A game rip is a stripped down version of a PC game with reduced file size. The reduced size is achieved by some method such as by re encoding/removing movies, removing music,extra languages etc. The smaller size facilitated ease of transmission and storage, both of which were valuable resources back at the time. Back in the late 1990s these rips were common as this was the time scene groups CLASS/BACKLASH and MYTH was active. Rips became a rarity when CLASS shut down operations after their 1234th release.
Image: CLASS logo drawn using ASCII art. Good old days!
Are rips a thing of the past?
Now in 2008 transmission bandwidth and storage space are no more serious constraints for the average Internet user. Maybe because of this, game rips have become a rarity. However, there still are a lot of people out there with low speed Internet connections and who still seek a ripped game for a quick download without having to waste days downloading the full version.
So are game rips a thing of the past? Not really. There are still non scene individuals who rip modern PC games and release them on P2P mediums such as Bit torrent. If you know the dudes, you can get ripped versions of even newest titles such as Turok (Full - 12GB, Rip - 5.5GB) and Assassin's Creed (Full - 7GB, Rip - 3GB).
Modern game rippers
Over the past year, i have come across at least two (reliable) releasers of ripped games. These are Dopeman and Skullptura. Out of these two, Dopeman stopped releasing games since December 2007. Skullptura is more active nowadays.
Dopeman rips are uploaded to The Pirate Bay (I haven't found these rips on a private tracker yet) by a user account '420Dopeman". Skullptura rips are uploaded by account "gizmolio". You can search and download the entire release collections using the following links.
The best thing about these rips is that they dont rip movies or music (except sometimes re-encode the movies) off the games. What is usually removed are extra language streams. Check them out. One even ripped the crappy Iron Man game to 220MB :D
Also, if you know more such game rip releasers, please post here and share the knowledge.