Sunday, April 3, 2011

National Museum of Play Online Collection of RPGs

Reader Jason Kielbasa pointed me toward a really fascinating website: the National Museum of Play Online Collections, which includes a sub-section devoted to RPGs, consisting of nearly 1100 roleplaying products, from the dawn of the hobby to the present day. While the collection seems to consist largely of mass market products from publishers like TSR, there are nevertheless quite a few more obscure ones as well. I think it's great that there's a collection like this somewhere and it gives me hope that, one day, we might see more collections like this, perhaps including the papers of the hobby's luminaries, much in the same way that pulp writers like H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard have had their materials of this sort preserved for future study and research.

8 comments:

  1. It's startling, almost frightening, how many of the item shown I own or have owned at one time or another.

    33 years in the hobby and counting.

    Thanks for pointing this out. Beautiful to see it all laid out like that.

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  2. Not sure how they have organized it, and they have duplicates of several items. Will have to contact them to see if they are lokking for scans of other items, of they only have pictures of those items that are physically in their collection.

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  3. The best way to get this all held and documented for future generations is find a library that will be willing to hold all these books in an archive. The National Museum of Play has a good start on this. So what may be best is to ask them if they are willing to hold more books within their collection and donate them there. Libraries take pride in their special collections and a good archivist will do what's necessary to expand and improve their existing collection. It's what helps separate libraries from one another.

    @A Paladin I am sure this is dealing with what they have in their collection and what they've acquired. I have been there a few times, the museum is 5 minutes from my house, and they have a large amount of toys and exhibits. Never knew they had this many books until I was told by a friend. I also want to ask and see the collection. If I do I will add an update.

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  4. "...collections like this, perhaps including the papers of the hobby's luminaries..."--James Maliszewski

    The E. Gary Gyzax Enormous Gathering of Graphation?


    "The best way to get this all held and documented for future generations is find a library that will be willing to hold all these books in an archive."--Jason

    I wonder if it might also help to contact game companies and suggest they donate whatever they might have too?

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  5. I would think that the Library of Congress might be a good place to look for this to occur. There was a really good documentary on them on the History channel maybe two weeks ago or so. They may already have a lot of these.

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  6. Heh...was there just a week ago (helps being local to the museum.) Sadly the only D&D item they have on visible display is a 1E DM's Screen...

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  7. "I would think that the Library of Congress might be a good place to look for this to occur...They may already have a lot of these."--Wymarc

    Good point. Isn't the Library of Congress supposed to have at least one of every book that's published in the USA, or something like that?

    Another national option might be the Smithsonian. I wonder how much RPG stuff they have? Certainly, Gygax's and Arneson's personal RPG stuff should be considered national treasures.

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  8. Glad you liked the RPG section of our online collections page at The Strong's National Museum of Play. Just to answer a couple of questions, yes these images are all taken from items in our collection, and, yes, we are interested in adding to it! We recognize the importance of pen-and-paper RPGs, not only as important cultural products in their own rights but also as having had extremely important influences on the formation of computer games and computer game mechanics. Glad Jason and Randolph have been able to visit, and I hope more of you can make it! (By the way, in our eGameRevolution exhibit on the history of video games there is more D&D stuff)

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