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Michael and Muffy Berlyn papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 119.2588
The Michael and Muffy Berlyn papers are a compilation of game design documentation, text drafts, notes, photographs, audiovisual materials, publicity clippings, and other documentation relating to the careers of Michael and Muffy Berlyn. Published video game titles represented within these materials include Bubsy, Bubsy 3D, Altered Destiny, The Art of Murder, Reconstructing Remy, A Taste for Murder, and many others. Along with original documentation by the Berlyns are reference materials, such as publicity clippings and articles about related video game projects. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1983 and 2011. Additional scope and content information can be found in the Contents List section of this finding aid.

The Michael and Muffy Berlyn papers are arranged into three series. The materials are housed in nine archival document boxes, two oversized flat boxes, and one rolled storage box.

Dates

  • 1978 - 2015
  • Majority of material found within 1983 - 2011

Creator

Language

The materials in this collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Audiovisual materials in Series II requires advance notice per library staff.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donors have not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, they have given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.

Extent

6.5 Linear Feet (9 document boxes, 2 flat boxes, 1 rolled storage box)

Abstract

The Michael and Muffy Berlyn papers contain game design documentation, notes, sketches, memos, and other materials related to video games and other creative pursuits. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1983 and 2011.

Biographical Note

Michael and Muffy Berlyn are an American husband-wife duo of game designers with more than 30 years of experience in the computer and video game industries.

Michael Berlyn began his career in games in 1979 after playing Colossal Cave Adventure. This led him and his wife Muffy, a writer and artist, to create games themselves. They established Sentient Software, releasing their first computer adventure games Oo-Topos and Cyborg in 1981. Michael joined Infocom in 1983, where he worked on a number of games including Infidel (1983), Cutthroats (1984), and the computer-board game mash-up Fooblitzky (1985). Infocom’s no-spouse policy precluded Muffy from also working there, so in 1985 the couple founded Brainwave Productions, producing Tass Times in Tonetown (1986) whose quirky sensibilities influenced many graphic adventures of the 1980s and 1990s. Muffy also co-wrote Dr. Dumont’s Wild P.A.R.T.I. (1988, 1999) with Michael.

Michael and Infocom founder Marc Blank started Berlyn, Blank & Co. (later renamed to Eidetic, Inc. and then Bend Studio) and created adventure games and games for the Newton handheld. Michael designed 1993’s Bubsy in: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind (often shortened to Bubsy) and the fourth game in the series, Bubsy 3D (1996). After a brief detour to e-publishing, Michael and Muffy Berlyn returned to the games industry in the early 2010s with Flexible Tales, interactive story games for mobile devices. Their particularly creative partnership is a thread running through the history of the games industry.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Game design documentation and creative works, 1978-2015 and n.d.

Series II: Photographs and audiovisual materials, 1982-1999 and n.d.

Series III: Publicity, 1982-2012 and n.d.

Custodial History

The Michael and Muffy Berlyn papers were donated to The Strong in April 2020 as a gift of Michael and Muffy Berlyn. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 119.2588 and were received from the Berlyns along with dozens of video games, books, and other ephemera.

Processed by

Julia Novakovic, November 2020-January 2021
Title
Finding Aid to the Michael and Muffy Berlyn Papers, 1978-2015
Status
completed
Author
Julia Novakovic
Date
12 January 2021
Description rules
dacs

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

Contact:
The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.263.2700
585.423.1886 (Fax)