Historia Discordia has a guest post by Brenton Clutterbuck, "Chasing Eris: The Case of Steve Jackson Games, or how Discordianism helped the U.S. Secret Service inspire the birth of the Electronic Frontier Foundation."
Steve Jackson Games, based in Austin, Texas, had an interesting game, "Illuminati." Science fiction writer Bruce Sterling explains, "'Illuminati' got its name from a card-game that Steve Jackson himself, the company's founder and sole owner, had invented. This multi-player card-game was one of Mr Jackson's best-known, most successful, most technically innovative products. 'Illuminati' was a game of paranoiac conspiracy in which various antisocial cults warred covertly to dominate the world. 'Illuminati' was hilarious, and great fun to play, involving flying saucers, the CIA, the KGB, the phone companies, the Ku Klux Klan, the South American Nazis, the cocaine cartels, the Boy Scouts, and dozens of other splinter groups from the twisted depths of Mr. Jackson's professionally fervid imagination. For the uninitiated, any public discussion of the 'Illuminati' card-game sounded, by turns, utterly menacing or completely insane."
Oddly enough, Sterling doesn't mention the apparent inspiration for the game. His book is available free on the Internet. For that matter, Clutterbuck doesn't mention Sterling's well-known book.
When Lewis Shiner interviewed Robert Anton Wilson in Austin, Shiner brought up the game:
Do you know about Steve Jackson's Illuminati game?
RAW: Everybody I meet thinks it's based on my Illuminatus! novels and I'm getting royalties on it. He claim it's not based on the novels, so I'm not getting royalties on it. Different lawyers give me different opinions. Decide for yourself.
In Clutterbuck's account, Steve Jackson at first considered adapting Illuminatus! " Instead of taking on the book, due to the complexity and payment for creative rights, his company, Steve Jackson Games, began to make a game built instead on the concept of the Illuminati generally, throwing in a couple of explicit Discordian references. To play with their interest in conspiracies and Discordianism, Steve Jackson Games had on their BBS the tongue-in-cheek announcement:
Greetings, Mortal! You have entered the secret computer system of the Illuminati, the on-line home of the world’s oldest and largest secret conspiracy. 5124474449300/1200/2400BAUD fronted by Steve Jackson Games, Incorporated. Fnord."
So I guess that settles it. Steve Jackson decided to go in a completely different direction!
My own opinion, while expressing no opinion on the legal issues, is that there would have been no "Illuminati" game without the Illuminatus! trilogy, and that Wilson and Shea indirectly deserve credit for a series of events that created the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the leading civil liberties group for the Internet.