MobyGames is the working name of an extremely ambitious project: To meticulously catalog all relevant information about electronic games (computer, console, and arcade) on a game-by-game basis, and then offer up that information through flexible queries and "data mining". In layman's terms, it's a huge game database.
In addition to documenting much game information for historical posterity, anyone can contribute a rating or a review to voice their opinion about a particular game. Every rating and review in MobyGames was contributed by a real person who plays games just like you do. If a game is rated high or low in MobyGames, it is because the voting public put it there.
What might not be obvious from the above is the concept of a completely cross-referenced database, allowing practically anything you see on-screen to be a link or query to more information. From any game "rap sheet" (a comprehensive summary of that game's information), you can mine further into (and out of) the data.
How about an example of MobyGames? Using the rap sheet for "Civilization" as an example, let's say you want to play more games by the person who wrote Civilization. Just click on the designer (Sid Meier) from the full list of development credits and a new sheet comes up with all of Sid's games on it, from his early duds like Spitfire Ace (1984) to his latest masterpieces like Alpha Centauri (1999). You can then click any of those games, and their sheets come up, and the cycle continues. Exploring backward, you click on one of his older titles and see that it supports "Tandy" graphics in addition to CGA. "Tandy graphics? What the hell is that?" Click on Tandy, and a glossary entry on Tandy/PCjr graphics is displayed, along with all the games that support it. And so on.
The above is just a simple example, and doesn't even scratch the surface of MobyGames' capabilities, but I think you get the idea. If you like the music in a certain game, you can search for all of that composer's games. If you want to search for all games that specifically support 3D/FX Voodoo hardware accelerators in DOS mode, you can do it. If you have an older machine and want to find a list of good games (as rated by our users) for it to give to the nephew, you can do it. If you just want to get a description of all the baseball games ever created for the PC, you can do it. If you want to search for games with an unlikely combination of interests (searching for realtime+interactive fiction+role-playing games brings up "Zyll", or searching for Racing+Arcade+Coin-Op conversions brings up "Pole Position" and "OutRun"), you can do it.
MobyGames is the world's largest and most flexible electronic game documentation project in existence. And best of all, it's added to, rated, and reviewed by you--the gaming public. MobyGames is, literally, built by gamers.
MobyGames' main design goals are:
- To record all relevant information about a game, including (but not limited to): system requirements; sound/video/input devices supported; game creators (programmers, graphic artists, musicians, etc.); publisher; and so on
- To rate (and optionally review at greater length) each game in the database by several factors, and allow multiple ratings by different people for accuracy
- To allow anyone to easily retrieve the information--including complex queries that can span multiple genres, time periods, system requirements, etc.
- To open up the database to multiple contributors
I'll expand on each of the above bullet points:
Recording all relevant information: As previous examples have illustrated, the following will be documented and recorded into the database: Graphics modes, sound cards, minimum requirements, input devices, game developers (programmers, designers, musicians, graphic artists, etc.), publisher, screenshots, package materials (front/back box art, advertising blurbs, etc.), etc.
Ratings: MobyGames wouldn't be too useful if it didn't have ratings so you could separate the good, the bad, and the ugly. Ratings consist of a number value from 0 to 5 in different areas that are averaged together for a final score, and can optionally include short notes from each reviewer. This results in a fair and accurate rating through quantity averaging. (We believe that games are best rated by the players themselves.) And if you've got more to say, spend a few minutes and review the game, writing what you like and dislike about it. The gaming community will thank you for it.
Contributors: In addition to both anonymous and non-anonymous ratings, people are strongly encouraged to submit their own database entries into MobyGames. We can't do it all ourselves, and we certainly can't keep up with all the new releases. Anyone, from collectors keeping history alive to game company representatives ensuring their games are properly cataloged, can become a contributor. Through multiple contributions, MobyGames can become a valuable historical public resource. You can even maintain your own on-line list of software to display to others!
During our first two years of operation, MobyGames concentrated on PC platforms exclusively (booters, DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 9x/NT/2000, and Linux). This was an effort to get the MobyGames database populated as quickly as possible and happened to be the platform we were the most familar with. But on our 2nd birthday, we officially implemented a multi-platform codebase and added modern console platforms as proof of concept (PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, and Nintendo 64). Over the years we have added Intellivision, Vectrex, Xbox, Colecovision, Atari 2600, TI 99/4A, Neo Geo, Gamecube, Jaguar and many others. As MobyGames matures and grows, we will add additional platforms both modern and classic. (Note that there is no current release schedule for these additional platforms, so please don't ask.)
Please keep in mind that although MobyGames will be able to hold all non-PC information, there is no way that we could populate it since we do not own all of the hardware and software to do so. We will need your help--collectors, enthusiasts, etc.--in populating the databases for non-PC platforms.
MobyGames has a very focused direction--to record computer game information for posterity, historical research, and user-contributed ratings. We are not interested in re-inventing the wheel, nor are we interested in competing with professional gaming magazines. As such, you will not find the following on MobyGames:
- The games themselves (offering commercial games for free is illegal, so we don't do it)
- Game demos (we don't have the space, and it's best to get the demo from the game company anyway in case there are new patches, etc.)
- Patches or bug-fixes (no space and/or time to maintain this; the game companies themselves are the best places to get patches anyway)
- Up-to-the-minute gaming news (there are tons of other web sites dedicated to gaming news)
By keeping our direction focused, we can concentrate on giving you the best possible service.