Paranoia XP – The Only Real Name for the New Version

I had mentioned in a previous post that I still call the new version of Paranoia, Paranoia XP even though the XP has been removed and I figured I might as well look up a bit of information on the change and fill people in about it.

A Game by Any Other Name

The story is actually a pretty short one but first I wanted to give a bit of background about the game. Mongoose Publishing now has the rights to Paranoia and quite frankly I think they did an amazing job with the new version. If I had been writing more frequently on this blog when I read the book (or writing at all, I can’t remember exactly when I picked it up) I would have certainly written a positive review of it.

There have been four versions of Paranoia over the years. The First Edition, the Second Edition, the Fifth Edition, and now XP. There was apparently some information released in 1997 by West End Games that hinted at the Third Edition being more than a joke but that version never saw light and of course the Fifth Edition never should have. Many, myself included, consider the first and second editions to be the old school material and then XP to be the new material completely ignoring the existence of the horrible (and painful to think about) Fifth Edition.

It’s Called Paranoia for a Reason

Paranoia XP came out in 2004 and it only took until 2005 for Microsoft to take notice. Apparently, Mongoose has released very little information about it, the company was asked by Microsoft’s lawyers to remove the “XP” from their name. They obliged so as not to risk being forced to remove it from all current products (they agreed to remove it from their web site and future releases). They also hinted that they knew who had “tipped off” Microsoft but little information came out about that.

Some people felt that the move to remove XP was a tactical one on the part of Mongoose. For example, I am now writing a post about it three years after it happened. Some even hinted that it might not have been a request from MS at all or that Mongoose had personally sent their product to the company as a taunt. I don’t really buy this, if they had wanted to make a bigger deal out of it they could have but instead let it slide by as unnoticed as possible.

The Golden Rule: He Who Has the Gold, Makes the Rules

It seems obvious that if it came to a legal battle Mongoose could have won. Fair use and Parody laws appear to be completely on their side. Of course they would have gone broke to do this and I doubt anyone would want that. Still, the fact that MS can bully people like that makes me sick to my stomach.

Others have brought up the amusing point that the XP in Microsoft XP means Experience and we in the gaming world have been using that expression far longer than Mr. Gates and his cronies. So if we had the gold…

Is that a Windmill I See? Charge!

Yes, I am tilting at a windmill, I know. In reality the change hardly matters but in my mind it is a slight to a game I like and a hobby I love. Also for practical reasons it is annoying trying to figure out which version a book is for at a glance. Finding information about this incident is rather hard but if anyone has any more specifics I would love to see them. Until then, Stay Alert! Trust No One! Keep Your Laser Handy!


    funny, i remember from one of my art history classes a guilded page (basically a very fancy illustrated page in a religious text from the 12-15th century) with the big letters XP which stood for jesus christ’s name. its quite silly to think that microsoft would get their panties in a bunch over the use of two letters, especially since now all i will think about is windows jesus christ edition.

    Scott Says:

    Isn’t that one of the thirty-six flavors of Vista? Oh, I thought they were targeting more demographics now…

    Heh, I had forgotten this story and the move to remove the “XP”; did Microsoft think that an RPG using XP in its name was actually infringing their trademark?

    Never mind the concept that “Windows” itself should be beyond the reach of trademark protection since it’s the name of a generic, everyday household item. Sigh.