Play Generated Map and Document Archive (PlaGMaDA) papers Edit


Finding Aid Author
Julia Novakovic
Finding Aid Date
27 August 2014
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of Description


  • 1974 – 2014 (Creation)
  • 1980 – 2000 (Creation)


  • 15.1 Linear Feet (Whole)

Agent Links



  • Abstract

    The Play Generated Map and Document Archive (PlaGMaDA) papers are a compilation of hand-drawn maps, sketches, notes, reference materials, and other documentation generated by numerous players of assorted role-playing games. Dated materials are primarily from the 1980s through 2000.

  • 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 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.

  • Custodial History

    The Play Generated Map and Document Archive (PlaGMaDA) papers were donated to The Strong in April 2014 as a gift from the Play Generated Map and Document Archive (PlaGMaDA). The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 114.894 and were received from Timothy Hutchings, the Founding Director of the Play Generated Map and Document Archive, in seven large boxes.

  • Preferred citation for publication

    Play Generated Map and Document Archive (PlaGMaDA) papers, Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong

  • Historical Note

    From the Play Generated Map and Document Archive (PlaGMaDA) website:

    “PlaGMaDA's mission is to preserve, present, and interpret play generated cultural artifacts, namely manuscripts and drawings created to communicate a shared imaginative space. The Archive will solicit, collect, describe, and publicly display these documents so as to demonstrate their relevance, presenting them as both a historical record of a revolutionary period of experimental play and as aesthetic objects in their own right. By fostering discussion and educating the public, it is hoped that the folkways which generate these documents can be encouraged and preserved for future generations.”

    Since 2008, PlaGMaDA has collected ephemera created as a result of play. According to founder Tim Hutchings, “any mark made for or during game play is fair game.” Hutchings considers these living maps and documents to share characteristics with folk and outsider art. Typically, players disposed of these papers after the completion of specific role-playing game adventures (or after giving up gaming), resulting in a scarcity of this type of supporting documentation. Game mapping, once considered a valuable skill in the role-playing game world, fizzled due to the “auto-mapping” features of computer games and later fantasy games. Hutchings’ project seeks to preserve this type of ephemera not only for their aesthetic value, but also the historical value demonstrated by this documentation within the development of play.

  • Collection Scope and Content Note

    The Play Generated Map and Document Archive (PlaGMaDA) papers contain materials from 1974 through 2014, with the bulk of the documents dated between the 1980s and 2000 (though, many materials have no denoted date). This collection comprises hand-drawn maps, notes, sketches, role-playing game character sheets, rules, game modules (both published and manuscript), published reference materials, convention information, and other documentation created by numerous players of assorted role-playing games.

    Tim Hutchings, Founding Director of PlaGMaDA, compiled these donated materials and constructed the organizational system used to manage the files. PlaGMaDA scanned the majority of its documents for display on its website, Hutchings labeled his folders or boxes with a four-digit number; the last two digits of the donation year, followed by the sequential number of the order in which the donation was received, yielded the donation identifier. (For example, the second donation received and scanned in the year 2013 would be given an identifier of “1302.”) When a letter follows the four-digit number, PlaGMaDA further divided the donation during the scanning process. Hutchings also indicated the name (or gamer handle) of the donor, when possible. (Two of the larger donations were not subdivided by PlaGMaDA but were organized at The Strong for easier research use.) During archival processing at The Strong, folders were labeled with descriptions of document types within each donation, as well as the game(s) represented, when identifiable.

    A significant portion of this collection relates to the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (“D&D”) and its more complex edition, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (“AD&D”). Other games represented throughout these materials include Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars Roleplaying Game, Living Greyhawk, Mutants & Masterminds, Champions, Heroic, T.W.E.R.P.S., GURPS, and more. Additional scope and content information is listed for each series under the “Contents List” section of this finding aid.

    The Play Generated Map and Document Archive (PlaGMaDA) papers are arranged into three series. The materials are housed in 28 archival document boxes and two oversized flat folders.

  • Related Materials

    The Strong National Museum of Play holds hundred of artifacts related to role-playing games, including modules, rule books, miniatures, and video games. The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play maintains a list of Dungeons & Dragons-related library and archival materials, such as manuscripts, newsletters, magazines, trade catalogs, strategy guides, fiction books, and reference works.

  • System of Arrangement

    Series I: Original documentation, 1975-2014

    Series II: Published materials, 1974-2013

    Series III: Game modules, 1974-2000

External Documents


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    Play Generated Map and Document Archive (PlaGMaDA) papers