All in the Cards

All in the Cards
Steve Jackson: The Escapist Interview

Russ Pitts | 3 Oct 2006 12:01
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TE: Looking at one of your newest games, Chez Guevara - and that's obviously a take-off of Chez Geek - looking through your game catalog, one gets the impression that you're kind of a revolutionary. Is that just a side effect of your sense of humor?

SJ: Chez Guevara is not a game about the romantic side of being a revolutionary. Chez Guevara is about being dirty and sweaty and stinky and out there in the jungle, and the officers are trying to get you, and your fellow troops don't like you all that much, and you win the game by collecting enough "Slack" so that you can escape, go to the city and open up an internet café on the reward money from turning in the "Glorious Leader."

TE: So it's more about the Steve Jackson sense of humor?

SJ: The cliché that that game subverts is the cliché of "Glorious Revolution." Everything is out there to be made fun of. Clichés are to be subverted.

TE: Is that sort of a running theme?

SJ: With some things. On the other hand, with Ogre it was "clichés are to be celebrated! Look at the huge tank!" Ogre is not ironic at all. I did that almost 30 years ago, but the message with Ogre is that tanks are cool. The bigger the tank, the better it is.

TE: So you guys are working on UltraCorps. Is Steve Jackson Games moving in that direction? Toward computer games?

SJ: I don't want to move entirely in that direction. I want to move more in that direction because you can do such neat games on the computer. Over the years, as new styles of games have developed I've had a lot of fun with "hey, can I do that?" I'd like to do digital games. I don't' want to abandon what I've been doing for ... a terrifying number of years, but I would like to have more options to play with.

TE: One of the criticisms we've seen of MMOG games or games that have attempted to capture the tabletop game feel in a computer setting is that the computer just doesn't make a very good game master. What would you say to that?

SJ: I would say that's true. Saying that the computer doesn't make a good game master is neither a new comment nor an incisive one. Don't let anybody sell that to you as an insight. The insights will come from the people who find a way to address that problem.

TE: Looking forward at other properties you may turn into a computer game, is that something you're addressing?

SJ: Well. The short answer is "not with anything I can talk about." And if I could talk about it, I would be waving my arms and explaining what I'm dreaming about rather than spitting out lines of code that solve the problem. Putting a real game master in a computer is possibly an issue of true artificial intelligence. And that's a ways off.

TE: Thank you so much for taking a few minutes to talk with us.

SJ: I hope it was useful, and that you had a good time.

Russ Pitts is an Associate Editor for The Escapist. He has been writing on the web since it was invented and has played every console ever made. He also makes a mean Texas chili.

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