Steve Jackson Games

Last updated
Steve Jackson Games
Type Private
IndustryGame publisher
Founder Steve Jackson
United States
Key people
Steve Jackson
Products Munchkin , Chez Geek , Car Wars , Ogre , GURPS
RevenueUS$6.6 million gross [1]  (2015)
Owner Steve 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 , 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

Board games

Role-playing games


Computer games

Dice games


Publication history

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

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]

Related Research Articles

<i>Bunnies & Burrows</i> Tabletop fantasy role-playing game from 1976

Bunnies & Burrows (B&B) is a role-playing game (RPG) inspired by the 1972 novel Watership Down. Published by Fantasy Games Unlimited in 1976, the game centered on intelligent rabbits. It introduced several innovations to role-playing game design, being the first game to encourage players to have non-humanoid roles, and the first to have detailed martial arts and skill systems. Fantasy Games Unlimited published a similar second edition in 1982. Frog God Games published a revised third edition in 2019 from the original authors. The game was also modified and published by Steve Jackson Games as an official GURPS supplement in 1992.

<i>GURPS</i> Tabletop role-playing game system

The Generic Universal RolePlaying System, or GURPS, is a tabletop role-playing game system designed to allow for play in any game setting. It was created by Steve Jackson Games and first published in 1986 at a time when most such systems were story- or genre-specific.

<i>Traveller</i> (role-playing game) Tabletop science fiction role-playing game

Traveller is a science fiction role-playing game first published in 1977 by Game Designers' Workshop. Marc Miller designed Traveller with help from Frank Chadwick, John Harshman, and Loren Wiseman. Editions were published for GURPS, d20, and other role-playing game systems. From its origin and in the currently published systems, the game relied upon six-sided dice for random elements. Traveller has been featured in a few novels and at least two video games.

<i>The Fantasy Trip</i> Fantasy tabletop role-playing game

The Fantasy Trip (TFT) is a tabletop role-playing game designed by Steve Jackson and originally published by Metagaming Concepts. In 2019, TFT was republished by Steve Jackson Games as The Fantasy Trip Legacy Edition.

<i>Car Wars</i> Board game

Car Wars is a vehicle combat simulation game developed by Steve Jackson Games. It was first published in 1980. Players control armed vehicles in a post-apocalyptic future.

<i>Ogre</i> (board game) Board game designed by Steve Jackson

OGRE is a science fiction board wargame designed by the American game designer Steve Jackson and published by Metagaming Concepts in 1977 as the first microgame in its MicroGame line. When Steve Jackson left Metagaming to form his own company, he took the rights to OGRE with him, and all subsequent editions have been produced by Steve Jackson Games (SJG).

<i>Illuminati</i> (game) Card game

Illuminati is a card game made by Steve Jackson Games (SJG), inspired by the 1975 book, The Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. The game has ominous secret societies competing with each other to control the world through various means, including legal, illegal, and even mystical. It was designed as a "tongue-in-cheek rather than serious" take on conspiracy theories. It contains groups named similarly to real world organizations, such as the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Symbionese Liberation Army. It can be played by two to eight players. Depending on the number of players, a game can take between one and six hours.

<i>GURPS Cyberpunk</i>

GURPS Cyberpunk is a genre toolkit for cyberpunk-themed role-playing games set in a near-future dystopia, such as that envisioned by William Gibson in his influential novel Neuromancer. It was published in 1990 after a significant delay caused by the original draft being a primary piece of evidence in Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service.

<i>Pyramid</i> (magazine) Gaming magazine

Pyramid was a gaming magazine, publishing articles primarily on role-playing games, but including board games, card games, and other sorts of games. It began life in 1993 as a print publication of Steve Jackson Games for its first 30 issues, though it has been published on the Internet since March 1998. Print issues were bimonthly; the first online version published new articles each week; the second online version is monthly. Pyramid is headquartered in Austin, Texas. It replaced Steve Jackson Games' previous magazine Roleplayer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Steve Jackson (American game designer)</span> American game designer (born 1953)

Steve Jackson is an American game designer whose creations include the role-playing game GURPS and the card game Munchkin.

<i>Munchkin</i> (card game) Card game spoofing table-top RPG play

Munchkin is a dedicated deck card game by Steve Jackson Games, written by Steve Jackson and illustrated by John Kovalic. It is a humorous take on role-playing games, based on the concept of munchkins.

Hacker is a card game for 3–6 players published by Steve Jackson Games (SJG) in 1992.

Metagaming Concepts, later known simply as Metagaming, was a company that published board games from 1974 to 1983. It was founded and owned by Howard Thompson, who designed the company's first game, Stellar Conquest. The company also invented Microgames and published Steve Jackson's first designs, including Ogre, G.E.V. and The Fantasy Trip.

J. Hunter Johnson is a freelance American game designer, author, and translator. He has translated many game rules and websites from German for Mayfair Games. He has authored or co-authored six books for Steve Jackson Games, including GURPS Monsters and GURPS Japan and designed two games for White Wolf Publishing, including gToons, which proved popular among children on Cartoon Network's Cartoon Orbit children's website and left an impact on how such websites use digital trading cards for online gaming.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blue Planet (role-playing game)</span> Tabletop science fiction role-playing game

Blue Planet is an environmentalist science fiction role-playing game first published by Biohazard Games in 1997, set on the planet Poseidon.

David L. Pulver is a Canadian freelance writer and game designer, author of more than fifty role-playing game rulebooks and supplements, including the award-winning Transhuman Space.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">GURPS Bestiary</span>

GURPS Bestiary is a source book for the GURPS role-playing game system containing information and statistics of animals. It also contains information animal player character templates, and tips for fitting animals into adventures. The first edition was published in 1988.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pocket box</span> Small box or pocket-sized container

A pocket box is a small box or pocket-sized container, so named to emphasise its portability.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Steven Marsh (game designer)</span> American role-playing game designer

Steven Marsh is a game designer who has worked for Steve Jackson Games.


  1. 1 2 Jackson, Steve. "Report to the Stakeholders: 2015". Steve Jackson Games. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  2. 1 2 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
  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". .
  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.