In July the Department of Homeland Security acted swiftly to protect America’s cities from Martians, giant dinosaurs, and Lovecraftian horrors from another dimension. The DHS intercepted the first shipment of a strategy guide for the role-playing game Monsterpocalypse—in which players attempt to conquer the planet using “collectible miniatures portraying the most fearsome giant monsters on Earth!”—when it arrived in the United States.
“There was a lot of head shaking,” says William Shick, a marketer at the guide’s publisher, Privateer Press. “We thought it was ridiculous.” Shick had a hard time convincing his loyal customers that the episode wasn’t an elaborate, publicity-seeking hoax. The company remains unsure why the government flagged the guide and held up its release for a week, though Shick speculates that “certain words like base caused red flags.”
This isn’t the first time gamers have had trouble with the law. In a 1990 raid on the offices of Steve Jackson Games, Secret Service agents seized copies of a guide to GURPS Cyberpunk, claiming the game’s rules were a “handbook of computer crime.”
Jeff Winkler (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a copy editor at the Northwest Arkansas Times.