The Star Wars Customizable Card Game was first released in December, 1995 by a company called Decipher, Inc. Over the next six years, the game’s following grew, and with a player base of over 40,000 strong, it became the second most popular trading card game in the world, after Magic: The Gathering. Decipher released 11 full expansion sets for the game, as well as a number of smaller sets. However, in December, 2001, Decipher announced that it had been unable to extend its license with Lucasfilm, Ltd. to produce the game.
Unable to continue to produce, market, or support the game, Decipher instead created a volunteer committee of some of the game’s most active and accomplished players. They christened this group the Star Wars Customizable Card Game: Players Committee. The Players Committee, or PC as it is better known, was given control of the oversight of the game, including the championship tournament season, and was also afforded the ability to create new cards for the game, although with a number of restrictions. Chief among them, was that the cards could only be distributed electronically. The PC could not create physical cards. Additionally, the PC could not utilize new images from the Star Wars films. Finally, everything the PC created must be distributed for free. No PC cards could be sold.
What resulted became known as the “Virtual Cards.” These Virtual Cards (or V-cards) can be downloaded for free here and have allowed the game to continue under the PC’s watch for over twice as long as Decipher actually produced the game.
The Players Committee maintained the competitive scene by organizing local, state, regional, and world tournaments. With the cooperation of Decipher and Lucasfilm Ltd., the Player’s Committee also began releasing new cards to the playing community in 2002. These new cards came in the form of new game text boxes and eventually new card names and entire frames that could be printed out and placed over existing cards, giving that card a new name and new capabilities. Since 2001, the Player’s Committee has continued to guide the Star Wars: CCG to great success, releasing multiple expansion sets a year and maintaining a vibrant competitive scene with a loyal playing community.
Although originally printed as a for-profit venture by a business, the Star Wars CCG community, under the leadership of the Players Committee, has now turned the game into a friendly, open and welcoming group designed at fostering relationships and growing the game and Star Wars lore. Without the goal of selling the newer cards in mind, the Players Committee is able to develop the game with the players and playing community in mind.
Due to this evolving sense of community as a priority, Players Committee has even been incorporated as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, with the goal of continuing the history, passion, and friendly nature of the Star Wars Customizable Card game. (You can donate to the cause here). Players from around the world frequently gather together to play one another and share their stories and experiences, while interacting with new people and making new friends over their common bond of Star Wars and Star Wars cards. In fact, in Minnesota, there is even a middle school program designed by Mark Walseth, an 8th grade social studies teacher, who uses the Star Wars CCG as a great way to teach his students game theory, math, critical (and creative) thinking, sportsmanship, fair play, and a sense of community – all lessons that extend beyond a simple card game. And this is all achieved by two people sitting across from one another playing a game about characters and scenes we are all familiar with and can relate to.