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Before There Was Porn: Old School Dirty Video Games

Updated: Jun 18


McPlaymate

"Hello, I'm Maxie. Your date from McPlaymate. Shall we begin?" In the 1980s, Mac users keen on dirty video games could respond to Maxie in one of three ways: 'Yes', 'No' and 'Huh?' If Maxie wasn't your type, there was 'Virtual Valerie', "a sexual date on a disk" - “An intuitive point-and-click interface makes Virtual Valerie VIRTUALLY YOURS to play with. She’s your cybernetic fantasy and YOU control the action!”


McPlaymate, 1980.

The aim of the business was to rid the woman of her clothes, then urge her to take hold of a “Mighty Mo Throbber”, “Deep Plunger” or “Anal Explorer", dress up in stockings or “a full fetish ensemble”, and command her to masturbate in one of six different ways . Each game came with a “Panic” button, the pressing of which hid your dream date behind a spreadsheet. Maxie was devised by artist Mike Saenz, who had asked himself: “What kind of animation can I do with such a limited computer, limited memory, limited size on the floppy disc? What kind of game can I build that’s repetitive yet still holds your interest?" The answer was a game geared towards masturbation. "It was the first time someone had programmed something where you could click on the woman’s blouse and then it pops off," he adds. "It reminded me on the cheap novelties in the novelty stores -  peep-show keychains.”


He's right. Seeing something secret is a key driver in early interactive smut, as it was for early peep shows. Rescue the naked woman in 1980s Burning Desire, and win a three-second clip of a digital 69. Engage the right cheat code as the intro runs for 1991's Sega Genesis RPG and the woman crossing the screen loses her shirt. Play 1995's Wild Woody for the Sega CD in “debug mode” and the pen, by which you control the action, transforms into a... Can you guess?


Many of the thousands of early sex video games were awful. Producers knew it, hiding their block-shaped characters behind suggestive packaging on which flesh and blood women in short shorts and boob tubes promised much. It worked. They sold in the tens of thousands.







Take Softporn Adventure, originally written for the Apple II in Applesoft BASIC in 1981 by programmer Chuck Benton. Gamers needed to find a number of items, present them to the women and thereby win their affections. The game's box cover and advertisement featured three nude babes in a hot tub and a fully clothed male waiter. It sold 50,000 copies, an unusually large number especially at a time when Apple had only sold a couple of hundred thousand Apple II microcomputers.


'Softporn Adventure' The World’s First Erotic Game { Image via www.retro-video-gaming.com}

Atari 2600 Custer's Revenge

The nadir of 1980s pixel-sex was the Atari game Custenge (tagline: "When you score, you score"), the plot of which was simple. Back from the dead, General Custer, cavalry commander in the American Indian Wars who'd died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, was on a mission to have sex with a native American woman who'd been tied to a cactus. The sex continued for as along as he dodged arrows. In a Mother Jones article of April 1983, New York-based activist group Women Against Pornography denounced Custer's Last Stand as "making rape a game". Eventually the game stopped selling, but gamers could still get titles like Beat 'Em and Eat 'Em'. In this game, players controlled two naked women, moving left and right in an effort to catch semen in their mouths, which is being sprayed from a masturbating man on a rooftop. The game was updated with version 2, Philly Flasher, in which two naked men catch the drippings from a lactating witch.


If that plot was too complicated, or you were tired of women as vessels to serve men, how about a game of Stroker for the Commodore 64, which involved 8-bit penises and the ability to masturbate them? Hit the left and right keys well and watch the bellend grow. Biggest knob wins. But take care because over stimulation will lead to a premature climax before the timer has ticked down to zero.


Stroker for the Commodore 64



Women and gay men might have enjoyed Stroker, but games were sold to meet the needs of straight, male gamers. Any of them who wanted to progress from voyeurism to get hold of a real-life woman got a little closer with 1973's Gotcha, so long as their dream girl was made of metal and moulded plastic. Place your hand on “the boobs” to control the action and work two naked characters through a maze. Meet in the middle and - yep - GOTCHA! After complaints, the comedy breasts were replaced with comedy knobs, aka standard joysticks.



Gotcha ( Atari,1973 )

The pink rubber bulges were meant to represent breasts that you squeezed in order to control the action.

Sticking with the push towards reality, how about a date with Samantha Fox, the pneumatic topless model from London who reinvented herself as a singer, and became mates with Lemmy and Freddie Mercury? In 1986, Commodore 64 users could play Samantha Fox Strip Poker, one of the first games to feature a naked version of a real person. Beat Fox in games of five-card or seven-card stud, and with each victory, she takes off an item of clothing. The money shot was a pixelated topless Fox. If you didn't own a computer and wanted to see a clearer version of Fox's naked breasts, you could buy a copy of The Sun tabloid newspaper for a few pence in most good shops.



Samantha Fox Strip Poker, 1986

Samantha Fox Strip Poker, 1986

Nowadays the market is huge. "Video games are one of the most powerful mediums for active fantasy fulfilment as well as learning about one's own desires without any of the shame, rejection, fear, and sometimes simple unavailability of real-life sexual encounters," according to Zsuzsa James, a co-vice chair of the Romance and Sexuality in Games group at The International Game Developers Association (IGDA). "Compared to porn, games provide the possibility for player agency that can feel very empowering, not to mention the sheer amount of potential variety for lovers and erotic situations that wouldn't be practical with real actors."



1983's X-Man for the Atari 2600