The CIA Made A Card Game… And We're Releasing It
from the come-and-get-it dept
Yes, the CIA made a card game. And… we’re releasing it. No, really. If you want to play the top secret card game that the CIA used to train analysts, you can now back our Kickstarter project for CIA: Collect It All.
Let me explain how we got here…
We write a lot about the CIA here on Techdirt — often covering just how secretive the organization is around responding to FOIA requests. After all, this is the same organization that invented the famous “Glomar Response” to a FOIA request: the now ubiquitous “we can neither confirm, nor deny.” And that one “invention” is used all the time. Indeed, if you have a few extra hours to spend, feel free to go through just our archives demonstrating CIA obstructionism over FOIA.
But… the organization actually did recently respond to a set of interesting FOIA requests. Back in 2017, at SXSW, the CIA revealed its gaming efforts, and even let some attendees play them. That resulted in a few FOIA requests for the details of the game, including one by MuckRock’s Mitchell Kotler and another by entrepreneur Douglas Palmer. In response to the FOIA requests, the CIA released the details of some of the games (though, somewhat redacted, and in typical FOIA response gritty photo-copy style), including a card game called “Collection Deck.” My first reaction was… “Hey, that would be fun to play…” And then I had a second thought.
There’s another super popular topic here on Techdirt: the public domain and how important it is to build on works in the public domain. Remember, under Section 105 of the US Copyright Act, works of the federal government of the United States are not subject to copyright and are in the public domain.
We’ve already been working with Randy Lubin of Diegetic Games on a few different projects (including Working Futures and others you’ll need to stay tuned for). So, we started talking about making a version of the CIA’s game to play for ourselves. And everyone we mentioned it to wanted to play as well. And the more we looked at the details, the more we realized that we could make a much nicer version (while paying homage to the original and its route through FOIAdom) that was playable, and maybe even offer some changes, fixes and alternative rules. We decided to name our version, “CIA: Collect It All.” Not only does “Collect It All” spell out CIA and pay homage to the CIA’s “Collection Deck” name, “Collect It All” was also General Keith Alexander’s surveillance motto that we roundly mocked due to its inherent conflict with the old 4th Amendment. Anyway, this seemed like a way to take back the phrase a bit.
And that led us to Kickstarter. We’re using Kickstarter in the real original sense of Kickstarter. We had an idea that we thought was pretty damn cool that we wanted for ourselves. And we want to see if others want it as well so we can produce it at scale. If people want it, awesome. We’ll make a bunch. If we’re wrong and no one really wants it… well, we’ll probably still make a copy for ourselves, but you’re on your own, working with redacted photocopies.
So… here’s a chance to:
- Get a cool, fun game that until just recently was a top secret training game by created by the CIA — which, come on, is pretty cool
- Help support Techdirt and all the reporting we do (including reporting on the CIA pushing back on FOIA requests)
- Demonstrate why building on the public domain is a good thing
- Did I mention that you get to play a fun game, with awesome design work (much better than the CIA’s), that was originally created by the CIA?
So, check it out and back us on Kickstarter. And tell your friends. Because, look, they wanted to be CIA agents when they were kids too.