Steve Jackson (born c. 1953) is an American game designer who promoted the Church of the SubGenius.
While working at Metagaming Concepts, Jackson developed Monsters! Monsters! (ca1976) based on a design by Ken St. Andre related to his Tunnels & Trolls role-playing game, and Godsfire(1976), a 3D space conquest game designed by Lynn Willis. Jackson's first design for the company was Ogre (1977), followed by G.E.V. (1978), which were set in the same futuristic universe that Jackson created.
Jackson became interested in Dungeons & Dragons, but found the various-sized dice irritating and the combat rules confusing and unsatisfying, and did not like the lack of tactics, so he designed Melee in response. Jackson joined the SCA to gain a better understanding of combat, but he soon became more interested and started fighting in SCA live-action combat as Vargskol, the Viking-Celt. Metagaming also published his game Wizard. While designing Melee, Jackson realized this idea could be expanded into a full fantasy role-playing game to compete with D&D, and started working on The Fantasy Trip. While the game was originally scheduled for release in February 1978, the design and development required more work than Jackson had anticipated and the game was not released until March 1980. Howard Thompson, owner of Metagaming, decided to release The Fantasy Trip as four separate books instead of a boxed set, and changed his production methods so that Jackson would not be able to check the final proofs of the game. As a result of these actions, Jackson left Metagaming and founded Steve Jackson Games later that year. His game Raid on Iran was an immediate success. Jackson bought The Space Gamer from Metagaming, and sold the rights to The Fantasy Trip to Metagaming. However, Thompson sought legal action against SJG for the rights to a short wargame called One-Page Bulge, and the lawsuit was settled with an agreement that was reached on November 26, 1981 which gave Jackson full rights to One-Page Bulge, and to Ogre and G.E.V. (whose ownership was questioned during the legal proceedings). Jackson tried to purchase The Fantasy Trip from Thompson after Metagaming ceased operations in April 1983, but Thompson declined the offered price of $250,000.
Jackson designed or co-designed many of the games published by SJ Games, including minigames such as Car Wars (1981) and Illuminati (1983), Undead (1981), and a published version of an informal game played on college campuses, called Killer. Jackson wanted to get into computer gaming software in the early 1980s, but instead wound up licensing gaming rights to Origin Systems, which produced games such as Autoduel (1985) and Ogre (1986). Jackson became interested in designing and publishing a new roleplaying system in the middle of 1981, intending it to be detailed and realistic, logical and well-organized, and adaptable to any setting and any level of play; he announced GURPS in 1983, although the company's magazines delayed development of GURPS until 1984, making the combat system book Man to Man: Fantasy Combat from GURPS available for Origins 1985, and the full GURPS Basic Set appeared the next year in 1986. In 1995, Sean Punch took over for Jackson as the GURPS line editor. Jackson also designed the strategy card game Munchkin (2001).
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