What Are Video Game Emulators?


A video game emulator is a type of emulator that allows personal computing devices, mobile devices, and other video game systems to emulate other video game systems and play the games from that platform. The most common use of emulators is to play games from older consoles on newer consoles and personal computer devices. They are also often used to translate games into other languages and to modify (mod/ hack) games.


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Video game emulators often add new feature to the emulation that weren’t available on the original system. Most support multiple controller compatibility. For example you can use your wired PS3 controller to play Xbox 360 games and vice versa. Some emulators allow you to save anywhere in the game at anytime. Many have built in code programs like “GameShark”. They also usually have higher resolution, timescale control, higher frame rates, memory modification options, and much more. Emulators are also very handy in the development of Homebrew games and the creation of new games on old systems.

  • Q: What is a “Rom?”
  • A: A “Rom” is a computer file that stores the data from a memory chip, computers firmware, or arcade games main board.
  • Q: What is a “ISO?”
  • A: A “ISO” File or image, is a archive file of an optical disc. Its basically a type of image file that contains all the data from a disc including the optical disc’s file system.

The code and data are fed to the emulator, most often via rom or iso file to emulate a game. Roms are typically stored on a hard drive, while iso’s can be stored on a optical disc or loaded from a memory source.


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Are Emulators Illegal?

When searching the internet to answer this question, you will find a lot of feedback. Most emulators are completely 100% legal unless they infringe on another companies rights. The term most used for a game file is “a backup.” It is called a backup because that is one of the main reasons they are legal. Meaning if you own it, its legal to backup.

Many games, including very old ones, are under strict copyright laws. If you don’t own the original source of the game, possession of the file could be a violation of those copyright laws. If a game doesn’t have any existing copyright, its free game.

If you have poked around the web looking to answer some of these questions, you’ll hear many say, “nobody gets in trouble for it anyway.” This article is in no way meant to be taken as legal advice. I have never heard of anyone I know getting arrested for pirating rom’s. I have heard several people make claims of getting warning letters from their internet providers. But piracy of any copyrighted material is illegal. Like with anything that’s against the law, don’t do it unless you are willing to deal with the penalties.

If you are a pirate just know that it is extremely bad etiquette to brag about it online!

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