Ruby for Video Game Emulation: A Primer


Video game emulation is the practice of emulating the behavior of a gaming console, such as the NES or Sega Genesis, on a different platform, like a computer. While Ruby is not the primary language for creating full-fledged game emulators due to performance constraints, it can be used for developing utilities and tools to support emulation efforts. In this guide, we'll provide an overview of how Ruby can be used in the world of video game emulation.


Before you start, make sure you have the following prerequisites:

  • Basic knowledge of the Ruby programming language
  • Familiarity with video game emulation concepts
  • A code editor (e.g., Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text)

Step 1: ROM Manipulation

Ruby can be used for manipulating ROM (Read-Only Memory) files. These files contain the game data for a specific console and are used in emulators. You can use Ruby to extract information from ROMs, modify them, or generate patches. For example, you might write Ruby scripts to extract sprite data, modify game text, or apply translation patches to ROMs.

Step 2: Save State Management

Managing save states is an essential aspect of video game emulation. Ruby can be used to develop utilities for managing and manipulating save states for different games. You can create tools to save, load, and even edit save states, allowing players to customize their gaming experiences.

Step 3: Cheating and Hacking

Ruby can be used to develop cheat systems and hacks for emulated games. Cheats can be used to modify the game's behavior, such as enabling infinite lives or unlocking hidden content. Ruby scripts can be used to create cheat codes and apply them in real-time while playing emulated games.


Ruby's flexibility and ease of use make it a suitable choice for developing utilities and tools related to video game emulation. While it may not be the language of choice for building full emulators, Ruby can be a valuable addition to the emulation community by providing tools for ROM manipulation, save state management, and cheats.

If you're interested in the world of video game emulation, using Ruby can be a fun and educational way to contribute to the emulation community and enhance your programming skills.

Enjoy exploring Ruby's role in video game emulation!