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.

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

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.

CIA: Collect It All on Kickstarter

So... here's a chance to:

  1. 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
  2. Help support Techdirt and all the reporting we do (including reporting on the CIA pushing back on FOIA requests)
  3. Demonstrate why building on the public domain is a good thing
  4. 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.

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Filed Under: card game, cia, collect it all, collection deck, foia, public domain


Reader Comments

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2018 @ 9:26am

    Really? Physical CARDS that I can't steal like a computer game?

    How quaintly last century. I suppose you haven't noticed that "life" is now all on computers, believe that people still meet in person and sit round a table. Hee, hee! What a card YOU are!

    And certainly minimal effort on your part to try and gain some money. -- How about writing lots of interesting content here -- for free?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 9:38am

    Will you be releasing expansion sets for each new presidency, war and major leak?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 9:40am

    Re:

    Why are you under the impression that there will be a "new presidency" warranting another release?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    kallethen, 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:00am

    Re: Really? Physical CARDS that I can't steal like a computer game?

    There's actually a pretty loyal fandom of board games. And I'm not talking just old games, but lots and lots and lots of new board games as well. And even some of those computer and video games even have crossed over into the board game realm. Amazing, isn't it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:06am

    Re: Re: Really? Physical CARDS that I can't steal like a computer game?

    Not to mention that 2016 and 2017 were Dungeons & Dragons' most profitable years since it was originally released.

    A lot of parts of our lives are on computers, that doesn't mean that people still don't interact offline and in the real world.

    As kallethen stated, there's a loyal following of board games, and it's growing. The board game industry is booming. There is no reason offline and online can't mix, interact, and live together simultaneously. They aren't mutually exclusive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Jinxed (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:12am

    Will there be a redacted version, making the challenge more difficult?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:14am

    Re:

    Stretch goal idea?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re:

    <redacted>

    ~Official CIA Position

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Baron von Robber, 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'll vote for President Spanky Bonespurs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    I.T. Guy, 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:28am

    Re: Really? Physical CARDS that I can't steal like a computer game?

    I play bored games at 3 times a week with the family & friends wiLLie. You'd know that if you made it past her 3rd birthday. Hee, hee!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Annonymouse, 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re:

    An authentic replica waterboard kit

    Battery booster with cables

    An ikea rack

    An autographed Copy of the latest hackware to come to light and how to fix it.

    GWB's telephone directory

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    VP Scabs the Clown

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    I.T. Guy, 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re:

    Is there tinfoil under that helmet? :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    crade (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:40am

    Any way I can get the physical version in Canada?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:43am

    Re: Really? Physical CARDS that I can't steal like a computer game?

    First Point: Cards

    It's true. Every time I go to Vegas, I observe the oddity of people playing "card games" on the screens of computers, with virtual dealers. You're so right. Computers CAN simulate a card game.

    Of course, those are the nickel games. Walk a few steps over, and -- surprise -- you'll see the people actually gambling money in increments above $10 are all actually playing with real cards. So both virtual and actual cards games can co-exist in the market.

    But given the house takes a steady %, and the physical card tables have higher minimums, not only do people still choose to play with real cards, they pay substantially more to do so, which is what economists call a "revealed preference".

    So, you are so very wrong.

    Second point: Making Money

    You joke that Techdirt should, instead, make their money by "writing more free content". I guess you missed the part of the Techdirt business model, which has been oft repeated, and demonstrated here. It's "Connect with Fans (CwF) + Reason to Buy (RtB) = The Business Model"

    or CwF + RtB. You can see it here

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090719/2246525598.shtml

    It strikes me that this card game is an incredibly on-point example of that model.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Really? Physical CARDS that I can't steal like a computer game?

    Is the typo on porpoise?

    Bored games?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Leigh Beadon (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    We're keeping track of interest from outside the US and we hope to add international shipping if enough people want it - so consider your vote counted :) I'm in Canada too so believe me I very much hope we can do it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Jinxed (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re:

    I was hoping the stretch gold would include an encrypted version, offering additional cards as "decryption devices", where points allocated from the "investigation" would determine the chance of the "BFI" to "successfully" decrypt the cards.

    The 3 device cards would be iFruit, Robotoid, and ObsoleteDevice.

    Oh, and it should include a free shredder, if we want to play an agent who wishes to cover our tracks of illegal activity when stealing Bitcoin.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    ryuugami, 23 Apr 2018 @ 11:30am

    Re: Really? Physical CARDS that I can't steal like a computer game?

    Physical CARDS that I can't steal like a computer game?

    You are confused. It's the exact opposite.

    You can't "steal" a computer game (unless you find a boxed copy, of course), but you can steal a physical product such as these cards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 12:13pm

    It'll go full circle...

    ... if the CIA game ends up on one of the tabletop emulation engines like Tabletop Simulator.

    Though yeah, real cards tend to be preferred. Online tabletop emulation is generally used for playing with folks across distance.

    Though it makes me tempted to invite a group and play at least one game gathered around a table everyone holding their tablets and gathered at a simulated table. We'd probably only play one short game before breaking out real cards and boards, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2018 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Sounds like an excellent idea; makes it harder to Collect It All when you have to get all the parts in order to have enough of a card to have reasonable doubt as to its contents.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Matt, 23 Apr 2018 @ 1:20pm

    +1 for international shipping

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 2:08pm

    Very important gamer questions

    Does CIA: Collect It All support two players? Does it support 3-5 players? Does it support 6+ players? Solitaire?

    Is it very easy (Ages 6+), kinda easy (ages 11+) or Grognard hard (ages 41+)

    How long does a game typically take? Twenty minutes (e.g. Fluxx), Forty minutes (e.g. Munchkin), All weekend (Catan with all the expansions, oh fuck it let's call it a draw and get pizza.)

    Has anyone played it? Is it fun?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. icon
    Ninja (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Your own Ed Snowden voodoo doll so you can nail it as much as you want!

    Oh wait, wrong game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. icon
    Ninja (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re:

    Ah damn, I'll have to go with the pdf D=

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 4:27pm

    An Online card game like MTG/Hearthstone/etc. and put it up on Steam, and have some expansions go along with it, I'd be on board.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2018 @ 6:35pm

    Will the finished product also be released as Public Domain?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2018 @ 6:49pm

    Re:

    believe that people still meet in person and sit round a table

    Yep, people don't gather any more. Not for meetings... or mealtimes... it's so easy to disprove you, it's ridiculous how any organism could evolve to the capability of using a modern smart device and still be this fucked in the head...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Apr 2018 @ 8:25pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    One of Dick Cheney's artificial hearts

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2018 @ 1:50am

    awww so cute

    always nice to see basic criminals and murderers get rehabilitated into pop cultural heroes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Jeremy, 24 Apr 2018 @ 9:10am

    Bonus Points

    For being the first person to buy on Kickstarter?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2018 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re:

    Using that as a stretch goal sounds like a cool idea. Something along the line of a small set of specially redacted cards: 3 technique, 3 reality, and 3 threat (total of 9). These can function as wildcards to some degree, since they can't be fully read anyways, heh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 24 Apr 2018 @ 11:40pm

    Re: awww so cute

    always nice to see basic criminals and murderers get rehabilitated into pop cultural heroes.

    Can you explain how that's actually happening with this, because I don't see it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. icon
    The Wanderer (profile), 25 Apr 2018 @ 5:04am

    Re: Re: awww so cute

    My best guess at that one is that the CIA are who was being referred to as "basic criminals and murderers".

    Doesn't make a lot of sense even with that, but it's closer than anything else that actually fits even vaguely with the article...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. icon
    crade (profile), 25 Apr 2018 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Re: awww so cute

    Isn't it the FBI we are supposed to be trying to undermine?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 25 Apr 2018 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: awww so cute

    The CIA is a sanctioned institution that often operates outside the law and not merely murders, but massacres.

    Still taking their card game and publishing it for the rest of us to enjoy hardly condones their heinous programs done in the name of the United States.

    And it hardly rehabilitates them into pop culture heroes. For that you just need the Jason Bourne movies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2018 @ 3:47am

    Don't be obtuse and add international shipping. Just charge extra for shipping. Boardgame kickstarter projects do it all the time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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