Hacker – An Old School Hacking Card Game

While researching [d0x3d!] and Control-Alt-Hack games last week we came across a series of old school card games with origins dating way back to a 1990 Secret Service raid on a gaming company.

First is the original Hacker game… In 1990 the Secret Service raided Steve Jackson Games in a so called “hacker hunt.” They confiscated much of the computer equipment, including the Illuminati BBS. In 1992 the gaming company made a … game out of it, satirizing the Secret Service, hackers, phone companies, etc. Players in the game play the role of a hacker that compete against other hackers to control the most network systems.

Hacker uses a variation of the Illuminati system; players lay out cards (representing systems) to create the Net, which is never the same twice. But instead of separate “power structures” for each player, there is only one Net, and players place tokens to indicate what systems they have invaded and how completely they control them.

For 3 to 6 players; takes from 90 minutes to 2 1/2 hours. The supplement, Hacker II, lets you add two more players.

Components include rulebook, 110 cards, 172 marker chips, 6 console units, lots of “system upgrades,” and other markers.

As mentioned above next came Hacker II – The Dark Side in 1993 that allowed more players and added new rules.

Hacker II is a supplement to Hacker. It’s not playable alone. It adds new and evil rules – Viruses, the Internet Worm, outdials, multiple accounts, Black Ice, and Military Hardware (hot new gadgets you’re NOT supposed to have).

Plus consoles and tokens for 2 more players!

Components include rulebook, 55 cards, 157 marker chips, 2 console units, and lots of other markers to support the various new rules. Some of the cards are blank so you can write your own hacks!

Finally in 2001 Steve Jackson Games released Hacker – Deluxe Edition that combined everything from Hacker I and Hacker II into one boxed game.

Can you break into the world’s toughest computer systems? In Hacker, players sail through the Net, competing to invade the most systems. The more systems you crack, the more you learn, and the easier your next target is. You can find back doors and secret phone lines, and even crash the systems your rivals are using. But be careful. There’s a Secret Service Raid waiting for you!

Designed by Steve Jackson, Hacker requires guile and diplomacy. To win, you must trade favors with your fellow hackers – and get more than you give away. But jealous rivals will try to bust you. Three busts and you’re out of the game!

Unfortunately, all these games are out of print however the Steve Jackson Games site does point to a list of dealers that may have some lying around.

Oh and in case you were wondering… With the help of the EFF, Steve Jackson Games eventually won a lawsuit against the Secret Service.


Today’s post pic is from SJGames.com. See ya!

2 comments for “Hacker – An Old School Hacking Card Game

  1. March 12, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    BLOGGED: Hacker – An Old School Hacking Card Game http://t.co/4ogDHwQxYy

  2. March 12, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Interesting comment from this post over on Hacker News worth posting here by ja27…



    I have both Hacker and Hacker II and they weren’t that exciting to play. It’s pretty disappointing because we played a lot of Illuminati in college. It’s the Illuminati game play with a lot of additional pieces and rules scattered on top, all wrapped with a mostly sensationalized Hollywood-style hacker theme.

    The work that got Steve Jackson Games raided became GURPS Cyberpunk. I think I got my copy signed by Bruce Sterling when I saw him speak on his tour for “The Hacker Crackdown”.




    Mmm? More interesting things to investigate…

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