After playing several games in ubuntu I have realized the games are slowly updated in the distribution, even though newer verions exists.
Now downloading the game and compiling it yourself, usually lead to other programs that is needed and then you have to compile them too. It can mount up to a large number, an example is compiling freeorion.
So the tip is to use ubuntu packages as much as possible for the mandatory programs/libraries and source for the game itself. Compiling is then usually a matter of, something like this:
tar -xzvf game.tgz
sudo make install
A problem can be to find the binary file to start the game..but the name can usually be found in the game directory itself or under game directory and bin