The Strong Receives Donation of Materials from Game Designer Paul Reiche
June 20, 2019
For Immediate Release
The Strong Receives Personal Collection
from Noted Game Designer Paul Reiche III
(Founder of Toys for Bob)
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK—The Strong recently received a collection of personal papers and archival materials documenting the career of prominent game designer Paul Reiche III, who founded the company Toys for Bob, which as a division of Activision created the multi-billion-dollar Skylanders franchise. The collection includes documents that capture Reiche’s creation of Dungeons & Dragons materials in high school, his time at game publisher Tactical Studies Rules (TSR), and his distinguished career in video game design. The materials precede Reiche’s work with Skylanders and complement the museum’s existing Skylanders collection (donated in 2018).
“While perhaps best known for his work with Skylanders, Paul Reiche was already one of the longest-tenured and most active game designers in the industry before he began working on that project,” says Jon-Paul Dyson, director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “Those seeking to understand the history of the medium—whether that’s how game designers came up with their ideas, how individual games were created, or how the industry advanced through a series of relationships that were often as much personal and playful as they were professional and profit-oriented—will find his materials an invaluable record for understanding the rise of computer gaming.”
In the 1970s, Reiche started Fantasy Art Enterprises, which sold playing aids for roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons. He later joined TSR, the maker of Dungeons & Dragons, and after a year there, began a lengthy career in video game design. He created dozens of hit games such as Archon, Murder on the Zinfendorf, and Mail Order Monsters. Reiche, along with co-founder Fred Ford, launched Toys for Bob in 1989 and produced hits Star Control, Star Control II, and 102 Dalmatians. Activision acquired Toys for Bob in 2005, and the company created movie-related games before developing the toys-to-life Skylanders franchise.
“I may be the luckiest guy in the world—making games for the past 40+ years with some of the most creative, talented, and hard-working people in both electronic and paper game development. As entertainment, our games stand on their own, but there is another world—a secret world—of crazy, messy, awful, and beautiful moment in game creation that isn’t seen by anyone outside of the development team. That’s why it’s so cool and wonderful that The Strong museum collects the papers and other artifacts from game developers who have been in the industry since its early days. I am honored to have The Strong establish a collection of my own work, and I look forward to seeing other game developers offer their own material for historical preservation.”
The collection features a variety of primary source materials, such as sketches, design notes, correspondence, project planning documents, and random jottings that offer insight into how the games industry worked and Reiche’s personal relationships within the industry. They provide a record of the linkage between older forms of play and modern video games, and they add to the museum’s existing game designer holdings, which include materials from Will Wright, creator of The Sims, and Jordan Mechner, creator of Prince of Persia
Says Dyson, “Scholars and video game enthusiasts 100 years from now will be grateful to Paul and others like him—as we are—for saving these papers and providing a first-hand glimpse into the inner-workings of the industry.”
For more information, see Dyson's blog post "Paul Reiche III Papers at The Strong."
About The Strong
The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to the history and exploration of play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play and houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play.