Video Game Glossary & Terms

A Guide toΒ Retro & Certified Video Game Terminology

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

3 Screw πŸ“·

Later production NES cartridges assembled using three metal screws. These NES cartridges were generally manufactured and sold starting in 1987. For many early NES games both 3- and 5- screw variants exists, with 5-screw variants being generally more sought after.

5 Screw πŸ“·

Early production NES cartridges assembled using five metal screws. These were mostly manufactured and sold from 1985 to around 1987. For many early NES games, both 3- and 5-screw variants exists, with 5-screw variants being generally more sought after.
Altered A game whose components have been modified post-production, often with the purpose of concealing or hiding cosmetic flaws or wear.
Ancillary Product A video game product other than a standard controller, console, or game. Examples of such products are controllers in the form of a gun, jump pad, or memory expansion pack.
APR Acronym for "Auction Price(s) Realized", which refers to the sale price at auction of a particular game or item.
Authentication The process of determining genuineness.

Baggie πŸ“·

Clear plastic bag often included inside of the box holding the cart when the game was originally sold.

Black Box πŸ“·

Catch-all name for the first 30 games released on the NES. These all have a uniform black background on the game's box. These black boxes are often some of the most sought after and collected certified video games in existence.

Blockbuster Sticker πŸ“·

Stickers placed on cartridges or game boxes by Blockbuster Video. A handful of games such as ClayFighter 63 1/3: Sculptor's Cut and Stunt Racer 64 for N64 were actually released as Blockbuster rental exclusives and are highly sought after by collectors today.

Board πŸ“·

Circuit board inside the cartridge that contains the game's software. Rarer games are often opened up to inspect the circuit board inside to ensure the game's authenticity.

Box πŸ“·

The outer box that contains the game cartridge and manual.

Cart πŸ“·

The game cartridge itself. It is almost always a two-piece plastic shell that contains a circuit board.
Census A complete listing and record of all games certified by a particular grading service.
Certification The process by which a third-party grading service assesses a game's authenticity and assigns a rating. If the game is deemed authentic, the grading service assigns a numeric grade and seal rating using objective, uniform standards. The game is then encased in a tamper-evident case and returned to the customer.

Certification ID or "Cert ID" πŸ“·

Number that corresponds to the database of the grading service which graded and authenticated the game.
Complete in Box (CIB) An opened video game that retains its original components. Effectively a sealed game, with the exception of the original plastic shrink wrap "seal" itself. At a minimum, a CIB includes a game box, instruction manual, and cartridge. Some CIBs may contain additional components such as a map or registration card, but they are not required in order to be certified and their inclusion not affect the rating assigned by a grading service.

Clamshell πŸ“·

Plastic game box type that snaps open and shut, most often seen on Sega Genesis games and virtually all newer console games produced today.

Code(s) πŸ“·

Numbers or letters assigned to a specific game component, often used to determine the production stage of an item (early production, later production, etc).
Color touch Color applied to a video game box, cartridge label, or manual post-manufacturing to cover up defects. This is often done with ink or markers.

Competition Cartridge πŸ“·

Specialized edition of a game used in a competition, often possessing a different circuit board.
Components The main pieces of a game. Typically the cart, manual, and box.

Component Grades πŸ“·

The individual grades assigned to each component of a CIB, which in most cases, is a box, cart, and manual. These "subgrades" are then combined to assign an overall grade to the CIB. Presently, WATA uses a weighting of box (50%), cartridge (30%), and manual (20%) to determine an overall grade.
Condition Census A catch-all term used across all collectible categories that refers to the highest graded example of a particular item on a third-party grading service's population report.
Conditional Rarity An item that is considered rare not because of it's low production numbers or general scarcity, but rather its difficult to find status in a high grade or state of preservation.
Console A home video game system.
Corrected A game component variant that corrects a previous manufacturing error, usually a misspelling.
Counterfeit A game or game components that are not deemed to be authentic and were originally manufactured with the intent to deceive a collector. Counterfeits can take the form of fake boxes, carts, or manuals, as well as carts with a genuine plastic shell but containing a spurious circuit board.

Crease πŸ“·

Fold in a manual or box that negatively affects the condition.

Crushed or Crunch πŸ“·

Damage to a video game box from improper handling, usually in the form of corners being damaged from a fall or weight being applied to the game box.
Database ID Number that corresponds to a particular game title in a grading service's database.
Developer A company that codes the software. There are many different video game developers. Games can sometimes be self-published as well.
Disc In lieu of a cartridge, a game that is instead written onto a CD or DVD.
Double-ended box Video game box that has the same perpendicular flap on both the top and bottom as opposed to a Y-fold on the bottom.

Dust Cover/Sleeve πŸ“·

Also known as a sleeve. It is a piece that comes with some cartridge games and is used for storage and to prevent dust and damage to the pin connectors of the exposed circuit board.
Early Production Referring to an earlier print or manufacturer variant of a game in its production cycle. Most 5-screw NES carts are considered "early production" compared to their later production 3-screw variants. Round seals of quality are generally considered early production compared to their oval counterparts.
Ears A term sometimes used to refer to the two small flaps just under the main flap at the top of a game box.

End-Label πŸ“·

A label on some game cartridges that wraps around the top of the game and makes the game title visible from two sides.

Error πŸ“·

An unintentional flaw or mistake on a game component that sometimes can create a game variant.


An acronym for the Entertainment Software Rating Board, a regulatory commision created in 1994 to grade the appropriateness of gameplay for certain age groups. Originally with 5 tiers, the K-A tier was renamed E in 1998, causing many version changes.
Exclusive Variant of a game that is only available in limited quantities or through a specific vendor.
Factory Sealed Video game that retains its same components and packaging from when it was originally manufactured, including the original plastic wrap around its box or instead in some instances a sticker seal.

Fiber πŸ“·

Often listed as a percentage, some Nintendo boxes were created with varying degrees of recycled materials, thereby sometimes creating different box variants.
Finest Known or None Finer A term used in certified collectibles grading that indicates that a particular grading service has not or has yet to certify any examples of this particular collectible with a higher grade.
First-party Game components made by the same company who manufactured the system the game is played on. For example, Super Mario Bros. was manufactured by Nintendo and played on an NES console.
First Print/First Production Version or variant of a video game that is believed to be the first edition or production run. With new varieties being discovered frequently, many collectors are reticent to refer to a vintage game as "First Print" and may instead use the term "Early Production" to denote that the game was produced early in the game's life cycle. Doing so leaves open the possiblity that earlier editions may be discovered in the future.
Flap The top or "main" flap of the game box.

Foil πŸ“·

Metallic/gloss embellishing which appears on certain game components, notably featured on some Game Boy Color boxes.
For Display Only Super Nintendo boxes used for display purposes at retailers in the 1990s. The boxes come without additional components such as cartridges and manuals and prominently say "For Display Only" on the front of the box.
Game Component See "Components".
Game Pak Alternate term for a game cartridge used primarily by Nintendo in the 1980s and 1990s.
Game Publisher See "Publisher"
Game Specific Insert (GSI) An in-box insert, such as a poster or map, that is usually specific to only one game. GSIs are not required but can be desirable, as they may add value to a CIB.
Game System See "System"
Gen Acronym for the Genesis game console, released in North America by Sega in 1989

Grade Details πŸ“·

Information pertaining to a game's component grades, seal rating, and/or other notes pertinent to a game's condition.
Grader Person who is employed by a third-party grading service such as WATA to impartially and professionally assess a game's authenticity and condition.
Grading See "Certification"
Grading Scale Numerical scale used to rate the condition of a video game. For example, WATA's grading scale goes from 0.5 to 10.0 with 23 levels. The grading scale does NOT indicate a specific game's overall rarity.
Greatest Hits Package branding used primarily by Sony to denote best-selling PlayStation games.
Handheld A portable video game system such as a Game Boy, Game Gear, or PSP.
Hangtab Die cuts on the back of a video game box used to hang the game on a hook for display or sale, characteristic of early NES boxes. Also can refer to a plastic sticker placed on the back of a game box for the same purpose.
Heavy/Heavies Game collecting vernacular used to describe high-end or rare games.
Homebrew Unlicensed video game made by an individual or small groups of fans. Homebrew games are often released in limited quantities through non-commercial channels.

H-Seam πŸ“·

Many video games are shrink-wrap sealed using an H-Seam. The front of the wrap is seamless, and the back has a single horizontial seam across the center. The sides of the box each have a seam from top to bottom, thereby creating an "H" seal pattern.
Incorrect Married Part (IMP) A game component that is from a different manufacturing run or print variant than the one it is included within a graded CIB. Often, it is noted as "IMP" in the grading notes by WATA

Inner Box πŸ“·

An interior box part made of plastic or cardboard that holds the contents inside a game's box.
Insert See "Game Specific Insert (GSI)", also a term used to describe the information portion of a graded game's holder.
Instructions See "Manual".
Kiosk Demo Game used as a demo in game stores. In some instances, this game is labeled "Not For Resale" and is considered a scarcer variant.

Label πŸ“·

Term describing the information portion of a graded game's holder.
Licensed Game made under the license and approval of the console's manufacturer.
Loose Term used to describe a game sold with only the cartridge or disc.

Longbox πŸ“·

Box variant type named for its extended length compared to a standard size jewel case, most commonly found in early PlayStation games as well as Sega Saturn and Sega CD.

Manual πŸ“·

Instruction booklet included inside a game box which explains how the game is played; also called instructions.
Miscut Label Production error whereby a label on a cartridge was inadvertently manufactured off-center.

Misprint πŸ“·

A lettering error occurring during the manufacturing process for a game component; typically a misspelling.
Modern Generally referred to as any game manufactured from 2006 to today, although some may reference a different year as the cut-off date for such a designation.
N64 Acronym for the Nintendo 64 game console, released by Nintendo in 1996.
NES Acronym for the Nintendo Entertainment System game console, released by Nintendo in 1985.
NES TM/R Variant designation referring to the trademarking or restricted usage of various phrases and titles, predominantly on NES game components.

Nintendo Selects πŸ“·

Marketing label previously referred to as "Player's Choice." Designated on popular-selling titles for Nintendo consoles produced after the Nintendo 64.
Not For Resale (NFR) Specifically marked cartridge that's usually intended for kiosk demos, system pack-ins, or promotional use. With a few exceptions, these cartridges typically have production rates that are a fraction of the same game without the NFR marking.
NTSC Games released for the North American game market due to a different video signal than PAL.

Oval SOQ πŸ“·

Nintendo Seal of Quality that is white and oval in shape.
Pack-in A game variant that was made especially for inclusion with a game system.
Pedigree A collectible that comes from a recognized or famous collection or has a historically signifigant or notable provenance.
PAL Games released for the European video game market due to a different video signal than the North American NTSC.
Player's Choice A term and packaging variant used by Nintendo in the 1990s-2000s to denote best-selling games across Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy platforms.
Platinum Hits Package branding used by Microsoft to denote best-selling Xbox games.
Population The number of known examples of a particular game or specific variant.
Population Report See "Census".
Port Conversion of a game originally developed for arcade, PC, or a different home console.
Price Sticker See "Sticker".
Promotional Copy Game variant designated for a specific marketing purpose, usually a giveaway or redemption option.
Prototype Cartridge or disc made by a developer for internal development and testing/review purposes. Often, the board is completely different than the finished retail version.
PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4, PS5 Acronyms for various generations of Playstation consoles. E.g., PS2 = Playstation 2.
Publisher Company that releases a game for sale; may be the same or different as the developer.
Publisher Specific Insert (PSI) πŸ“· Insert included by a game's publisher inside the packaging of games they have released.
R Short for "Restricted"; a variant designation referring to the trademarking or restricted usage of various phrases and titles, predominantly on NES game components.

Ramp πŸ“·

One of two SNES cart designs. On ramp carts, which were produced after slotted carts, there's a sloping grade that resembles a "ramp" directly below the label on the front of the cart.
Rating An evaluation of a game's content by the ESRB, the VRC, or other game-rating board to act as a buyer's guide for parents and consumers.
Raw A collectible, such as a video game, that has not been certified.

Region Code πŸ“·

Different versions of games are sometimes produced for compatibility with game consoles in different countries. The most common region codes are NTSC, PAL, and JPN for North America, Europe, and Japan, respectively. This term is not to be confused with the country of origin or where the parts were made or assembled.
Reholder Service tier at a grading company whereby a game is removed from its current plastic holder and placed into a new holder. This is often done due to damage or scuffing occurring on the original holder.
Reproduction (Repro) Counterfeit game components created by someone other than the game's original manufacturer to offer a cheaper substitute of the original. All have minor differences from the original.
Reseal Video game that has been removed from its original factory-sealed shrink-wrapping and has subsequently been resealed. Grading services do not certify games that are resealed as there is no way to verify the authenticity of the box contents.
Restoration Video game component that has been touched up to improve its appearance or to conceal damage. Restored components are generally undesired by collectors and often sell for a fraction of what unrestored components are sold for.

Rev-A πŸ“·

Notation on some Nintendo game components; short for Revision-A. Conventional wisdom is that this mark denotes Nintendo's change from a 5-screw cartridge to a 3-screw design on Nintendo cartridges, although variants exist where this is not the case.

Round SOQ πŸ“·

Nintendo seal of quality that is black and circular in shape. This variant typically indicates an earlier edition of the game and may be referred to as an "Early Production."
RTB (or LRT) Seam Three sided shrink-wrap seal method primarily used by third-party developed games.
Scuff Marks on the front of the box or cart that are caused by use. Different than slices or tears.
Seal Rating A grading service's assessment of the factory seal that covers a game's box. Currently, WATA assigns a separate grade to the seal while VGA does not.
Sealed See "Factory Sealed".
Seam Refers to the method used in the manufacturer's factory seal for a game (H-Seam, Y-Seam, V-Seam, etc.)
Sega All Stars Package branding used by Sega to denote best-selling Dreamcast games.
Shell Casing of the cartridge which contains the circuit board; usually composed of two pieces of plastic.
Slab Certified collectible that resides in a third-party grading holder.
Sleeve See "Dust Cover" above.
Slice Damaged caused to a game box when the box is opened with a sharp object.

Slot πŸ“·

One of two SNES cart designs. On slotted carts, which were produced prior to ramp carts, there's a noticeable "slot" directly below the label on the front. This was originally manufactured as such to prevent removal of the cartridge while the SNES console was on.
SNES Acronym for Super Nintendo Entertainment System; released by Nintendo in 1991.
SOQ Acronym for Seal of Quality; usually relating to Nintendo's various forms of branding used on NES games (Round SOQ, Oval SOQ TM, Oval SOQ R).
Standard Insert Insert that is included in the game box for games published by both first- and third-party companies across many titles.
State/Type Grading services typically certify games in three different "states": Sealed (factory-sealed), CIB (complete in box), or Cart (loose cartridge).
Sticker A sticker placed on the shrink-wrap or box by a retailer, often to indicate the game's price.

Sticker Seal πŸ“·

Rather than sealing a game with shrink wrap, the box is instead sealed by a small sticker. Most notably, some of the earliest and most desirable NES black box games are sticker sealed.
System Console or platform on which a game is played.
Test Cart Special cartridge used by repair sites to test video game components.
Third-party Game components made by a company other than the manufacturer of the system the game is made to play on.
TM Short for trademark; a variant designation referring to the trademarking of various phrases and titles; predominantly on NES game components.
Turnaround Time The amount of time it takes a third-party grading service such as WATA to grade and return a grading submission to a customer.
Unlicensed Game Game made without the licensing approval of the console's manufacturer.

Unpunched Hangtab πŸ“·

As the name implies, a box hangtab that was never perforated.
Unreleased Game that was partially or fully developed but never released commercially. Some unreleased games do have test carts or demos that were created.
Variant Most games were manufactured and sold over several years. Both minor and significant changes were made to game components over time. Each one of these changes is a variant. Some games have no variants and others can have numerous known variants. New variants for retro games are still being discovered every day.

VGA πŸ“·

Third-party grading service that certifies and encapsulates video games after verifying the game's authenticity and assigning a numerical rating on a 0 to 100 scale.

V-Seam πŸ“·

Shrink-wrap seal method of a game box whereby the front of the wrap is seamless, and the back has a single vertical seam across the center. The sides of the box each have a seam from top to bottom, thereby creating a "V" seal pattern.
WATA Third-party grading service that certifies and encapsulates video games after verifying the game's authenticity and assigning a numerical rating on a 0.5 to 10 scale.
Year The original year of release for a game title. When a game is released with a significant new edition (such as Greatest Hits, Player's Choice, etc.), those copies may be referred to as being released in the year the new edition went to print. On rare occasions, it can also refer to the year a game was released with a previous games name. E.g., Doom (2016).

Y-Fold Box πŸ“·

Traditional classic video game box that has a long perpendicular flap at the top of the box, and a Y-shaped folded box bottom, akin to how you might wrap a present.

Y-Seam or Y-Fold Seam πŸ“·

Shrink-wrap seal method of a game box whereby only visible folds in the wrap are seen on the edges, akin to how you may wrap a present. While this seal method is often used on modern games by manufacturers, a Y-seam on an older sealed game may indicate a reseal or counterfeit game.



The contents of this guide were made in an effort to provide up-to-date information for popular certified retro video games. New variants of video games are discovered nearly every day; if you see any errors in this guide or have any co information regarding additional possible variants of this game, please reach out at