Factory Sealed is gone -- Sealed has been added as a modifier, and Mint Sealed
is now the top grade possible.

Please review the changes, in particular the actual wording used for Mint
Sealed, the Sealed modifier, and the examples.  Any comments, criticisms,
suggestions, etc. welcome.  I think I got everything we talked about in here
this time :-)

The world's most comprehensive historical PC gaming database project.
The Official MobyGames Software Collectables Condition Grading Scale
Version 0.2.5

The inevitable legal notice: This document and its contents is Copyright 2000,
MobyGames.com.  It was authored by Jim Leonard ([EMAIL PROTECTED]), based
on a scale created by Hugh Falk, which in turn was based on a record album
grading scale of unknown origin.  Any questions, comments, or suggestions
should be directed to the author.  You are free to copy, translate, reformat,
and retransmit this text as long as these notices are included and the content
is left unchanged.



The world of software collectables is an emerging hobby that is slowly easing
into the mainstream.  However, being so new, there is no standard scale for
grading the condition of an item, which can lead to misrepresentation of an
item's value.  For example, in dealing with other collectors, a multitude of
grading notations have already been found: One list used a single rating for
the entire item, another used a numerical rating for quality grades, yet
another wildly overused the term "MINT!", etc.  This lack of standardization
can lead to confusion when trying to assess an item's value based solely
on a textual description of the item.  Which grading scale is the right one?

MobyGames.com believes there's a better way to do this, and has created a
standard grading scale and specification for cataloging software for
collection lists.  This system is officially in place at MobyGames.com, but it
is our hope that it is embraced by the collector community and used
universally to describe item condition.  Through widespread acceptance of this
scale, we hope to eliminate misconceptions and confusion in the software
collectable community. 
This document describes The Official MobyGames Software Collectables Condition
Grading Scale and its use and application.  For brevity, the condition grading
scale will be abbreviated as "MobyGames Grading Scale" throughout the
remainder of this text.  Also included at the end of the document are some
frequently-asked questions, and an example collector's list to illustrate the
system in use.


Item Breakdown:

Before describing the actual scale, it is important to define how the scale
itself is used.  A common mistake for new collectors is to assess the overall
quality of an item and give it a singular value.  This may save the collector
time, but creates confusion for other collectors attempting to view his list.
This is because not everyone values certain aspects of an item the same.  For
example, one collector may value the condition of the box above all else,
while another may value the manual and included trinkets/props/feelies higher
than the box.  Because of differing opinions of value, it is usually
inappropriate to give items one overall grade.

The solution to this is to apply a grade to as many pieces of the item that
are relevant.  This creates more work, but is the only way to ensure accuracy
and avoid unintentionally misleading people who read your lists.  For example,
the most common pieces of a software collectable are:

- Box/Packaging
- Original Media
- Manual
- Reference Sheet
- Catalog
- Registration Card
- Additional Items (listed individually)

The more pieces that are graded, the better the representation of the item.
So while you can get away with a single grade for the entire item, a suggested
minimum would be two grades:  One for the Box/Packaging, and another for all
other materials contained in that item.

Also note that if an item is incomplete, it is appropriate to label it as
such.  The notation used for a missing piece is Item Missing (IM).


Condition Grades:

The following are the official condition grades of the MobyGames Grading
Scale.  The possible conditions an item can be in are:

- Mint Sealed (MS): No noticable defects and sealed in original factory or
  store shrinkwrap or sticker.  The best grade possible.

- Near Mint (NM): No noticable defects, but not sealed.

- Fine (F):  One or two slight defects (small scratch, slight
  worn corner on box, etc.) that prevent a Near Mint rating.

- Very Good (VG):  More than one or two slight defects (slight crease in manual, all
  corners slightly worn, etc.).  Still in acceptable condition.  

- Good (G): More severe defects (box slightly torn or crushed; noticable wear
  on media, manual, or other materials).  Acceptable only if the item is hard
  to find or highly desired by the collector.

- Fair to Poor (F-P): Unusable defects (crushed, ripped, sheared, or missing box;
  diskette media bad; etc.).  Acceptable only if the item is wanted for
  non-collectable purposes (like actually playing the game) or wants it for

Each grade can also have a modifier associated with it.  Currently the only
modifier is:

- Sealed: Sealed with original factory (or store) shrinkwrap or sticker.  Not
  to be confused with a re-wrapped previously-opened box.

For example:  An unopened copy of a title in Fine condition would be called
Fine Sealed.




Long form: Ultima Underworld, open and used item in good condition:

Title: Ultima Underworld
Year: 1993
Platform: DOS
Box/Packaging: Very Good
Original Media: Fine
Manual: Very Good
Catalog: Near Mint
Reference Sheet: Very Good
Registration Card: Item Missing
Additional Items: Near Mint
Comments: Has "Best RPG of 1993" sticker on front box.  Additional items are a
cloth bag with metal "runes".


Short form, multiple items:

Tass Times in Tonetown (PC): Box G, Media F, Manual G, Registration Card F-P 
(handwriting), "Newspaper" prop F
X-Car Experimental Racing (PC): Box MS
Ancient Land of Ys (PC): Box G, Media F, Manual G, Registration Card IM
Archon (C64): Box NM, Media NM, Manual VG, Registration Card NM


Abbreviated form, multiple items: (Legend is Box/Inside Materials)

Ancient Land of Ys: G/VG
Under a Killing Moon: VG/F
Pinball Construction Set: VG/G
Music Construction Set: VG/G
Dr. J and Larry Bird go One on One: NM/NM
Daemonsgate: MS


These are just suggested list templates; you are free to use whatever format
you choose.  The MobyGames Grading Scale is a specification, but you can
implement that specification any way you like.  Note that, for all forms
suggested above, there was only one grade listed for Mint Sealed items.
This is because all pieces of a sealed item must also be in the same
condition, since the item was never opened.


Frequently-Asked Questions:

Q: Will the number of grades change?
A: No.  Many hours of thought were put into what appreciable differing grades
of condition could be (as related to software items).  Unless an extremely
strong and convincing argument is made, they will never change.

Q: Why only six grades?
A: More (or less) grades wouldn't describe an item's condition any better
than the grades provided.  We deliberately created granular grades for the
best conditions and coarse grades (only two) for poor conditions.  This was
done to best serve the needs of collectors without overwhelming them.  Also,
the more grades you have, the more their implementation is subject to debate
-- which is precisely what the MobyGames Grading Scale is meant to eliminate.

Q: Why isn't "Rare" on the grading scale?
A: "Rare" isn't an indication of condition; it's an indication of value.  (The
harder it is to find an item, the more value it has to most collectors.)
While an item's condition is a large part of what an item's value is, the
topic of value/worth is unrelated to the technical act of grading an item's

Q: Can I add my own grades using this system?  I've been using "Pristine" and
"Good Plus" in my own lists and want to keep doing so.
A: No!  That goes against the whole idea of standardizing condition grades;
the purpose of the system is to map conditions to terms that everyone can
universally use and agree upon.  Adding your own terms deviates from the
scale, and just confuses other collectors.  If you add your own terms, you
cannot advertise that you're utilizing the MobyGames Grading Scale.


Acknowledgements and Addendum:

This grading scale is officially released to the software collectables
community.  Its use is highly encouraged, as long as it's not altered.  Strict
adherence to the scale is what makes it strong and useful; please don't
deviate from or otherwise modify it.  

Want to discuss software collectable issues with other collectors?  Join the
Software Collectables Mailing List!  To subscribe, send email to
"[EMAIL PROTECTED]" with a subject line of "subscribe swcollect".  After
joining, you can send email to the list by emailing "[EMAIL PROTECTED]".
Replying to list messages also sends your reply to everyone on the list.
Mailing list archives are kept on the web; the URL will be provided to you
after you receive your first message from the list.

"The Official MobyGames Software Collectables Condition Grading Scale" is a
mouthful, isn't it?  :-)  It's suggested that you merely tell other
collectors, "I'm using the MobyScale."

Many thanks to Hugh Falk, Tom Hlavendy, C. E. Forman, Lee Seitz, and others
who provided suggestions that helped shape this scale.

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