Subject: FAQ POSTING (rgva.collecting)
Frequently Asked Questions
$Revision: 1.3 $ $Date: 1997/11/05 03:23:40 $
This is the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list for the Usenet newsgroup
rec.games.video.arcade.collecting (hereafter abbreviated to rgva.collecting)
This FAQ is posted every 14 days and the current copy should be considered to
supersede all previous postings.
This FAQ was developed by Tony Jones, and reviewed by Doug Jefferys and Steve
Ozdemir. This document (and all previous versions) is copyright and may only
be reproduced (either in whole or part) with the express written consent
of the author.
Information about UK sources and European TV/monitor specifications was kindly
provided by John Keay.
This document has been designed for viewing on an 80 column display.
Comments and suggestions for improvement welcomed.
Send email to tony@rtd[DOT]com (please replace [DOT] with a period)
Index of Items
> indicates a change since the last revision of the FAQ
* indicates new information
*1. What is rgva.collecting?
*2. Guidelines to posting to rgva.collecting
*3. Answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs)
*4. Other related FAQs
5. Further sources of information
*6. Some commonly used terms and acronyms.
1) What is rgva.collecting?
rgva.collecting is a forum for discussion related to the COLLECTING
of ARCADE VIDEO GAMES. The main topics of discussion are how to
purchase games from operators and auctions, technical discussions of
game hardware, issues relating to the maintenance/repair of games, and
game conversion, which is the process of converting or augmenting
an existing game to play one or more additional games.
Postings advertising items FOR SALE, AUCTION or items WANTED may not
be posted to rgva.collecting, they instead must be posted to
Discussion of all games (including those currently in the arcades) is
welcome on rgva.collecting, as long as the discussion is directly related
to collecting (as defined above).
Postings relating to arcade game play, game history, game features and
game advocacy (the various merits of one arcade game over another) should
be directed to the parent group, rec.games.video.arcade (rgva), unless a
clear link to collecting can be made.
Please do not post discussing home/pc versions of arcade games. Instead
post to a more appropriate group, such as 'rec.games.video.classic' or
1.1) History of rgva.collecting
The initial "request for discussion" for the formation of rgva.collecting
was issued on Wednesday October 20th 1993 by Tony Jones. Voting began on
Wednesday November 24th. With help from Steve Ozdemir who rallied the VAPS
membership, the newsgroup came into being on Wednesday December 22nd having
passed the newgroup creation process 4 days earlier by a vote of 165 to 16.
In the early days of the newsgroup, traffic was in the low tens of articles
per day, rising by 1996 to around 100 articles per day.
In August 1997, Steve Ozdemir organised a vote to split Forsale/Wanted
(so called 'marketplace') traffic out of rgva.collecting into a new
newsgroup rgva.marketplace. This new group came into effect on the 1st of
October 1997, having passed it's vote by a majority of 5 to 1.
2) Guidelines to posting to rgva.collecting.
rgva.collecting is a Usenet group, no different from any other.
As such, most if not all of the usual guidelines for posting
Remember that before posting to rgva.collecting you should already be
familiar with the posting conventions and guidelines that are posted
periodically to the newsgroup "news.announce.newusers". If you cannot
find these guidelines by reading the group, wait a while and a copy
*will* be posted, or try asking fellow users or the system administrators
at your site for a copy.
In addition, newcomers are strongly advised to read rgva.collecting for
at least a few weeks (at a minimum, have read this FAQ) before posting
for the first time.
You are, of course, free to ignore all of this advice. You should,
however, remember that your postings reflect upon yourself. If you
choose to pursue collecting video games further, you may be dealing
with people who read your postings, and first impressions can often
3) Answers to some frequently asked questions:
3.1) -- I want to buy and sell games and game parts by advertising on
rgva.collecting, are there any tips?
These types of postings are no longer allowed on rgva.collecting.
In October 1997, a new group rgva.marketplace dedicated to this type of
posting was created.
See the FAQ for rec.games.video.arcade.marketplace for more details.
3.1b) -- OK, but if I post to rgva.marketplace, then I can also crosspost my
Forsale/Wanted/Auction posting to rgva.collecting. Right?
Wrong. No posting of 'marketplace' items to rgva.collecting, whether
directly or via crossposting.
3.2) -- Somebody told me that this group is only for 'classic' games such as
Tempest. Is this really true?
-- I just bought a Primal Rage, can I post about it on rgva.collecting?
The charter of rgva.collecting (which was voted upon) states:
"rec.games.video.arcade.collecting will be open to all games,
including those currently popular in the arcades, provided the
discussion is collection, rather than gameplay related".
If you hear someone say that rgva.collecting is really only for
'classic' games, you can safely ignore them.
3.3) -- How can I get the list of moves for the game "latest&greatest"?
-- I was playing "punch&kick" last night and this happened, has anyone
else ever seen it?
-- Does anyone know of an arcade which has the game "old&dated"?
-- My favourite arcade game is "classic". What is yours?
-- What is your highest score on Tempest?
Please don't post these questions to rgva.collecting. These are
"gameplay"-related questions; they belong in rec.games.video.arcade.
3.4) -- There is supposed to be this 'cool' PD version of Tempest for the
Macintosh. Can anyone tell me where the ftp site is?
-- What good versions of arcade games exist for home machines?
These are home/pc related questions; they belong in
rec.games.video.classic or comp.sys.<machine>.games
3.5) -- I'm new to collecting, someone is offering me a PacMan for $900.
He says it is a 'classic', it's 'hard to find' and he regularly sells
them at this price. Is this really a fair deal?
-- I have a Asteroids I'm looking to sell. Someone told me he had heard
of a friend who had sold one for $1000. I should be able to sell
mine for the same - right?
Most rgva.collecting readers would consider $300-$400 a fair price for
one of the above machines in good condition.
Paying significantly more for the above is an example of the phenomenon
known as "Greater Fool Theory" (GFT) which Jim Grove described as follows
in a posting to rgva.collecting:
"This is the sort of thing you will see if video arcade game collecting
gets a 'guide book'. The idiot that develops the guide book will take
the claim that someone has sold a game for $800-900 and has heard that
people sell them as high as $1200. The next issue of the guide has the
game listed at $1200. People then become consumed by GFT. The comic
book, BB and Dutch tulip markets all operate under the GFT."
Basically, if GFT prevails, real collectors will find it much harder to
own their favourite arcade machines. Something for you as a collector to
consider next time you sell a game!
There is however a flip side. There are several games which had production
runs in the low hundreds (PacMan was produced in the tens of thousands)
for which $1000 would be considered the 'going rate' by many collectors.
Finally there are 'prototype' games which may never have been released
for which only one or two may exist.
A good way to get a feeling for what games are worth is to read
rgva.marketplace for several months.
3.6) -- I want to buy the game "myfavourite", what can I do?
First, do some research before posting. You'll learn a lot in the
process. The knowledge in this FAQ, for instance, came from doing
the same kind of research.
Games can be bought from four main sources:
a) ...from operators,
Operators are the people who provide the games you see in arcades
and movie theatres. Older games cease to make money, and often
get "warehoused". The "Amusement Devices" section of your Yellow
Pages is the best place to find a list of operators. Many operators
also place stickers with their name and phone number on games they
operate. You can also try asking the people who work at the local
arcade where they get their games.
Often dealers who specialize in "Home Sales" will advertize
alongside operators in the Yellow Pages. Usually their prices
are far higher than those of a true operator, so it pays to shop
A cool head and "don't appear too eager" are the keys to getting
a good price. Visiting in person combined with a degree of
"disinterest" towards the games present, rather than telephoning
to ask "do you have game X" almost always results in a better deal.
There is a detailed FAQ available on buying machines from an
operator; you should probably read this before you start hunting.
Check section 4 of this FAQ for details on where to find it.
b) ...from auctions,
Auctions are held periodically around the country. These are where
operators sell their surplus games, either to other operators or to
collectors such as yourself. You can find out about auctions in your
area by reading rgva.collecting, by checking a "Miscellaneous Games"
section in your local paper or by asking a few operators in your area
(since they may be selling games at the auction, you may recieve
a rare showing of helpfulness)
If you live in the USA, you might want to consider obtaining a copy of
one of the following trade magazines (Replay is probably the most
popular - single issues of Replay are available for $6 each)
Replay Magazine Play Meter Magazine Vending Times
PO Box 2550 6600 Fleur de Lis 1375 Broadway
Woodland Hills PO Box 24970 New York
CA 91365 New Orleans LA 70184 NY 10018
(818) 347-3820 (504) 488-7003 (212) 302-4700
(818) 347-2112 (fax) (504) 488-7083 (fax) (212) 221-3311 (fax)
Readers from the United Kingdom, can subscribe to "Coin Slot"
(beginning July 15th it will be available by seperate subscription
PO Box 54
01536 760306 (fax)
There is a detailed FAQ available on buying machines from an
auction; you should probably read this before you start hunting.
Check section 4 of this FAQ for details on where to find it.
c) ...from ads in your local paper,
Most papers have a "Miscellaneous Games" or equivalent section
in the classifieds. Prices are often artificially high, as the
sellers are hoping to find "gullible" first time buyers. This does
not, however, prevent you, as an informed buyer, from haggling the
price back down. Often the sellers will be the same people as the
dealers listed above who specialize in "Home Sales".
d) ...or from the net!
Check out the newsgroup 'rec.games.video.arcade.marketplace' and
it's associated FAQ for more details..
Please do not post Forsale, Auction and Wanted postings to
3.7) -- How much does a game cost?
How much money do you have?
Brand-new games can cost $2500 and up. A typical old game will go
for $100-$200 in decent condition, and old, broken games (which *may*
be trivial to fix!) can go all the way down to $25.
Experienced collectors often find it cheaper to buy a game circuit
board and adapt it into an existing cabinet, rather than buying the
complete game. It's cheaper, and it also saves a lot of space. Most
boards generally sell for between $5-$25 "as-is" in a bulk deal with
an operator and for $30-100 guaranteed from rgva.marketplace.
3.8) -- I have the game "earlygame" and someone just gave me the board for
the game "latergame". Can I use this board somehow?
-- I want all these games, but I don't have room for this many cabinets!
What can I do?
This is generally referred to as "conversion", the process of taking
a new game (usually just the circuit board) and installing it into the
cabinet from an older game.
This is perhaps the most complex subject for video game collectors.
Fortunately, there is a detailed FAQ dedicated to the topic; you will
likely want to read this before you start brandishing your soldering
iron. Check section 4 of this FAQ for details on where to find it.
3.9) -- I just bought a game, but there is no documentation, can someone
send me some?
Don't expect rgva.collecting readers to answer your post until you've
checked the sources of information outlined below and in section 5.
If the information you are looking for is not present in the archives,
information on how to locate the manufacturer should be, and they are
often willing to supply documentation for around $10-15 per game.
If that doesn't work, your local operator will often have filing
cabinets full of documentation. Sometimes they will let you leave
a deposit and borrow some. Develop a relationship with your local
operator(s); it can really pay off when the game's manufacturer has
gone out of business or discontinued support.
If you locate some documentation which was not in the archives,
*PLEASE* take the time to type in some useful sections and make
it available to the rest of us! (see section 5.1 for details).
3.10) -- Where can I buy parts for my game?
Call the operators listed in the "Amusement Devices" section of your
Yellow Pages and find out who your local distributor is. They'll be
able to help you (for a price). You can also try operators for spare
parts -- if the game is old and they have spares, the price can often
be quite a bit cheaper.
Failing this, see section 5 for help in finding the addresses of parts
3.11) -- Can I hook an arcade game board up to a TV or computer monitor?
To a first approximation the answer is yes. Most game boards produce
an analog RGB signals and a sync signal (or 2).
These signals can be fed directly into the SCART port on a European
TV. If the TV doesn't have a SCART port then the RGB signals would
have to be fed into a box of tricks that converts from RGB to NTSC/PAL
and modulates the signal so it can be plugged into the UHF input of
a TV. These convertors are available commercially.
Most computer monitors with analog RGB inputs will happily display
game board signals. A few more modern monitors have difficulty
synchronizing down to the low-resolution scan rates used by all but
a handful of video boards. Monitors that are easy to use include
Commodore 1080, 1084 and 1084S monitors.
4) Other related FAQs:
The following additional FAQs are available. See section 5 for
information on where they can be found:
Addresses and telephone numbers for game manufacturers and
Buying from an Auction FAQ
How to buy a game from an auction
Buying from an Operator FAQ
How to buy a game from an operator
How to convert "game A" to "game B"
How to make "board A" play "game B/C/etc."
How to run "boards A/B/C" in the same cabinet
How to buy, sell and auction items on the marketplace newsgroup.
5) Further sources of information:
It's a good idea to exhaust these sources of information before you
post a question. Readers are much more likely to answer a post when
it is clear that the poster has already put in some effort themselves.
5.1) FTP archives:
The rgva.collecting anonymous FTP archive at "www.spies.com"
is kindly provided by Al Kossow (firstname.lastname@example.org). The archive is also
available over the WWW as: http://www.spies.com/arcade
Additions/corrections to the archive are welcome, especially
information about pinouts and switch settings.
The following information is available via FTP in the "arcade"
directory. In each directory, there is a README file containing
- an archive of postings to rgva.collecting from CP Distributing (see
addresses FAQ), includes 'usa2.zip' an auction price guide.
- an archive of postings to rgva.collecting from Randy Fromm (longtime
technical contributor to PlayMeter magazine). An index is available as
'RFromm/index.txt'. See section 5.2 for a pointer to Randy's home page.
- a directory containing pinout info for various games
- a directory containing the Killer List of Video Games (KLOV)
- a directory where you can leave additions. If you do leave something,
please send email to "email@example.com" documenting what you
left - THANKS!
- a directory containing informational files - mainly other FAQ's,
the following 5 files are a sample of the information available:
- the also Addresses FAQ (game manufacturers and parts suppliers)
- the Buying from an Operator FAQ
- the Buying from an Auction FAQ
- the VAPS membership list for month "MMM", year "YY"
- a list of available pinout and dip switch information
- a directory containing conversion information for various games
- the Conversion FAQ, detailing how to convert games (see section 4)
- a directory containing some common repair tips
- a directory containing dip switch setting info for various games
5.2) World Wide Web (WWW) pages:
The following WWW pages cover arcade game collecting, or provide
information that may be useful for collectors (for a more complete list,
see the "Classic Video Games Nexus"). Several commercial companies
(parts suppliers etc.) also have home pages. For these URLs, see the
Addresses FAQ (section 4).
To access a WWW server, you will need a WWW browser such as Netscape or
Internet Explorer and a full Internet connection. If you have questions
regarding the WWW (what it is, how to use it etc.) PLEASE do not post to
rgva.collecting. Instead try asking your local site administrator, or
subscribe to the USENET newsgroup 'comp.infosystems.www'.
If you would like your page listed here or have corrections/comments
please send me mail.
The www.spies.com archive (see section 5.1 for details):
Although other Web sites may have HTMLized versions of the FAQs
and other information, www.spies.com is usually guaranteed to have the
most upto date version.
The rgva.collecting FAQ home page:
Most of the FAQ's from rgva.collecting in WWW hypertext format.
(NOTE: these versions may not be as current as those available above
The VAPS home page:
The home page for the Video Arcade Preservation Society (VAPS).
Maintained by Kevin Ruddy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Also includes a searchable version of the KLOV.
See section 6 for more informarion on VAPS and the KLOV.
Classic Video Games Nexus home page:
Probably the most complete set of arcade related WWW links.
The Virtual Coin-Op Museum:
On-line museum for Coin-Operated Arcade Games.
Currently also houses Steven Ryner's Classic Arcade Games page and
Steven's writeup of his visit to the National Coin-Op and Video Game
Museum, located in St. Louis, Missouri,
"The Atari Arcade Game Page" by Jess Askey:
A complete source of information on Atari XY games. Recently extended
to cover some Atari raster games.
Jess Askey's Arcade Games Page:
As if keeping the "Atari Arcade Game Page" upto date wasn't enough
work, Jess also maintains this site which he describes as a "good
resource for beginners". Additions and suggestions for the page are
Tim Hoffman's XY home page:
Information on Atari, Century, Cinematronics, Midway, Rockola,
Sega (take cover) and Vectorbeam XY games.
Sean Riddle's Williams Arcade Games home page:
Lots of useful tips for anyone who owns or dreams of owning
a Williams Electronics video game.
E-glide's game description pages:
Defender, Joust and Robotron:
Sinistar (includes short interview with Noah Falstein, Sinistar
project leader at Williams):
Denis Hruza's Arcade home page:
Pages dedicated to Sinistar, Stern, Crystal Castles, Space Duel
and Elevator Action.
Kevin Phillip's "Arcade Nostalgia" home page:
Love the tattoo Kevin!
David Shoemaker's "Laser Head" FAQ home page:
Is your head out of alignment? Need help with your optics?
If so, take a look at David's page.
Paul Davidson's Dragon's Lair/Space Ace Headquarters:
Phil's Arcade Emulation Page:
Complete list of freely available arcade emulators.
Randy Fromm's home page:
Variety of tech tips from Randy's many years as a contributor to
Playmeter magazine. Also, many other arcade related links also,
primarily industry related.
Online Yellow Pages:
Yellow pages for the entire US. Search by category, using
a keyword such as 'amusement'.
5.3) Network information services
Many network providers maintain online databases containing addresses
and telephone numbers of various organizations. Querying these databases
can be an easy way to find an address.
For the Internet, AT&T operates "internic.net", the Internet Network
Information Center. There is a telnet interface, allowing interactive
queries. Most entries also list an email address.
As is the case with all databases, the information you get out is only
as useful as the search criteria you provide.
(In the following transcript, "..." indicates lines deleted.
You would see additional output if you were following the
$ telnet internic.net
Connected to internic.net.
Escape character is '^]'.
[<term_type>] InterNIC > wais sega
1: Score: 1000, lines: 17 'Sega of America (SEGAOA-DOM) ...
14: Score: 1000, lines: 13 'Sega of America Inc. (NETBLK-SEGAOA) ...
View document number [type 0 or q to quit]: 1
6) Commonly used terms and acronyms:
- Usually used in the context of the type of game/cabinet.
Indicates that an existing cabinet was modified in the field to
play a new game. This is usually achieved by the operator purchasing
a "conversion kit". See also "dedicated".
- Usually used in the context of the type of game/cabinet.
Indicates that the game is in it's original factory cabinet.
Some games were released in dedicated factory versions and also as
conversion kits. The dedicated version is usually more valuable
to collectors. See also "conversion".
- The large connector(s) that link the wiring harness to the game's
- A step-up transformer used to provide the high-voltage (10-20kV)
supply required by a monitor.
- A description of the purpose of each of the pins on a game's edge
connector. Can also be used to describe the purpose of all the
wires in a game's wiring harness.
- The most popular method of displaying an image on a monitor. An
an electron beam "scans" horizontal lines down the screen - just
like your TV set at home.
- When used in regard to replacement control panel overlays a reproduction
is either 'Willis' style (which were produced around the same time as the
game) capturing the essence of the NOS version while being graphically
different to avoid copyright infringement, or more recently, a reasonably
exact copy of the NOS.
See also "NOS".
"sync", "composite sync", "separate sync"
- the synchronization signal(s) used by raster monitors to control
the movement of the electron beam. "Sync" comes in two main flavors:
composite and separate. Separate sync has two separate signals for
horizontal and vertical synchronization, and composite sync is a
combination of horizontal and vertical sync onto one wire. Some
manufacturers also invert the signal; if a board produces the wrong
flavor of sync for your monitor, you'll need to hack around before
you can play it.
- An assembly of wires and connecting terminals that connects the
controls, power supply, the monitor, speakers, coin door, and
circuit board(s) together to form a complete video game.
"DIP switch", "switch"
- A small set of switches (usually 8) in an inline package.
Most often mounted onto the circuit board, used to alter
game parameters (# of lives, difficulty level, etc.)
- "Electronically-Alterable ROM", and "Non-Volatile RAM". These
are forms of memory that are preserved when the power is shut
down, but can be modified on the fly. Often used to store things
like "all-time high scores" and game accounting information.
- The "Killer List Of Videogames", a fairly complete list of
all the arcade games ever made.
- LaserDisc. Dragon's Lair is an example of an "LD game".
- New Old Stock. A term primarily used to describe replacement game
artwork (side decals and control panel overlays) which are unused
original manufacturer versions.
See also "reproduction".
- NTSC is the video signal standard used by U.S (et. al.) TVs and
- PAL is the video signal standard used by British (et. al.) TVs
and video recorders.
- Red/Green/Blue, referring to a color monitor that has separate
inputs controlling each of the 3 color guns.
- Random Access Memory, used to store temporary things like your
score, the positions of the enemies on the screen, and so on.
Data stored in RAM vanishes when the power is removed.
- rec.games.video.arcade, the parent newsgroup - the proper place
for gameplay questions.
- rec.games.video.arcade.collecting, this group
- rec.games.video.arcade.marketplace, the newsgroup dedicated to buying
and selling arcade video games and parts.
- Read Only Memory, used to store the code for the game. When
power is removed, the data remains (unlike RAM)
- SCART is a European standard port fitted to almost all modern
(European) TVs, VCRs, satellite decoders, video cameras, etc etc.
amongst other inputs it has analog RGB inputs compatible to
those produced by game boards.
- The "Video Arcade Preservation Society", a list of all the game
owners on the net, and their respective collections. Additions and
corrections are welcome by email to Kevin Ruddy (email@example.com)
"X-Y", "Vector", "Vector-scan"
- A type of game monitor where the electron beam moves in straight
lines which can start and end anywhere on the screen. The last
vector games were made in 1984-1985. Examples of this type of game
include Battlezone, Tempest, and Star Wars.