Your cyberpunk games are dangerous



I actually had the Neuromancer game that the top image is drawn from. Played it on my parents’ Apple ][C.

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Why did you pick that image to illustrate?

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Definitely a manual for high-tech computer hacking: “Roll 3 dice, if you get better than 16, YOU’RE IN, 9-15 your modem drups, if less than 8, THEY TRACE THE CALL, roll a saving throw or YOU’RE BUSTED.”

And thanks to the Feds for catalyzing the foundation of the EFF, doing great work for 25 years!


I was freelancing for Steve Jackson Games at the time of the raid. Steve called me (and presumably others he worked with) that night to see if I’d gotten any . . . visitors.

NB, the Secret Service guys also helped themselves to office snacks. I forget if it was popcorn or jelly beans . . .


That cover of Neuromancer is hilarious! Instead of a scene from a seedy part of Chiba the photo is of a well-lit shopping street, and except for the Yoshinoya (cheap beef-bowl chain) I can’t picture any of these businesses in Night City. “Mikimoto” is probably a jewelry store and “Mitsukoshi” is a high-end department store. The sign right underneath the title is for a bookstore that advertises “Chronicles of Narnia” and “Childrens’ bookstore on the sixth floor”. There are no drug or weapons dealers, no cyberspace desk or organ transplant shops, and not even a bar. Not everything with Japanese writing on it is cyberpunk.


Just wanted to point out that the image associated with the article is not from a cyberpunk book. It was the cover art of Go Tell the Spartans by Jerry Pournelle. Definitely a different genre Pournelle - Pournelle’s CoDominium universe is basically a sandbox for hard military sci-fi. In fact Go Tell the Spartans used to on the professional reading list for the US army and US Marine Corps.

Wanna bet?

Granted, it is the Brazilian edition.

The artist is Keith Parkinson, according to this tumblr

Now, it may be that Baen Books originally commissioned the art for Go tell the Spartans in 1991, but somehow it did make it’s way onto the cover of GURPS Cyberpunk…


It would seem that you are technically correct, which is of course the best kind of correct. I am going to argue that the original was for the book becuse the art continues on to the back cover and shows graffiti reading Helots Rule OK which is a running theme in the book.

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Back in the day, I bought that book just because I heard about it because the SS seized it. I was kind of disappointed.

That happens a lot when I read banned books. I read “My Bengali Girlhood” because it was banned by the Muslim extremists who run Bangladesh (slightly less extreme than the ones they usually call “extremists” but banning books makes you an extremist in my book) and thought "They banned this? Really?


Outstanding, I’ve read very few articles that synthesized the weird, whacky, Illuminati like through the looking glass character of Operation Sundevil and the gaming connection. We forget these little hidden histories far too easily.

We ran a tactical EMS team in 2020 Seattle. Boosted, cybered first-responders authorized to “secure” crime/accident scenes and resuscitate/apprehend any survivors --if the price was right. Good times…


The Internet/cyberspace was not properly called The Matrix capital M in Neuromancer. It is referred to as that, as well as the grid, cyberspace, etc., but capital M Matrix was from… The Matrix.


Why does that sound like a trope?

Heh. We were twentysomething hardcore cybernerds. It was a point of pride to check as many boxes as possible


I remember our cyberpunk game; the band Traumatized by Static was being used as a cover by one of the corps to infiltrate other corps and steal their data. Good fun.


So, there’s a piece to this story that has not yet been told. It’s a bit long to post here, so I put it up on tumblr at SJG and the SS — the untold story. But the tl;dr is that SJG did actually cause Top Secret classified information to be leaked, and that might explain the real reason for the raid.

Please feel free to read that article and let me know what you think.

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I would be all over a game like that.

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Then, as now, Feds have a poor sense of irony. Remember reading some article in some magazine where some cop said something like “if a kid has a copy of Neuromancer, you just know they’re up to no good”:.


The problem is probably also not in the possible code leaks or persumable danger. The problem for SS was - and is - RPGs like Cyperpunk provided players possibility to think out the box. They let players change their perspective to reality. It is not (not only) about vague borders between reality and fiction. It’s about metamorphosis from incapable citizen to a person with meta perspective about systems, politics, government. And even if you are moving around in a RPG world build of game values, scores, fictional locations, your mind will not stop analyzing the world in a new ways after you put the game away and go outside. This was perhaps where Secret Service saw the danger for society.

You know, it’s like a Plato’s Parable of the Cave. People, who know what’s outside, are dangerous for productivity and efficiency of the slave labor inside the cave.

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