A ROM (often ISO for disc-based systems) is a copy of the read-only memory chip implanted in a video game cartridge, a computer's firmware or from the main board of an arcade system. It is the entire source code of a game, copied from the chip to a PC through "dumping". Though not inherently illegal, the term "ROM" is often seen used with ROMs with copyrighted content distributed in violation of its license, which is illegal. Like most of the Internet, MFGG (both site and forums) prohibits posting of or otherwise giving links to ROMs. However, discussion about them is tolerated provided that no links or files are given.
In part, ROMs and emulation in general make up part of the "gray area" of fangaming; though ROM data is often protected by copyright, some of that data, such as sounds and graphics, are widely posted on websites, including MFGG. Therefore, it can sometimes be difficult to tell what content from a ROM file may be allowed.
It should also be noted that many big video game companies use emulation for their own purposes as well. The Wii for example, uses emulation to run titles from it's Virtual Console lineup. Home-made emulators have also been beneficial to these companies, such as PocketNES (A NES emulator for the GBA), which has been said to may have inspired Nintendo to release NES classics on e-Reader cards and through the Classic NES series.
Games distributed as ROMs
Some games are allowed to be distributed as ROMs, as a result of developer approval; the following are examples:
- Alien Arena
- Robby Roto
- Teeter Torture
ROM hacking is a popular activity, ranging from simple changes and cheat usage to even adding new features to a game. ROM "patches" are files containing the changes made to the ROM, allowing them to be applied to a fresh one; they are considered legal as they don't contain the original data.
On May 30th, 2017, MFGG finally allows ROM hacks on their site, though you have to make it a patch and not ROM for legal reasons.