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Jordan Mechner papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 114.1911
The Jordan Mechner papers are a collection of game design documents, notes, correspondence, development agreements, publicity, magazine articles, photographs, film, digital files, audio-visual media, reference, source code disks, and other materials relating to the career of Jordan Mechner and the creation of his most popular software titles. Some business records for Mechner’s Smoking Car Productions firm are also part of this collection. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1984 and 1999. Additional scope and content information can be found within the “Contents List” section of this finding aid.

The Jordan Mechner papers have been arranged into seven series, two of which have been further divided into subseries. The physical materials are housed in 36 archival document boxes. There is also a series of digital-only files, which can be accessed via the internal network of The Strong.

Boxes 12, 13, and 14 have been restricted by the donor and cannot be accessed until the year 2044. Eleven additional folders have been designated as “restricted” and have been separated from the rest of the “open” materials in the collection. Researchers are free to request use of Boxes 1-11 and 15-36 until the donor restrictions have expired.

Dates

  • 1913 - 2016
  • Majority of material found within 1984 - 1999

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Some materials of financial or legal nature have been restricted by the donor. These documents will not be open for research use until the year 2044. They are denoted as such in this finding aid and are separated from unrestricted files.

At this time, audiovisual and digital files in this collection are limited to on-site researchers only. It is possible that certain formats may be inaccessible or restricted.

Please see The Strong's Digital Games Files Access Policy here .

Conditions Governing Use

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

Extent

32 Linear Feet

922 Gigabytes

Abstract

The Jordan Mechner papers are a compilation of game design documentation, notes, reference material, drawings, film, video, photographs, source code, business records, legal documents, correspondence, and marketing materials created and retained by Jordan Mechner during his career in the video game industry. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1984 and 1999.

Biographical Note

Jordan Mechner (1964–) is an American video game designer, author, and filmmaker, best known for creating the Prince of Persia video game series.

Jordan Mechner grew up in New York with a strong interest in both filmmaking and computers. He learned how to code on an Apple II computer and subsequently wrote several short programs and informative articles for the magazine Creative Computing. Mechner enrolled at Yale University, supplementing his major studies in Psychology with courses in film and computer science.

In 1982, Mechner submitted a game called Deathbounce to Doug Carlston at Brøderbund Software; though the game was never released, Mechner and Brøderbund established a good rapport. Two years later, Brøderbund published Mechner’s game Karateka, a side-scrolling fighting game set in feudal Japan, which eventually sold more than half a million copies worldwide. Mechner utilized his film background to develop realistic animation for the game Prince of Persia, released by Brøderbund in 1989. The popular game spawned several successful sequels, a reboot, and ultimately a major motion picture.

Mechner founded independent developer Smoking Car Productions in 1993. Their primary project, The Last Express, featured a complex real-time mystery aboard an art nouveau rendering of an Orient Express train. The Last Express, released by Brøderbund in 1997, received positive reviews but suffered commercially. As a result, Smoking Car Productions dissolved.

Though no longer programming games, Mechner is involved with the Prince of Persia franchise reboot, as well as the adaptation of his other game titles for mobile platforms. He has written several books, graphic novels, and screenplays.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Early game designs, 1978–1991

Series II: Brøderbund games, 1982–2002

Subseries A: Karateka game production
Subseries B: Prince of Persia game production
Subseries C: Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame game production
Subseries D: Financial documentation

Series III: Smoking Car Productions and The Last Express, 1913–2010

Subseries A: Personnel information
Subseries B: Financial documentation
Subseries C: Agreements and contracts
Subseries D: The Last Express game production
Subseries E: Publicity and marketing materials
Subseries F: Audiovisual and data materials

Series IV: Other games in Prince of Persia franchise, 1993–2007

Series V: Publicity and other projects, 1997–2006

Series VI: Source code and project disks, c. 1984–1997

Series VII: Digital files, 2014-2016

Custodial History

The Jordan Mechner papers were donated to The Strong in April 2014 as a gift from Jordan Mechner, accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 114.1911. The papers and audiovisual materials were received from Jordan Mechner in seven large boxes, in addition to donated electronic games and library items. Selected materials were digitized by Preserving the Past, LLC, of Rochester, New York, in May-June 2014. Additional videos were acquired by The Strong in October 2016 from Jordan Mechner, accessioned under Object ID 116.6054, and also digitized by Preserving the Past, LLC.

Related Materials

For related archival materials on Brøderbund Software, see also the Brøderbund Software, Inc. collection in the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong. The library also holds graphic novels in the Prince of Persia series by Jordan Mechner.

The International Center for the History of Electronic Games has various versions of Mechner’s titles Karateka, Prince of Persia series, and The Last Express within its collections. In the same accession, Mechner also donated action figures, posters, and plaques relating to these games.

Processed by

Julia Novakovic, September 2014, with additional materials added in October 2016

Creator

Title
Finding Aid to the Jordan Mechner Papers
Status
completed
Author
Julia Novakovic
Date
20 October 2016
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 21 October 2014: Added restrictions based on Jordan Mechner signed deed of gift.
  • 20 October 2016: Added additional videos accessioned under Object ID 116.6054.

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)