntu at pygame.org):

sudo apt-get install --yes libsdl2-dev libsdl2-image-dev libsdl2-mixer-dev libsdl2-ttf-dev libfreetype6-dev python3-setuptools python3-dev python3 libportmidi-dev

Then use pip to install pygame in your venv:

pip install pygame

A complete script could look like this:


sudo apt-get install --yes python3-venv

# all these are required for pygame-2
sudo apt-get install --yes libsdl2-dev libsdl2-image-dev libsdl2-mixer-dev libsdl2-ttf-dev libfreetype6-dev python3-setuptools python3-dev python3 libportmidi-dev

python3 -m venv $PYTHON_VENV_DIR

source $PYTHON_VENV_DIR/bin/activate

python3 -m pip install --upgrade pip

pip3 install wheel
pip3 install pygame

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