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Steve Jackson Games

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Steve Jackson Games
Company typePrivate
IndustryGame publisher
FounderSteve Jackson
United States
Key people
Steve Jackson
ProductsMunchkin, Chez Geek, Car Wars, Ogre, GURPS
RevenueUS$6.6 million gross[1] (2015)
OwnerSteve Jackson
Number of employees
43 full time (2015)[1]

Steve Jackson Games (SJGames) is a game company, founded in 1980 by Steve Jackson, that creates and publishes role-playing, board, and card games, and (until 2019) the gaming magazine Pyramid.



Founded in 1980, six years after the creation of Dungeons & Dragons, SJ Games created several role-playing and strategy games with science fiction themes.[2] SJ Games' early titles were microgames initially sold in 4×7 inch ziploc bags, and later in the similarly sized Pocket Box.[3] Games such as Ogre, Car Wars, Illuminati, and G.E.V (an Ogre spin-off) were popular during SJ Games' early years. Game designers such as Loren Wiseman and Jonathan Leistiko have worked for Steve Jackson Games.[4]

Today SJ Games publishes a variety of games, such as card games, board games, strategy games, and in different genres, such as fantasy, sci-fi, and gothic horror. They also published the book Principia Discordia, the sacred text of the Discordian religion.

Raid by the Secret Service


On March 1, 1990, the Secret Service raided the offices of Steve Jackson Games,[5] seizing three computers, two laser printers, dozens of floppy disks, and the master copy of GURPS Cyberpunk; a genre toolkit for cyberpunk games, written by Loyd Blankenship, an employee at the time.[6] The Secret Service believed that Blankenship had illegally accessed Bell South systems, and uploaded a document possibly affecting 9-1-1 systems onto Steve Jackson Games's public bulletin board system and/or another board known as Phoenix which he also administered;[7] and, furthermore, that GURPS Cyberpunk would help others commit computer crimes.[8] During their investigation, the Secret Service also read (and deleted) private emails on one of the computers.[9] Though the materials were later returned in June, Steve Jackson Games filed suit in federal court, winning at trial.

The raid led to the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which was founded in July 1990.[2][10]

Kickstarter project


In April–May 2012, Steve Jackson Games ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for a new "Designer's Edition" of Ogre.[11][12] The final game was planned to weigh 14 pounds or more, partly because the high level of extra funding achieved in the Kickstarter enabled significant game additions.[13]

Games published


Steve Jackson Games' main product line, in terms of sales, is the Munchkin card game, followed by the role-playing system GURPS.[14]

Card games

  • Battle Cattle The Card Game, a card game, compatible with the Car Wars card game, based on the Battle Cattle miniatures system.
  • Burn In Hell, a semi-satirical game centered on collecting 'circles' of notable historical and contemporary people's (sinners') souls that share common characteristics.
  • Car Wars: The Card Game, a card game version of the Car Wars miniatures system.
  • Chez Geek, a card-game parody of Geek culture with many spinoffs and expansions.
  • Cowpoker, a card game partly based on poker mechanics with a central theme of old west cattle ranchers.
  • Dino Hunt, a card game where players travel through time to capture dinosaurs. Features over a hundred dinosaurs with color drawings and accurate scientific data on each one.
  • Hacker, a modern-day card game based on the mechanics of Illuminati.
    • Hacker II: The Dark Side
  • Illuminati, a game of competing conspiracies, based largely on the Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson. Originally published in microgame format followed by three numbered expansions. Later published in a full-sized box with expansions 1 and 2 as Deluxe Illuminati. Expansion 3 would later be reprinted as Illuminati: Brainwash.
    • Illuminati: Y2K - all-card expansion for Deluxe Illuminati
    • Illuminati: Bavarian Fire Drill - all-card expansion for Deluxe Illuminati
    • Illuminati: New World Order (INWO), the collectible card game based on concepts in Illuminati.
    • Illuminati Crime Lords, a mafia-based variation on Illuminati which combines gameplay elements of the original Illuminati and INWO.
  • King's Blood, a Japanese card game originally published by Kadokawa Shoten.
  • Lord of the Fries (card game), a game of zombies attempting to assemble orders in a fast-food restaurant. Originally designed by James Ernest and published by Cheapass Games.
  • Munchkin, a card-game parody of hack-and-slash roleplaying with many spinoffs (all able to be mixed with the original). and expansions:
  • Ninja Burger, a fast-paced ninja delivery card game based on the Ninja Burger website.
  • Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls (SPANC), a light-hearted competition between starship crews of cat girls in search of toys and loot.
  • Spooks, a Halloween-themed card game where players try to get rid of cards from their hands.

Board games

  • The Awful Green Things from Outer Space, designed by Tom Wham and originally published by TSR.
  • Car Wars, futuristic battles between automobiles.
  • Dork Tower, a fantasy game that takes place in the world the Dork Tower characters play their games in.
  • Frag, "a first-person shooter without a computer".
  • Globbo, a black comedy game about a murderous alien babysitter.
  • GreedQuest, a light, randomized romp through a simple dungeon to gain loot.
  • Knightmare Chess, a chess variant played with cards. Translation of the French Tempête sur l'Echiquier published by Ludodelire.
  • Kung Fu 2100, a simple game of hand-to-hand combat where players use martial arts to smash their way into the CloneMaster's fortress.
  • Munchkin Quest, a boardgame variation of the Munchkin card games
  • Nanuk, a boardgame of bidding and bluffing, centered on Inuit hunters.
  • Necromancer, a fantasy game for two players, in which each player becomes a powerful wizard controlling the forces of the Undead.
  • Ogre, the classic simulation of future war involving a cybernetic armored juggernaut firing nuclear weapons. Designed by Jackson, and originally published by Metagaming Concepts.
    • Battlesuit, a spin-off of Ogre and G.E.V. featuring infantry using powered armor inspired by Starship Troopers.
    • G.E.V., a spin-off of Ogre focusing on futuristic but "conventional" infantry, artillery, and armor units.
    • Shockwave, an Ogre/G.E.V. expansion set with new units and a new map.
    • Ogre Reinforcements Pack, an Ogre/G.E.V. expansion set with new rules and replacement pieces and maps.
    • Battlefields, an Ogre/G.E.V. expansion set with new rules, pieces, and maps.
  • One Page Bulge, a simulation of the German Ardennes Offensive in 1944, with the rules printed on a single page.
  • Proteus, a chess variant using dice to represent normal chess pieces.
  • Revolution, a blind-bidding area-majority game.
  • Snits, two classic Tom Wham games, Snit's Revenge and Snit Smashing, both originally published by TSR.
  • Star Traders, a game where players race through space to deliver cargoes.
  • The Stars Are Right, a boardgame where players attempt to change a 5×5 tileboard through the use of cards, and gaining victory points based on certain constellations of symbols.
  • Strange Synergy, a game where teams of warriors battle with a different set of powers each game.
  • Tile Chess, a multiplayer chess variant played without a chess board.
  • X-Bugs, a combat game where futuristic bugs are represented by colorful tiddly winks.

Role-playing games




Computer games

  • Autoduel, an action arcade game with role-playing elements. Published by Origin Systems, Inc.
  • Ogre A computer version of the Ogre board game. Published by Origin Systems, Inc.
  • Ultracorps An online space strategy game originally developed by VR-1.

Dice games

  • Cthulhu Dice, a custom dice game where the faces are Cthulhu symbols, including the Eye of Horus, the Yellow Sign, the Elder Sign, Cthulhu, and Tentacle. You roll the dice to compete with others to be the last sane person left.
  • Zombie Dice, a custom dice game where the faces are Brains, Shotgun Blasts and Feet. The goal is to push your luck stacking up zombie kills before your buddies.
  • Proteus, a custom dice game where the faces of the dice represent chess pieces. The goal is to change your pawns into higher pieces and take over all your buddies' pieces.



Publication history


Gaming magazines produced by Steve Jackson Games have included:[15]

  • The Space Gamer (1980–1985) – Steve Jackson took over the magazine from Metagaming Concepts with issue #27, and transferred the magazine to Steve Jackson Games in 1982; the final issue from Steve Jackson Games was #76 in 1985, and the rights were sold to Diverse Talents Inc.
  • Fire & Movement (1982–1985) - a wargaming magazine purchased from Baron Publishing - sold to Diverse Talents in 1985
  • Autoduel Quarterly (1983–1992) - home for Car Wars material moved from The Space Gamer
  • Fantasy Gamer (1983–1984) - short-lived magazine split from Space Gamer
  • Roleplayer (1986–1993) - replaced The Space Gamer as the company's periodical for their fan base until SJGames started the new generalist magazine Pyramid
  • Pyramid (1993–1998) - published for 30 issues as a print magazine
  • Pyramid, volume 2 (1998–2008) – published weekly as a subscription-based online magazine
  • Journal of the Travellers Aid Society (starting 2000) - SJGames resurrected Game Designers' Workshop's earlier periodical as an online magazine
  • d20 Weekly (2002–2003) – an online magazine devoted to the d20 market
  • Pyramid, volume 3 (starting 2008) - a PDF-only version of the magazine

Mentions in third-party media


In Uplink, a 2001 computer hacking simulation game by British software company Introversion Software, there is a company named Steve Jackson Games. While this company may occasionally offer hacking contracts to the player, its main feature is a Public Access Server which, if accessed, displays the following information:

Steve Jackson Games

Public Access Server


This computer system has been seized
by the United States Secret Service
in the interests of National Security.

Your IP has been logged.

This jokingly refers to the 1990 raid by the US Secret Service. As noted in the Ultimate Uplink Guide, this was "put into the game because of the Secret Service Raid on the company, for supposedly making a 'Hacking Guide'. This guide was actually a work of total fiction for a game the company was making, and contained technology that didn't even exist".[16]


  1. ^ a b Jackson, Steve. "Report to the Stakeholders: 2015". Steve Jackson Games. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Gross, Joe. "FnordCon celebrates 39 years of Steve Jackson Games". Austin 360. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  3. ^ "The Maverick's Classic Microgame Museum". Retrieved 2007-08-30.
  4. ^ "Loren WISEMAN 1951 - 2017 - Obituary". Austin American-Statesman. 4 April 2017. Retrieved 2020-08-27 – via Legacy.com.
  5. ^ Markoff, John (June 3, 1990). "Drive to Counter Computer Crime Aims at Invaders". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  6. ^ Lewis, Peter H. (September 9, 1990). "The Executive Computer; Can Invaders Be Stopped but Civil Liberties Upheld?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  7. ^ Peterson, John (2015-05-08). "Your cyberpunk games are dangerous". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  8. ^ McGuire, Morgan; Jenkins, Odeste Chadwicke (2009). Creating games: mechanics, content, and technology. Wellesley, Mass.: A K Peters. p. 506. ISBN 9781568813059. OCLC 212627362.
  9. ^ Giallonardo, Nicole (Fall 1995). "Steve Jackson Games v. United States Secret Service: The Government's Unauthorized Seizure of Private E-mail Warrants More Than the Fifth Circuit's Slap on the Wrist". John Marshall J. Inf. Technol. Priv. Law. 14 (1): 179–208.
  10. ^ Sterling, Bruce (1993). The hacker crackdown : law and disorder on the electronic frontier. New York: Bantam. ISBN 055356370X. OCLC 30469826.
  11. ^ James, Geoffrey (May 8, 2012). "Crowdfunding Lessons from a Kickstarter Success". Inc.com.
  12. ^ Kuchera, Ben (May 9, 2012). "Steve Jackson's Ogre wins at Kickstarter: more games will be printed, and each game will be better". Penny Arcade Report.
  13. ^ "Ogre Designer's Edition". Kickstarter.
  14. ^ Steve Jackson Games 2007 Report to the Stakeholders from SJGames' official website
  15. ^ Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. pp. 102–113. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  16. ^ The Ultimate Uplink Guide. Retrieved 2014-10-07.