Miniature Monsters Attack America


Credit: Reason Magazine

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 is a copy editor at the Northwest Arkansas Times.