The Raid on Steve Jackson Games

By Deane Barker on March 4, 2006

SJ Games vs. The Secret Service: Wikipedia has a good article on the legendary raid by the Secret Service on Steve Jackson Games back in 1990. The reasons for the raid are related to the nascent hacking community in the late 80s, and this was one of the precipitating events that resulted in the formation on the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

[…] word quickly spread throughout the role-playing, science fiction and hacker communities that the government had raided Steve Jackson Games because it feared that GURPS Cyberpunk contained instructions for cracking real computers, rather than game rules for pretending to crack fictional computers. The raid was often referred to as “The Cyberpunk Bust”, and while the investigators remained silent, the rapidly spreading rumor suggested that the government was ignorant and naive in regards to computer technology.

Steve Jackson has printed his own account of the raid with lots of links to original court documents and decisions about the case.

I remember reading about this raid in a forward to the Cyberpunk rulebook, I think. At the time, I had no appreciation of the significance of the event.

Looking over the GURPs stuff on the Steve Jackson site, I can’t help but think that GURPs was the original framework — a core system of rules meant to be customized for a particular application. Sounds like a lot of the stuff we program with today.